One of the most common questions I’m asked by arts admin students is which books they should read to learn about the latest trends in arts management. While that’s a fine endeavor, I usually respond saying there’s far more to learn by talking to as many retired or soon to be retired insiders as possible.
The history of this field is poorly documented and much of the knowledge from past generations is lost to time.
When it comes to preparing for the future, the past is one of the best teachers you can find. Granted, some (a lot?) of the lessons are more cautionary tales than not, but that doesn’t degrade their value.
One of the best byproducts of the online cultural journalism movement is more and more of the field’s history is being documented. Now that we’re entering the latest crisis cycle, this material can help keep us grounded and better prepared.
To that end, there’s a wonderful article from 2013 written by the always sharp Jon Silpayamanant. It takes a deep dive into the impact the Great Depression had on the live classical music industry.
Given when the article was written, it offers a comparative look at the economic downturn that began in 2008.
Fast forward to today’s climate and it offers an entirely new perspective.