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Schools Guide / July 4, 2019

Exploring Degrees in Arts Management and Administration

From the individual to the collective, and from the local to the global
Hiba Abdallah‘s <em>Everything I Wanted to Tell You</em> (2018) in the Nuit Blanche exhibition “Styll,” curated by York University MBA in Arts Management alum Alyssa Fearon. Photo: Nuit Blanche. Hiba Abdallah‘s Everything I Wanted to Tell You (2018) in the Nuit Blanche exhibition “Styll,” curated by York University MBA in Arts Management alum Alyssa Fearon. Photo: Nuit Blanche.

Many people in the arts already have management skills: artists need to know how to organize their accounts and contracts, while non-profit managers, directors and CEOs have to scale up staff working on dozens, or hundreds, of projects. These programs develop skills that serve a wide range of needs.

Business-School Collaborations

MBA degrees aren’t just for management consultants and investment analysts anymore.

York University Schulich School of Business offers a unique joint MBA/MFA degree, as well as an MBA in Arts, Media and Entertainment Management. Both programs take students through issues in employment contracts, HR best practices, legal guidelines, entrepreneurship challenges and legislative policies as they relate to both individual art practices and larger cultural organizations.

“You can’t really work in the arts, for-profit or non-profit, if you don’t understand the policy environment,”says York professor Joyce Zemans.

HEC Montreal offers a Master of Management in International Arts Management, a 12-month intensive that brings students to Dallas, Beijing, Bogotá, Mumbai and Milan for coursework and case studies.

“It’s a mix of the knowledge of an art school with the knowledge of a business school,” says professor François Colbert.

Southern Methodist University in the US and SDA Bocconi in Italy are partners in the HEC program, which emphasizes team exercises and group projects, as well as an opportunity to expand international networks.

Carleton University Sprott School of Business offers an MBA in Arts Management set right in Ottawa, where many national arts institutions, policymakers and funders are headquartered.

Core coursework includes Ethical Issues in Managing Arts and Culture Organizations, with electives available in Art History and Canadian Studies. The school also offers a Minor in Arts Management for undergraduate students.

University Specializations

Learning by doing and a flexible schedule are hallmarks of the MacEwan University Diploma in Arts and Cultural Management.

“There’s a practical focus, with an eight-week field placement,” says department chair Denise Roy, pointing out that some of those placements are right on-site at galleries and theatres within MacEwan’s new Bing Thom–designed Centre for Arts and Culture. But practicums can vary: “Our entire program can be in-class or online, part-time or full-time,“ notes Roy.

If you’re looking for the longest-running undergraduate arts management program in Canada, head to University of Toronto Scarborough, where it’s been active since 1984. Students can pair a Specialist in Arts Management designation with a Major or Minor in Art History, Music, Studio or Theatre—making it a solid option for those wanting to study art and arts management in the same bachelor’s degree program.

Multiple paths are also emphasized in Queen’s University programs: students can receive a Graduate Diploma in Arts Management after one term of study, or work toward an MA in Arts Leadership by completing an additional two terms. Arts philanthropy and marketing are among the key topics, with faculty drawn from drama, music, industry and business relations.

At Bishop’s University a BA in Arts Administration offers the chance to do a double major in either Arts or Business. The focus is on training individuals in setting up and sustaining arts-related non-profit organizations.

The University of Windsor’s Certificate in Arts Management can be completed on its own or alongside undergraduate degree studies. Drama, music and visual art courses are all elective options, with financial accounting and marketing being core subjects. Given Windsor’s geographic location, internships with US arts centres and organizations in the Detroit region are also a viable option.

Collegial Approaches

For those who already have a degree, the post-graduate certificate programs available at select colleges can also be a good choice.

Centennial College has a program in Arts Management that includes courses on community engagement, arts education and innovative technologies in the arts, among other topics. Its annual Arts Ahead symposium, organized and planned by students, offers the opportunity to drive conversations in the sector and collaborate with its influencers. (The most recent Arts Ahead symposium focused on accessibility and inclusion.)

At Humber College, lessons on revenue development, strategic planning and events coordination are all part of a well-regarded Arts Administration and Cultural Management program. Outside of the classroom, students engage in speed networking events with cultural leaders in the Toronto area, alongside other professional activities that include two faculty-supported work placements.

This article is adapted from Canadian Art School Guide: Art Workers, a special print supplement in the Winter 2019 issue of Canadian Art. To download a PDF of the complete print-version supplement, click here.