AIMAC CONFERENCE day three 

Our final day we used to Marseille to spend most of the day at Friche de la belle de Mai, a great location, with big cool auditoriums, as well as being a fascinating space.
After the artist studio tour, and morning tea, we settled in for the final plenary session, in English this time. Not to sound all Anglo Saxon dominant and colonial but HOORAY.

On a proposed new models for arts funding the panel consisted of perspectives broader than just European and presentations were restricted so dialogue could be had. Finally a well orchestrated round table…..well that was the theory. The reality was the introductory speakers went well over an hour and then the whole session ran 30 minutes late. You could feel the crowd tuning out 3/4 way through.
There’s been a lot of discussion on crowd funding, and Zannie Voss from SMU Dallas raised the point that crowd funding is shallow, there’s no one to one relationship with donors, which makes we wonder why no one is studying the ‘Amanda Palmer phenomenon’ because this clearly contradicts this idea that crowd funding doesn’t promote individual connection.
The Chinese perspective highlighted that government and industry focus has been on establishing creative industries, in which they have been very successful, but there is almost no support, government or otherwise for public cultural institutions. This is the new area of exploration.
We also heard from the head of fundraising from the Louvre, one of the most important people in this space globally. He spoke about how it was harder to attract business sponsorship unless there are two factors, one it links to social causes too for CSR purposes, or they want strong marketing benefit, bang for their sponsorship buck.

Little gift giving comes from individuals in France, but it is growing both from major donors and little value campaigns and crowd funding. The idea that culture as a sponsorship opportunity alone is not enough was a theme in a few places, culture needed to align with some other social cause or issue- culture plus youth for example.
A big issue, outside the U.S. where it has existed for a while, is the professionalization of fundraising as an industry and a career. Much training needs to occur in this space.

After lunch you would think would be the killer slot, the last session on the last afternoon of the conference, in a dark room on a 30 plus degree day. I’d say, however, they were three of the best presentations I’d seen over the conference. The first was a study of a creative clusters using a museum case study in Vienna engagingly presented by a double team. The second two were both American, the former examining knowledge centric organisations and whether they have better organisational performance outcomes and the latter on the relationship a state’s entrepreneurial climate and the sustainability of arts and culture organisations.

This wrapped up the content for AIMAC15, with only the awards, a final museum visit and the gala dinner to come. Or I should say the Gala dinner that wasn’t, but more on the other blog.

AIMAC doctoral symposium 2015 day one

It was with a strong sense of nervousness that I arrived at the location for the International Arts Management conference doctoral workshop.  Would my research hold up amongst an international, highly qualified audience of my peers? Was my presentation appropriate? (We had limited guidelines.) Was I dressed right. (Hey, I’m superficial.)

The last question was answered pretty quickly- yes. As unsurprisingly the participants were largely women aged 25-40 and we all dressed similarly (arts stereotypes anyone?)

The kick off session on research methodologies from a Roger Bennett eased my mind about question two. It was interesting but also demonstrated that good presentation style counts for much, so I knew I’d hold the audience well. The second session, a really informative analysis of trends in publication in arts management and creative industries in Europe , answered a bit more and made me realise two things. One I know what I’m talking about, in particular my experience teaching cultural policy has served me really well in understanding key trends and theories. Secondly, my thesis is in an emerging area combined with a classic one. I’m taking a classic arts management theme, leadership, and looking at it in what was described in an avante-garde way.  I can tell by my positioning within the program that the scientific committee didn’t really know what to do with me.  This is good, as I’m charting new territory, but bad because I may not be ‘arts management enough’ for my potential examiners.  This has got me thinking about the positioning of my thesis and future career. While I’m working in now, and hope to have a job, in arts and cultural management, my thesis itself may be too interdisciplinary and narrative orientated.  I hope not.(Elaine if you’re reading this we might need to discuss.) I think I will get an indication as to how the academic world sees me with the acceptance or rejection of my recently completed journal article.

The key themes emerging in arts and cultural management, interestingly summarised by Anne Gombault, are:

  • The creative turn- the shift from arts management to creative industries.
  • The digital turn- the impact, or disruption, of digital on the discipline and sector.
  • Private art funding and entrepreneurship- a long term area in the USA and Australia but only now an issue in Europe as public funding diminishes.
  • Governance and evaluation- I was interested to hear there is still very little evaluation and measurement of cultural policy outcomes in Europe and boards have very little power or influence.
  • The avant-garde- which included areas like celebrity, careers and design thinking.
  • The classics- arts marketing, leadership (which I sort of fall in, but with a new approach), management control and dual leadership.

The post presentation conversation got into some interesting territory about the rise and fall of Eureopean dominance, but the informative comment of one of the assessors/advisors in the program, Gretchen Larsen from Durham raised the idea that it was more to do with the rise in neo-liberal thinking than geography (which I agree.) Later we got talking, she’s a New Zealander so we gravitated towards each other drawn by flat vowels, and I think I found my first kindred spirit. It’s interesting trying to read the political dynamics of something like this conference. 

The early afternoon was spent watching the first of the PhD presentations, and now I’m pretty confident that I can present effectively because a)  this is not outside my realm of experience and b) I know my stuff inside and out. And I’m ace at presenting, public speaking is my jam. (Shall revisit this tomorrow post presentation because I have the co-chair of the whole event as one of my assessors, who also happens to be the editor of the most prestigious journal in the space….so no pressure.)

The last sessions of the day on publication and coping with a PhD were well intentioned but probably didn’t teach me anything I hadn’t learned comprehensively at UTS, once again reaffirming my good choice in applying to go there. I’m extremely thankful for the guidance I’ve received, both from my supervisor and from the staff in general.

We broke at 6:30pm, and after starting at 8:30am, I was crushed. There was some sort of experiential art event planned later in the evening, but I know myself well enough to know a bit of alone time was needed before my ‘big’ day tomorrow.