Arts Administrator Residencies-Is There A Need?

I am not quite sure what drew my eye to it but Fractured Atlas did an interview with the founders of the Philadelphia Art Hotel this January. I don’t know why, but the project just looks and sounds a like a cool idea.

Personally, if I were a visual artist, I would probably tend toward the residencies in rural settings which is where a lot of them are located. Ready access to the Philadelphia art scene is not to be undervalued though.

I would probably sell my children into slavery to participate in the Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

It is probably fortunate then that I am not a visual artist. And I don’t have kids either. That is probably better since they have a performing arts program and I would still love to work there for the washrooms alone!

I don’t really talk about artist residencies too much. Perhaps because there aren’t too many for arts administrators. If you check the residency search tool at the Alliance of Artistic Communities website, administration is not even a search option. The only place I am aware of that offers one is The Studios of Key West which I wrote about 18 months ago.

I start to think that people like Michael Kaiser are correct when he talks about how few training opportunities there are to make people good arts administrators. There aren’t many opportunities for them to take a retreat and do research. Though to be fair, residencies for arts managers isn’t really part of the ethos. Arts administrators don’t get granted long periods of time to hone their skills. I don’t know if there is a market for offering residencies to them. How many administrators would ask for the opportunity? Most would say they don’t have the time. Kaiser talks about starting his day at 4 am which pretty much reflects the trend for many arts administrators.

One might say the Kennedy Center’s Art Management Fellowships are a sort of residency for arts managers. It combines practical work experience around the Kennedy Center with classes on relevant topics. And I believe they provide a $20,000 stipend to support yourself which is really pretty decent compared to what I was paid to intern. Though since the fellowships are for mid-career administrators,they would be bringing much more to the table than an intern would.

In any case, I would imagine the days there are just as long and involved as the position the arts manager left to become a fellow. That doesn’t give a lot of time for reflection and thinking about what the future of the arts might be and how one can restructure their organization to move forward to acknowledge these changes.

This summer I waswoolgathering a little about taking advantage of low real estate prices in Detroit to help grow an arts community there. I wonder if I was being too narrow in my vision and should have been thinking of including opportunities for arts managers to cultivate their skills too since there are so few opportunities.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.

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