Info You Can Use: You Can Hack Being An Arts Administrator

Drew McManus is fulfilling one of my ambitions.

When I was first starting out this blog, I envisioned creating some sort of repository of information about arts and arts administration that people could consult.

It should be noted that I was unemployed when I started this blog nearly 11 years ago so I had a lot of time on my hands to be ambitious. That plan never panned out. Getting a job and getting really busy sort of diverted my focus from that.

However, despite being quite busy with his job as a consultant, Drew McManus has deluded concluded that trolling through 990 filings and evaluating the effectiveness of orchestra websites aren’t monopolizing enough of his time.

Drew has decided to create an Arts Administration version of Lifehacker. He is looking for people to be contributors to this effort. If you are interested, sign up on his website.

To my mind, everyone has something to contribute. If you are a student in college, you can contribute tips on engaging your friends and colleagues.

If you live outside the U.S. there are plenty of challenges we face in common and plenty of insights from your particular experiences that can be of value.

In that vein, I wanted to call attention to a course being offered free online by Stanford “How To Start A Start up” It is being hosted by Sam Altman of the venture firm Y Combinator. The course speakers are a who’s who of Silicon Valley.

It isn’t directly arts related, but there will obviously be some commonalities with arts business. Among the topics are building company culture, how to operate, how to manage and how to raise money. Everyone keeps talking about the need for a shift in thinking in the arts and this may spur some different approaches.

After learning about this class, I did a survey of all the Massive Open Online Courses being offered by different entities around the country -MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Coursera etc. No one offers anything related to arts administration that I could see. The only online arts administration program I am aware of is the Certified Performing Arts Executive program at University of New Orleans.

[N.B. Dang it! Nina Simon made a liar of me pointing out this course on arts innovation. It didn’t show up on my search because it started the day before.]

Given the lack of any centralized source of information, tips and tricks related to arts administration, a resource like the one Drew is proposing is sorely needed.

Please consider signing up to make a contribution. With your help, a lot of people will be able to hack being arts administrators

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 ( 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. (

My most recent role was as Executive 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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