Management of the arts – between performance and communication, innovation and preservation

Arts & Culture Knowledge Center


Communication, personal relationship and innovation. Future scenarios in the arts are not far from those in other human activities dealing with a complex and rapidly evolving world, as well as an increasing hybridization of forms and contexts. And you can only understand and govern those scenarios if you can imagine and explore new ways of communicating and experimenting the artistic product. Yes, it is a “product”: in spite of the (anachronistic) concept of “art for art’s sake”, artistic thinking and creation will increasingly need the support of a new and consistent entrepreneurial approach.


These results have emerged, among others, in the “Future of the Arts” three-day event SDA Bocconi’s Arts&Culture Knowledge Center has organized together with the Advisory Board of the Arts. “The Knowledge Center is the keystone coordinating the numerous activities and the various people in the School who develop different kinds of theoretical and applied research in this field” said Andrea Rurale, responsible for the Arts & Culture Knowledge Center.


Andrea Rurale and Piergiacomo Mion dalle Carbonare, Director and Coordinator of the Master in Arts Management and Administration – MAMA, have discussed the evolution of management and shared pioneering experiences in the arts sector with a number of world-class stakeholders such as Magnus Aspegren, CEO of the Riksteatern - Swedish National Theatre; Pilar Cárdenas, Senior Director Europe of the Advisory Board for the Arts, and Chris Denby, CEO and founder of the same Advisory Board; Alan Fletcher, CEO and President of the Aspen Music Festival and School; Eldbjørg Hemsing, Artistic Director of the Oslo International Arts Festival; James Inverne, CEO and founder of James Inverne Music Consultancy; Ruben Jais, Artistic and Executive Director of the “laVerdi” Orchestra; Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican Centre; Andres Lacasa Nikiforov, General Manager of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia; Eva Lerner-Lam, President of the Si-Yo Music Foundation; Francesca Moncada, Presidente and founder of Le Dimore del Quartetto; Etienne Reymond, CEO and Artistic Director of LuganoMusica; Michael Williams, CEO of the Buxton Festival.


Bringing artistic events closer to their audience: this has been one of the highlights in the panel discussion, and it is a must in the artists’ self-entrepreneurship. If it is true that “art speaks for itself”, it then needs to reach a wider and wider audience and to stand out in the global web scene. The managerial and communication side cannot be optional in artistic production but it needs to flank and support it throughout the whole process.


This is even more the case when art needs to enter the so-called “cultural deserts”, where there is no exposure to culture. If the public is not approaching art, art should go to the public. And often it is the artist in person who does so. Many are the examples in point, especially as far as music is concerned: in the purpose of reaching every corner of the country, the Scottish Opera has performed in 52 different locations so far. The members of the Swedish symphonic orchestra in Malmö have performed for free in schools, gym halls and other locations throughout the city, and they have invited the audience to join in their concerts at the concert hall where they would personally thank each and everyone who did so from the stage. World-renowned American violinist Joshua Bell’s famous performance/provocation in the Washington underground is periodically re-posted on social media – his performance thus becoming a “story” and engaging the audience. After changing the way of communicating in marketing, storytelling can be of great help in the arts.


Today, experiencing art is also experiencing a personal relationship. Take the success of the InsideOut Concerts, “the ultimate surround-sound experience, and perhaps the future of classical music”: symphonic concerts where a (necessarily small) audience sits in the orchestra, side by side with the musicians. This experiential model opens the way to many potential developments and triggers a number of considerations that can be summed up in one question: will concert halls become a place where you listen to music while having a drink?


These forms of artistic performance have a common denominator: innovation. Necessary as it is, as we have seen, this is a tricky thing at the same time in a field where value mostly relies on heritage. Marrying innovation and preservation, so that they do not collide but rather mutually enhance each other, is therefore the challenge of challenges in arts management. A challenge you can only win by combining your being inherently keen on art with a specific and state-of-the-art managerial training.


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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