Back in November, I posted about Twelve Functions of Arts Management as a first attempt at a list of key/core clusters of action in the arts manager’s toolbox. I received some great feedback and challenges (thanks to you all!) and have been stewing on it since then. And now I’m focused on the Ten Functions of Arts Management instead. I’ve posted a video about the revised list in the new #ArtsManaged video series (as Danny Newman would say: “subscribe now”).
A few functions changed title and description thanks to your feedback. And gone from the original list are “contracting” – which I now believe to be a thread that runs through all of the functions – and (possibly shocking) “creation | curation.” Here again, creation and curation didn’t feel like “functions” in an organization as much of the purpose and source, yet another thread rather than a distinct bundle of actions. I’m guessing there will be some pushback on this idea, so push away.
Below is a list of the Ten Functions, categorized as before into “engaging,” “enacting,” and “enabling” groups. Looking forward to more of your feedback.
Program | Production
Developing, assembling, preserving, and presenting coherent services or experiences.
Creating, communicating, and reinforcing expected or experienced value.
Inviting, greeting, serving, and supporting guests, visitors, neighbors, artists, and staff.
Designing, deriving, and capturing inbound revenue from goods, services, or access.
Gifts | Grants
Attracting, securing, aligning, and retaining contributed resources.
Designing and driving systems and practices that attract, engage, retain, and develop people within the enterprise.
Spaces | Systems
Selecting, securing, stewarding, and harnessing the built environment and technological infrastructure.
Designing, maintaining, and sustaining systems of money and stuff.
Structuring, sustaining, and overseeing the organization’s purposes, resources, and goals.
Recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting financial states and actions.
In another video, we talked about what Arts Management is. So now let’s talk about what arts managers do.
Hi, I’m Andrew Taylor. I’m on the faculty of Arts Management at American University in Washington, DC. And this is ArtsManaged, a series of resources about Arts Management: what it is, how it works, how you might get better at it.
Today, let’s dig a bit into the functions of Arts Management, or the bundles of action that arts managers take when they’re trying to help an act of human creative expression move from inspiration to living practice to full conversation with its community.
As you can imagine, there’s a ton of things arts managers do along that route. I’ve broken them down into 10 clusters, which I call the 10 functions. And these are 10 lenses on the kinds of work you might be doing as an arts manager. In future videos, we’ll talk about each in depth, but this is an overview of all 10.
They’re categorized in three areas. One I would call “engaging functions.” These are the functions that actually look out into the world, create work, and then share that work with the outer world. Then there’s “enacting functions” which tend to be inward looking. They look into the organization and think about, well, how do we organize ourselves internally to make this process work. And then finally, there’s “enabling functions.” These are functions that live in between the external and the internal, the outward and the inward.
And again, you can define these in a bunch of different ways. We’re just trying to find the path and that gives us the most productive conversation.
So let’s take them one by one. And again, briefly. We’ll cover this more in other videos.
On the engaging side, obviously, you have program and production. So this is a bundle of skills around developing, assembling, preserving, and presenting coherent services or experiences for an audience or community. And these involve all sorts of logistical and operational needs. But you can imagine for each discipline, the production or program function is different.
Next, we’ll talk about a marketing function. This is where you create, communicate, and reinforce the expected or experienced value of the work. How do you share to the wider world what it would feel like to be in a space and encourage people to come whether it’s physically located in a single space or available online or in a distributed form?
Next, we might think about a welcoming function. The welcoming function is about inviting people, engaging them, greeting them, serving them, and supporting them. And these can be guests or visitors or neighbors or artists or staff. Often this is called “hospitality” in other industries. But there’s a function around how do we consider the ways we welcome, engage, support, and serve those who come both internally and externally to our organization.
Next is one of two revenue functions, how do we get money into the system. And one of those ways is through sales, which might sound a crass term, but it’s really about creating products or resources and services that people are willing and able to pay for in exchange to access those services. So sales are about direct exchange of goods, services, and access – usually for money, but not always.
And then there’s another income or revenue stream which is beyond sales called gifts and grants. So gifts and grant functions are around attracting and securing and aligning and retaining contributed sources of income and resources: major gifts from donors, annual gifts from individual’s corporate gifts, foundations. We’ll explore in a different video the difference between gifts and grants, but for now, let’s consider them all part of the combined category of function.
Those are the five engaging functions. And next, let’s turn to the enacting functions. These are, again, inward looking to the organization where the managers have to figure out what what are we doing inside the enterprise. And how are we making that work so that we can succeed in the outward facing functions we’ve defined.
First and foremost, obviously, is people operations, which might be called Human Resources in some categories. It’s basically how do you design and drive systems and practices that attract, engage, retain, and develop people within the enterprise? So this might be employed staff. It could be volunteers. It could be gig workers or temporary contractors, people who are working inside the enterprise. How are we thinking about them and making a space where they can thrive and be successful and advancing the work we’ve defined?
