While the popular view often features the heroic figure of a conductor or director, in fact, responsibility for much of the success of any arts institution rests on the work of administrators who handle marketing, sales, logistics, finances, human resources, and all the other necessary support functions.Each of these functions has its equivalent in the private sector but still must be adapted to the arts milieu.For example, human resources must often deal with high profile performers who appear with the company for a short time under quite specific constraints.
Many smaller arts organizations are nonprofit both by design and circumstance and thus have attracted attention from those interested in this area.
The issues of governance, leadership, volunteerism, and, more recently, marketing have all been investigated from this perspective, though little of this work is directed toward arts organizations, per se.
But is arts management really that different from management in other types of organization; are the challenges found in the arts industry and the context in which they operate specific enough to require a separate approach to understanding managerial experience?
From the limited literature available, the answers to this question appear to be yes, no, and yes.
Attracting and retaining audiences has always been among the most important concerns for the arts.
The answer to the question is no to the extent that management functions in the arts mimic those in other industrial sectors.
A common complaint is that preparing and administering grant proposals uses managers’ time and energy that they might better spend on program delivery.
Similarly, placing an emphasis on moneymaking exhibitions rules out more speculative programs featuring unknown artists or experimental presentations.
The need to present high-quality work has increased interaction among arts organizations around the world.
Whether it is an exhibition of a prominent artist drawing on the collections of numerous museums or a tour by a dance company spanning several countries, greater coordination in marketing and logistics demands higher levels of management skill and program integration than purely domestic endeavors.