"What is Arts Management and why is it important? How is it different from what we do on a day to day basis?"
This was the question in my mind as I was enrolling for a two week fellowship programme, ATSA (Art Think South Asia) in Manesar. I have formally studied Marketing and Communications Management and worked as a brand strategist for almost 6 years. I was curious about how this fellowship was going to address Arts Management and therefore how it would be of relevance to the work I currently do.
Most of us, practitioners, are so busy in our creative pursuits that we often neglect the concept of managing our own work. I am not referring to managing ticket sales or making sure audiences come along to watch the work. That is hygiene and needs to be done to ensure the encounter with the audience.
What we need to make a part of our process is the concept of a strategic plan that will align the work we do to the value that we seek to create. This got me thinking of the very basic question - Do we really think about the value that we are creating or seeking to create before we begin our creative process ? Do we already know what we want to achieve in a communal space and what the audience will potentially take away ? The medium of arts is a power tool that can shape, change and influence. Only when we take time to truly understand the value that we are seeking to create, can value even be created. Else, one is just banking on chance to deliver.
Strategic planning for the arts is first a mindset. Given my formal training and experience in management, I have never used any of it consciously to make plans for my theatre organisation. When I asked myself why, I dint quite have an answer. Maybe it's because we have this blanket understanding that management is the left brain and arts is right brained. Maybe its because art and management just dont go together or it's because we have no time for this or it's possibly a Chalta Hai (It's OK) attitude when it comes to our creative work.
The two weeks at ATSA has brought me to a conscious realisation of why it is important to manage our creative pursuits and has helped me understand what good will come from just having a plan, that's been thought about before it has been executed. From my learning's at ATSA, here are a few things that will really help arts organisations align their work - It might just sound so simple and obvious, but when you spend time and apply this to your arts organisations, trust me, it will make a difference.
I've taken the time to process all this and make plans for my theatre company, Visual Respiration. It has certainly cleared the air for me and has given me a solid structure to align my artistic vision to almost everything I do. I am happy to help/support anyone who needs a sounding board as they're making plans for their arts organisations.
Thanks ATSA for giving us the physical and mental space to think about arts management. Check out the fellowship programme here and apply if you think it's of relevance.