The Arts Management Handbook by Meg Brindle and Constance DeVeraux (Eds.) (2011, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN-10: 0765617420)
As I have only recently graduated I have read quite a few books with similar titles, such as ‘Management and the Arts’ (Byrnes, 2008) and ‘Arts Management’ (Chong, 2009), so I didn’t expect to find much new in this book. I must say though, that ‘The Arts Management Handbook’ surprised me. It has a new focus on professionalism, not just hands-on practice or cultural theories, and brings up questions about how the arts manager can be part of the creative process, seeing the arts and management not as opposing but as combined forces.
Even though The Arts Management Handbook has twelve chapters written by nine authors, it has a unifying concept behind the formation of the chapters. This makes the book easier to read but is especially helpful when using the book as a handbook. It takes a step-by-step approach, with very relevant case scenarios at the beginning and end of each chapter. Some of the books I have read before are very focused on their own market space, making it hard to use them as teaching material in other geographic regions, such the UK or USA. This is a permanent issue in Iceland, which is such a small language area that we constantly have to adopt books from other areas. The Arts Management Handbook might have been written in the USA, and certainly does focus on the law and working environment there, but in my opinion this does not detract from the quality of the book. Most of the principles mentioned in the book can be applied to other areas such as UK or Iceland.
For a young arts manager The Arts Management Handbook is useful as just that – a handbook; but for arts management students it is most definitely a good read from A to Z, as it shows the diversity in the working environment that faces arts managers today. It might not add much for the more experienced practitioners, but I still think that the issues this book raises about professionalism in arts management is something all arts managers could benefit from reading.
Review by Signý Leifsdóttir, cultural consultant at Aura Arts Management, Reykjavík.