Who chooses cultural management as a career, and why?

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Today’s Arts Management Network newsletter carries a very interesting review of the French sociologist Vincent Dubois’ new book Culture as a Vocation: Sociology of career choices in cultural management.

Based on interviews with 654 students in MA courses in cultural management in France, it yields some intriguing insights on the demographics and aspirations of those seeking to become cultural managers (emphases mine):

Dubois examines, on the basis of his survey, the social factors and characteristics of the aspirants for an occupation in cultural management. In doing so he finds that these persons are mainly female, in the majority have a comparatively secure social background, often originate from families of academics and are equipped with a high educational capital. On top of that they frequently come out of an environment in which they early had the opportunity to socialize in a cultural way, as for example by getting private teaching lessons in music instruments or by being member of a theatre group.

This resonates strongly with my experience working in UCD’s Arts Management & Cultural Policy MA for 13 years. Given that arts management is often an economically precarious and competitive career, Dubois’ research into individual motivations for pursuing this path is intriguing:

Finally, Dubois points out further reasons for a career aspiration in cultural management – resulting from a broader social context. Thus, many of his study participants understand cultural work as an expression of self-fulfillment, freedom and satisfaction, because it gives them the feeling of doing something for the public welfare and acting for a higher purpose in life. Thereby, at the same time, they distance themselves from pure economically orientated occupational fields. A career in cultural management by that becomes a personal self-realization project, all in the sense of the central concepts of neo-capitalism.

Whether or not you agree such aspirations are an expression of neo-capitalist ideologies (and I would be more doubtful of aspects of this analysis), the descriptions Dubois offers are very compelling. To date, most research on the arts labour market deals with artists’ careers, incomes and training. Given the expansion and development of arts management as a specific career path (something I am directly involved with), this type of research is very valuable in thinking through the challenges of arts management training, and consequences for the sector as a whole. The overwhelming dominance of entry-mid level arts management positions by women, for example, is often remarked upon, but we understand little about the effect this actually has on careers, progression, and the functioning of arts organisations themselves.

One of the insights I found most interesting is Dubois’ description of the relationship between the social backgrounds of arts management and audience development agendas:

Dubois’ findings make it clear that the diversification of the audience required by cultural institutions can hardly be successful if the majority of their staff originates from academic families with a (high) cultural education. They simply cannot put themselves in the position of the living conditions of socially disadvantaged people or groups of society belonging to minorities and therefore in their work they reflect – as it is also criticised again and again – especially their own expectations of culture and cultural mediation.

This is a problem further exacerbated by the prevalence of unpaid internships in the arts, which creates a significant barrier to a diverse work force — a paradox not fully acknowledged by arts organisations that may run outreach programmes, but be structurally closed off for professional entry by individuals from similarly challenged backgrounds.

There are so many questions raised by this study — I look forward to reading the full text at length — and discussing whether they apply (or not) to the Irish experience.

 

Just published: Vol. 3 of Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy

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I’m delighted to announce we’ve just published the latest volume of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. It’s a special issue featuring the edited proceedings of the 2014 summer conference on ‘Mapping an Altered Landscape: Cultural Policy and Management in Ireland‘. Guest edited by Dr Niamh NicGhabhann from University of Limerick, it features contributions from a range of speakers on the day, who offer candid and contemporary views of the cultural sector and public finance, the role of local authorities, policy, the working lives of artists, and a range of other topics. The journal also features introductory essays by Niamh and conference organisers Pat Cooke and Kerry McCall, as well as a postscript by former Minister for Education Ruari Quinn.

You can download the entire issue here, or visit the www.culturalpolicy.ie to download individual contributions by:

  • Gerry Godley (Principal & Managing Director, Leeds College of Music)
  • Clare Duignan (Independent Director & Business Advisor)
  • Peter Hynes (Chief Executive, Mayo County Council)
  • Alan Counihan (Artist)
  • Mary Carty (Entrepreneur, Arts Consultant, Author)
  • Conor Newman (Chair, Heritage Council)
  • Ruari Quinn (Minister for Education and Skills, 2011-14)

 

Call for book reviewers – Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy

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*Update: we’ve received a great response to this call, many thanks! The call for expressions of interest is now closed, but additional calls for future issues will also be advertised.*

The Editorial Board of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy is now seeking expressions of interest for reviews of the following recent publications for Volume 3 of the Journal:

Synopses of the various books and further details can be downloaded here. Interested reviewers should email info@culturalpolicy.ie by Monday, 11 May with a brief statement of interest and a short bio / CV. Books will be sent to reviewers, and final text (approximately 2,000 words) will be due June 2015. Style guidelines and further details may be found at www.culturalpolicy.ie. Volume 2 (2014) of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy (www.culturalpolicy.ie) is also now available.

