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Civic Impact

Mastering the art of arts management -- CMU program holds symposium at 25

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate the 25th year of Carnegie Mellon University's Master of Arts Management program, says director and alum Kathryn Heidemann.
"It's still a fairly new field," Heidemann notes. "In the past, there have been MFAs mostly focused on the creation of art and MBAs focused mainly on the management of business." CMU's program is "unique and innovative," she says, not least of which because it is housed in a management school and partners with a school of the arts. Not only does it offer students the chance to learn how to run an arts organization, "it prepares our students to excel in a variety of fields.
"Our program is focused on the sustainability of the arts organization and that the future of their organizations are in good hands," especially as they get older and their original CEOs retire. "This by no means replaces years of service in the field … we all have to pay our dues," she adds. "But this certainly provides you with a fast track education about how those two worlds work together."
As part of the year-long celebration, the MAM program will hold a symposium that looks at current ways in which arts programs innovate. All the presenters are alumni as well, including many who work for local arts groups, including Jeb Feldman (Unsmoke Artspace), Elliott Mower (Pittsburgh Public Theater) and Thomas Hughes (Attack Theatre), as well as CMU's own Andre Bouchard, Jocelyn Malik and Melinda Hungerman Johnson. The keynote speaker is Doug McLennan, founder and editor of ArtsJournal, the go-to arts management publication.
Most arts organizations are nonprofit organizations, and specialized ones at that, so MAM uses cases studies from symphonies, ballets, art galleries and museums -- a perspective students might not get in non-arts management programs. Students operate Future Tenant art gallery downtown, founded by the program 10 years ago, and are eligible for exchange programs to Italy and Germany. They are also involved in MAM's Technology in the Arts research initiative, which examines the places where tech and the arts intersect -- especially how tech is used in arts marketing and funding.
It's a changed arts world out there, concludes Heidemanns, with audiences engaging in arts 24/7, not just in galleries, and MAM students will be prepared for it.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Kathryn Heidemann, Master of Arts Management program, CMU
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