Tunnel vision is an affliction suffered by a good few managers in the arts ? and perhaps this is inevitable.
A passion for the arts is something of a prerequisite for someone in role of artistic director; but even managers with less arts-specific titles, such as chief executives, marketing directors or administrators, are likely to have arrived in their posts because of their enthusiasm for an artform. They are extremely unlikely to have arrived in their roles with a career history in corporate finance, manufacturing industry, the health service or the armed forces. Of course not, we hear you cry. These people wouldn?t really understand the ?special? nature of an arts organisation, and therefore couldn?t possibly be qualified to run an orchestra, a theatre or a gallery: and this will usually be true. But if that?s the case, how do arts organisations prevent themselves from becoming one-dimensional, narrow-focused and inward-looking? And how do their leaders develop an understanding of some of the broader issues affecting the context in which their organisations exist? Common Purpose (p8) offers a very interesting answer to that question. Perhaps an involvement with this forward-thinking organisation should be de rigeur for anyone newly appointed to a senior post in the arts. But you can already hear the protests? ?it?s not specifically about the arts? so it won?t be relevant for me?.?
Apologies to readers of APE-MAIL, who were expecting our feature by Professor Hugh Davidson, who was due to spill the beans about his comparative research into the management of arts organisations and the corporate sector. Due to pressures of space we?re holding this over for the next issue? but it?s worth waiting for!