Management for Art Organizations


Why bothering with management when working with the arts? Management is not something «else than», or «up there», of «stranger to» artistic and creative work. It is connaturated to it. Management is essentially about «getting things done», in any field, even in the arts. But how? Four main functions constitute management: (a) planning (deciding what is to be done, determining objectives, recognizing the elements in the world around that may pose new opportunities or may be a threat): art organizations make decisions all the time, deciding new programs, assessing their feasibility, taking further decisions to implement them; this can take the form of neat and formal plans, or can be done informally and incrementally, but it is planning nonetheless; (b) organizing (getting the people, tasks and resources aligned to convert those plans and decisions into actions): this is essentially about managing people; (c) leading (influencing others’ behaviour to share commitment to what can be accomplished): this requires extra care in art organizations for the coexistence of multiple logics, primarily one guided by artistic and aesthetic values and the other one based on business and managerial values; leading requires a closer examination of value alignment among the people involved, and a cultivation and profound understanding of all sets of values involved; (d) controlling (monitoring how the work is proceeding, checking results and impacts against the goals, and taking corrective action, in case): this is largely about assessing the performance of art organizations which is utmost tricky and crucial, at the same time. Ultimately, success or failure of any creative work is ultimately related to how well it is managed. Without proper planning, good organization, creative leadership, and some control the chances for success are diminished.

Key Take-aways

What does management have to do with art organizations? Everything!

  •   Art organizations are, in the first place, organizations.
  •   As such, they are ensembles of individuals collaborating for a common, cultural purpose
  •   They are (and must be) driven by a cultural mission.
  •   But chances that the cultural mission is realized are higher with some dose of planning, good organization, creative leadership, and some control.

This is not something else from cultural work. It is how cultural work is done (and has always been done)


Maria Lusiani is Associate Professor of Business Administration and Accounting at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, where she directs the second-cycle degree in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities.

Her research deals with management and accounting practices in complex organizations, ranging from the arts field to the healthcare field, through qualitative research methodologies, including case studies, ethnography, historical analysis, discourse analysis and semi-automated content analysis. Her research has been published in Accounting History, Management and Organizational History, Long Range Planning, Journal of Management and Governance, Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society.

More Details

Further Information