ArtsManaged Field Notes

Arts managers are action figures!…

published2 months ago
1 min read

“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.”
Martha Graham

Weekly Features (scroll down)
Each week, I'll feature a different "function" and a "framework" from the ArtsManaged Field Guide. Scroll to the bottom of this email to find them.

  • Function of the Week: Marketing
  • Framework of the Week: Motivation, Opportunity, Ability

Dear Reader,

The arts are often described as reflective and ruminative, detached from practical concerns, and focused on the inner life. But creative and management practice in the arts are inextricably entangled with action. A creative inspiration manifests only when the artists move or make a mark. Arts managers only have an impact when they do something.

“A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head. If no one gets to see it it’s as good as dead. It has to come to light.”
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, from Sunday in the Park with George

This doesn't mean that artistic or management practice lack reflection. It just underscores that action is a defining element of what art is and what art does.

That shouldn't be a surprise. We humans are action figures, after all, evolved to engage and endure the problems of living. And every sensory, cognitive, emotional, and social system we have is shaped by its potential for action (see Substrate for more).

Organizational theorist Karl Weick suggested that “thinking is inseparably woven into and occurs simultaneously with action.” We don't just express our thinking in an email, a memo, a policy, or a gesture. Those actions are thinking. We make sense of the world by acting in it. And we act in the world to make sense of it, so that we can act in it.

The ArtsManaged Field Guide is an attempt to extend this truth to the ways we explore, explain, and express Arts Management as a professional practice. That's why the guide focuses on functions – categories or repertories of action – as well as the frameworks we can use to attend, perceive, and act effectively.

Moving on!



Function of the Week: Marketing

Marketing includes a repertory of actions intended to create, communicate, and reinforce expected or experienced value.

Read and watch more about marketing in the Field Guide.

Framework of the Week: Motivation, Opportunity, Ability

When a colleague isn’t performing to a standard you thought you both agreed upon, there are three words that can help you find a path to clarity, insight, and positive action.

Is the primary issue a matter of motivation (the internal goal state of the person, or the connection between the work at hand and the outcomes they care about), opportunity (the environmental aids or barriers to expected behavior), or ability (the skills or capacities the person brings to the work)? Your path to productive action will depend upon what you learn.

Read about the Motivation, Opportunity, Ability framework in the Field Guide.