Reader Response: Klaus Heymann Interview

Frequent reader and theatre manager guru Joe Patti wrote in with some reflections on the Klaus Heymann Interview.  In particular, what struck him was the segment of the interview where Klaus suggests that arts administration programs should provide much more practical experience for their students.  But instead of just writing to me about it, he wrote an entire article about it at his theatre management blog.  Joe starts off his blog entry with the following:

“Something has been grating on me for awhile now and I decided I would address it today. For a number of months now Drew McManus has been critical of how well arts administration programs are preparing people for careers in that field. It started back in November with his original posting, followed by a rebuttal by Andrew Taylor, to which Drew replied. He has made additional comments on this theme since then As a graduate with a degree in arts management, this sort of thing raises my hackles a bit.”

The rest of the article is really good; I suggest you go give it a read.  Joe included a good deal of research to back up his opinions.  I do have to say that from among all of the topics I’ve written about, my concept of what a good arts manager should be generates some of the greatest amount of email responses.

For the record, I would like to state that I don’t believe Arts Administration degrees in concept are a bad thing.  But I do feel that the model “administrative leader” should be centered more on the idea of an artist-manager as opposed to an incubated arts manager hatched from a diploma mill.  If you go read those links above you’ll get a good idea of what I’m talking about.

I’ll write some more on this topic a little later in the week with some additional examples.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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