ArtsManaged Field Notes

Make things and tell people…

publishedabout 1 month ago
2 min read

As numerous creatives have noted over the years, the optimal career strategy is simple:
Make things and tell people.
Rob Fitzpatrick and Adam Rosen, in Write Useful Books

Weekly Features (scroll down to find them) ​
Function of the Week: Program & Production | Framework of the Week: The Adjacent Possible | Questions? Ask ArtsManaged

Dear Reader,

At the core of any creative practice is the driving impulse to "make things and tell people." That's true for the individual author drafting a poem with pen and paper, and for the hundreds of artists, craftspeople, technicians, and team members working together to produce live opera or public sculpture or immersive media experiences. The difference is not in the calling, but in the complexity and scale of the craft.

Arts Management connects that impulse to its full realization in the world. As I define it, Arts Management is the "practice of aggregating and animating people, money, and stuff toward expressive ends." But managers who lose sight of the driving impulse can, instead, diffuse and distract the moving parts into an incoherent and unsustainable mess. The challenge is to activate the practical and tactical functions of Arts Management while remaining true to the poetic and profound.

In Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, Jane Hirshfield writes:

Every good work of art holds something that was not quite knowable before its own existence.

Along the many paths to "make things and tell people," arts managers are both guides and explorers – reducing uncertainty in process and practice while also holding space for the beautiful unknown.



Function of the Week: Program & Production

Program & Production involves developing, assembling, presenting, and preserving coherent services or experiences. It includes the full array of people, money, and stuff required to grow a creative impulse into a vibrant connection between artists and audiences. In blunt terms, Program & Production bundles artistic ideas into an "offer" that audiences can consider, accept, and experience.

Framework of the Week: The Adjacent Possible

Planning and strategy in the arts is often imagined as an intentional journey to a distinct but distant land. Participants succeed through the clarity of their description and the discipline and drudgery of approaching the imagined milestones between here and there. But the evolution and resilience of animals and adaptive systems offers a different journey – not an obvious path to a distant vision, but a creative and intentional exploration of the immediate world around us.

Drawn from evolutionary theory, the "Adjacent Possible" describes all the options and actions available to an animal or adaptive system. Given its current capacity and context, what next steps are possible? And among those, which move it toward resilience? Evolution doesn't follow a north star. Rather it explores the adjacent possible with relentless intensity.

It is possible (and often productive) to forgo the distant vision, and to explore the next compelling step.

Have a Question? Ask ArtsManaged

Do you have a puzzle, problem, or persistant concern about Arts Management? Post your question to this online and anonymous form . I’ll select questions to answer in the Field Guide, or in this newsletter, so that we can all learn together about the real-world messes we face.