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  • Writer's pictureShreya Nagarajan Singh

Misconceptions About Arts Management

Updated: Feb 7

While we start 2024 with courage, laughter and gratefulness in our heart, I feel it is extremely important to address a few important aspects of Arts Management. As we work hard to build bridges and upskill in the professional arts context, we find the need to first clarify some common misconceptions about Arts Managements.

These misconceptions can create misunderstandings about the nature and role of arts management. Here are some of the important ones -

  1. Limited to Business Aspects Only: One common misconception is that arts management is solely focused on the business and financial aspects of the arts. While business principles are integral, arts management also encompasses a deep appreciation for the arts and a commitment to fostering creativity and cultural development.

  2. Not a Creative Field: Some people mistakenly believe that arts management lacks creativity. In reality, arts managers often collaborate with artists to develop innovative projects, curate exhibitions, and devise creative strategies for promoting and sustaining artistic endeavours.

  3. Only for Large Institutions: Another misconception is that arts management is relevant only for large cultural institutions and organisations, or only for senior or “popular” artists. In truth, arts managers play a vital role in supporting individual artists, small galleries, community-based projects, and various cultural initiatives. The size of an entity or institution we believe should never prevent access to working with an arts manager/administrator.

  4. Incompatible with Artistic Vision: Some may assume that arts managers compromise the artistic vision of the creators. In reality, a skilled arts manager works in collaboration with artists, respecting and enhancing their vision and goals while providing the necessary support for the realisation of their projects.

  5. Primarily Administrative: Arts management is sometimes seen as purely administrative, involving paperwork and logistics. While administrative tasks are part of the role(and definitely a large chunk of the job), arts managers are also involved in strategic planning, creative decision-making, and shaping the cultural landscape.

  6. Only Relevant for Traditional Arts: There is a misconception that arts management is more applicable to traditional art forms and less relevant for contemporary or experimental arts. Arts managers play a crucial role in supporting a wide range of artistic expressions, including those at the forefront of innovation. We believe every artist and arts organisation should have access to an arts manager/arts management service irrespective of the field or form they practice.

  7. Exclusively Western Model: Some may perceive arts management as a Western-centric concept, not applicable to diverse cultural contexts like India. However, arts management principles are adaptable and relevant globally, and they can be effectively applied to promote and sustain the arts in diverse cultural settings. SNS particularly works hard to utilise western business practices within the Indian cultural context to especially develop the field of Arts Management that is better suited to India.

  8. Not Essential for Independent Artists: Independent artists might believe that they don't need arts managers. However, even individual artists can benefit from the expertise of arts managers in areas like marketing, networking, and financial management to enhance their professional careers.

We believe addressing these misconceptions is crucial for a better understanding of the multifaceted and dynamic nature of arts management. It's important to understanding that Arts Management is a practice and not just a position. Recognising the integral role that arts managers play in supporting and advancing the arts can contribute to a more informed and collaborative arts ecosystem.

Author: Shreya Nagarajan Singh

Shreya is the founder of SNS Arts Management Consultancy. She has a strong background in the performance arts, as a Bharathnatyam dancer and comes from a family of performers. She has been a regular patron of music, dance and theatre for a two decades. Through her company she helps artists navigate the management of their careers and art organisations in curating and executing business plans and events alike.

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