Public lecture: ‘Excellence and Cultural Policy’ by Dr Constance DeVereaux

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‘Excellence and Cultural Policy: narratives in the making’

Dr Constance DeVereaux, Assoc. Professor, LEAP Institute for the Arts, Colorado State University

6th June 2014 1-3pm

Rm: Q006, Quinn School of Business, Belfield, University College Dublin

The use of narrative analysis in policy science gained popularity in the 1990s but has been largely rejected by mainstream policy researchers working in a positivist vein. Narrative methods have been criticized for lack of rigour, clear hypothesis testing, and difficulties of replication and falsification. Despite traditional social science’s success in providing this rigour, its methods may come up short for use in cultural policy where analysts must account for the inherent messiness of culture. Drawing on her work with co-researcher Martin Griffin in their recent book Narrative, Identity, and the Map of Cultural Policy, (Ashgate 2013) Dr. Constance DeVereaux will outline a framework for use by cultural policy researchers with practical application to particular cultural policy issues. These include cultural citizenship and identity, cultural diplomacy, and the interpretation of formal cultural policy documents.

Dr. Constance DeVereaux’s guest lecture is an advance presentation for the UCD – IADT ‘Mapping an Altered landscape’ conference on Cultural Policy and Management in Ireland

To attend, please contact: Kerry.McCall@iadt.ie

Vacancy: Assistant Editor, Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy

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Vacancy: Assistant Editor, Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy (www.culturalpolicy.ie) (temporary; part-time)

School of Art History & Cultural Policy, University College Dublin
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

(download spec as PDF)

Organization Description

The Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy (www.culturalpolicy.ie) is a peer-reviewed, open access e-journal publishing original research on the arts and cultural sector in Ireland. An initiative sponsored by School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin (UCD) and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), it seeks to provide a readable and engaging discussion of recent arts management and cultural policy research for academics and practitioners, encourage new research directions in the sector and offer a platform for aspiring researchers and writers. The Journal’s aims include to:

  • Disseminate high quality, recent academic research on all aspects of Irish arts management and cultural policy in an accessible, dynamic and professionally designed format
  • Serve as an educational resource for arts management and cultural policy professionals, and students studying related topics
  • Support the skill development of professionals working in the arts and cultural sector
  • Encourage debate on topical issues related to arts and cultural management/policy
  • Support and grow a vibrant Irish research community, allowing for the exchange of ideas and promoting research collaborations between individuals and organizations

Articles published by the Journal span the following areas:

  • cultural policy
  • arts and cultural management
  • cultural tourism and the creative industries
  • cultural economics and finance
  • heritage and museum studies
  • arts education
  • governance and administration
  • arts marketing
  • audience development and participation
  • philanthropy / fundraising
  • cultural production / consumption

The project is edited and managed by an editorial team of academics, with further input from its international advisory board.

Role

We are currently seeking expressions of interest in the role of Assistant Editor for Issue 2 of IJAMCP. This role provides an excellent opportunity to gain experience in editing and online publishing, and would be especially suitable for recent graduates (or current PhDs) of postgraduate programmes in related disciplines.

Working in conjunction with the Editorial Board, the Assistant Editor will be responsible for assistance with copy editing, administration tasks, correspondence and online editing/layout. This is a flexible, part-time, and temporary project role which is unpaid, but carries a stipend of €500. Running from May 2014-May 2015, the time commitment is variable but will be approximately 3-5 hours weekly. Bi-monthly meetings in Dublin will be required, but otherwise the candidate may be based anywhere.

Candidates should possess:

  • a postgraduate qualification in Arts Management, Cultural Policy or a related field
  • demonstrated research achievement and strong knowledge of the Irish cultural sector
  • strong working knowledge of word processing software and ability to quickly learn online content management systems
  • attention to detail and excellent editing/writing skills
  • ability to work independently and with access to own laptop/computer

Please forward on a CV and cover letter expressing your interest in the role to info@culturalpolicy.ie by Friday, 25 April 2014.