Next, you have to think about spaces and systems. So whether or not you are in a physically located arts organization with a physically located arts experience, you have to think about the physical space within which you do your work. And then within which people experience it. Here I include both physical spaces, the built environment, and also technological infrastructure, because there’s a lot of structures around technology that you might find yourself using as an arts organization as an arts manager: ticketing systems, reporting systems, operational systems. Lots of things you have to decide, well, how are we going to use this material these systems and how are they going to integrate with a larger purpose and mission and the other functions we have?
Third in the enacting function is finance, which is different than accounting. We’re going to get to accounting in a minute. Finance is really about designing, maintaining, and sustaining systems of money and stuff. And again, its systems view means we’re thinking about how the larger resources we have are arranged. What is their proportion to each other? How do they speak to each other? This is a complex bit of business, which we’ll get into in another video. But for now, let’s understand finance as sort of the strategic and structural view of all the economic value we have at our disposal in the enterprise and how it’s arranged in relationship.
The third category is the enabling functions, which I said are right between the outward facing of the engaging and the inward facing of the enacting functions. And there’s two here that I want to focus on.
One of the most complex and the most challenging, and there’s lots of courses on this, is governance. Governance is the structuring, sustaining, and oversight of the organization’s purposes, resources, and goals. So who has authority and control of the enterprise and its relationship to its larger world? Who keeps it accountable? And who IS accountable to that organization’s compliance with rules and regulations, with its strategic alignment of resources, with all the other functions? Who oversees and governs all of those things? And that in a nonprofit tends to be the governing board. But there’s lots of different structures that you might think about using and animating for an arts and cultural enterprise.
Finally, as an enabling function, I put accounting. Accounting is recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting financial transactions that move in and out of your enterprise. This is different than finance, although obviously deeply related. Accounting is how are we tracking the material and economic resources that move in and out of the organization? How are we categorizing those transactions? How are we looking at them and reporting them both in ways that are responsible and responsive to federal, state, and local law, but that also helps all the other people in the system understand what’s happening in our financial resources, and what dynamics are going on there that we may pay attention to.
So that’s 10 categories of functions, or clusters of action, that obviously overlap at all sorts of interesting and complicated ways. But it was important to start with just an overview of the full landscape of how arts and cultural managers act in the world.
You might notice some missing pieces here. Like I didn’t say the creation or curation function. Because I tend to categorize that as the purpose and process that is the entire reason for the enterprise. It’s not a separate function, it’s infused throughout all of them. We’ll talk more about creation, which is about the making of things to be available in the world, and curation, which is about arranging of things in relationship to each other and with the world, which are obviously central to the arts and cultural managers life. But I tend to think of them as separate from the functions that they might do in advancing that purpose. It is the purpose. It is the well from which we draw all the water.
Other things you might find missing: I didn’t say strategy anywhere in there, because again, strategy lives across all of these functions and between them. I didn’t talk about policy, because again, policy lives in all of these functions and between them. So we’ll talk about what I guess we’ll call threads later. But these are functions. These are actions that you would take as an arts and cultural manager, as an arts administrator.
And again, there’s 10 of them. There’s program and production, marketing, welcoming, sales, gifts and grants, people operations, spaces and systems, finance, governance, and accounting. These are the functions we’re going to dive in a little bit deeper in future videos. And we’ll keep coming back to this to understand not only how they work independently, but how they integrate into a coherent arts and cultural management enterprise.
That’s the beginning. That’s 10 functions. I hope it’s a good start. And I look forward to digging in a little bit deeper in future videos.
Trevor O'Donnell says
Hi, Andrew. These videos are great. I really appreciate your thoughtful breakdown of arts management functions and can’t wait for more detail.
I need to quibble with your sales category, though. Sales is an externally focused, interpersonal, persuasive process through which representatives of the organization identify unmet needs, wants and desires among patrons and partners in the community, then set about satisfying them with arts products, relationships, and mutually beneficial means of access. Sales is goal oriented community engagement.
The exchange of money for tickets is accounting.
Andrew Taylor says
Thanks Trevor. Grateful for the feedback! I think we’re in the same sandbox about what sales is and does. Sounds like I didn’t convey those aspects in the video. I mean ALL of the work that surrounds and encourages that exchange. Or are you suggesting the word “sales” isn’t the best way to frame that function?
Trevor O'Donnell says
That’s a big sandbox, Andrew.
Sales in the nonprofit arts – as your definition suggests – is usually a passive process that deals with the mechanics of satisfying existing demand. But these mechanics are the operational end result of what should be a much more important process.
Sales is a proactive, outbound, persuasive process where salespeople discover and respond to external realities through direct human interaction. It’s the human-to-human motivating behavior that should be the core of the definition because the emphasis must be on *selling* things.
I just did some checking and found that while standard dictionary definitions of sales look pretty similar to yours, the Business Dictionary defines sales a bit differently: “The activity or business of selling products or services.” I like this definition because it turns the static noun ‘sales’ into an active verb.
If sales are down throughout the sector, wouldn’t it make sense to put a little more emphasis on selling?
Andrew Taylor says
Fabulous. And agreed! Really useful insights for when I make the video about the sales function. Thanks!