Chat Recap: The Emerging Leader – Navigating a Career in Arts Management

Click Here for the Transcript 
Click Here for the #ArtsMgtChat Infographic — (Thanks to @LaurenMAlbrecht for creating it!)

On Wednesday April 27, 2012, the first #artsmgtchat was launched on Twitter. The theme was focused on emerging leaders with strategies/tips to elevate their arts management careers. What I loved about this discussion was the diversity of backgrounds, experiences and ideas that each individual brought to the table. So, in addition to the transcript I will highlight several interesting thoughts and responses to the questions asked.   Please feel free to add to the conversation by leaving a reply at the bottom of the post.

Q1: How did you get into the arts administration field?
I believe Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA (@emergingarts) summarized it beautifully: we are “accidental arts administrators.” Many of us found our way through the field either through an arts background, work experience or graduate school.

@andmegansaid: Also, didn’t realize #artsmgmt was a THING and a “legit” career. Found that out once I got into it! 

@jmknc: Studied journalism, had a work-study job organizing festivals & a concert series; fell in love w/working in the arts. 

@trichetriche: Initially I wanted to be an artist but working at an ed non-profit & an internship @Intersection_sf made me an #artsadmin. 

@CStarek: I had to find my way as well, undergrad didn’t offer music business/arts mgt…my interest was fueled by passion! 

Q2: What do you find challenging & rewarding about the work you do?

@justinlocke: nothing like those screaming standing ovations.

@emergingarts: Rewarding: supporting something that makes tangible change in the lives of communities and individuals. Challenges: attitudes towards art, funding, burnout.

The issue of burn-out was certainly a dominant topic within the chat. What Maura Rafferty (@mlaffs) said was right on target: “The problem stems from crappy management – job criteria often not sufficiently comprehensive.” Lauren Albrecht (@LaurenMAlbrecht) also brought up a good point about “addressing the generational difference between leadership and young professionals” to mitigate burn-out.

Q3: How can young arts administration professionals become leaders in their career/field?
Kudos to @gpmcleer for giving great advice: “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. So get involved.”

@gpmcleer: Get involved…in everything, not just arts, but Chamber, YP groups, Comm. events, City Council mtgs. 

@AllstarAltman: JOIN A BOARD! SERVE AS A LEADER! I joined my first board @ 25 yrs old. Young Profs bring fresh ideas and energy to boards.

@TRGarts: Get more involved at the org you work at. If they are looking for volunteers for an internal project/committee, sign up. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Even if you are the least experienced at the table, you can make a contribution.

Q4: What conferences/events/groups do you recommend to an arts manager to boost their network? 

 @AllstarAltman:  Champion cons in your metro area. if there aren’t any, organize one. bring the horses to water & they lap it up. 

 @andmegansaid: Their local Emerging Arts Leaders network (for DC it’s @emergingartsdc) & @Americans4Arts’ conferences. (#NAMPC, woot)

One great piece of advice was to venture out of the familiar arts circles. @justinlocke said: “May sound odd, but– join an upscale health/social club. Meet people in non-arts world and learn their POV. Get out of silo.”

Q5: In addition to professional development, is it beneficial to have a Master’s degree? Why? 
There were mixed responses to this question. While most people find a Masters degree beneficial, it is not always necessary.

 @trichetriche: I’m really interested in grad school, but what about return on investment? Debt for low compensation in the arts?

 @gpmcleer: on a monetary scale…the $$ you spend in grad school, you could (theoretically) be earning in the field..+ experience .

Q6: According to the 2012 Nat’l Arts Index, arts employment remained strong. What is the outlook for your organization this year? 
While individuals agree that the job outlook (in nonprofit arts) is positive, there is no harm in looking at opportunities outside the sector. Arts managers bring both creative and analytical thinking to the table!

 @CStarek: emerging arts leaders should be encouraged to look outside arts, tech companies have business savvy, need creativity!

 @rbiega: arts jobs are avail. but competitive. you can be creative in many industries – and many now realize the imptance of artists.

Thank you all for an engaging round of #artsmgtchat!  Please feel free to post comments below and send your ideas, topics and guest blog posts to: or You can also send a DM to me at AllyYusuf_.


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