As some of you may or may not know, I've been studying Arts Administration & Cultural Management at Humber College in Toronto. It's a full-time, post-grad program. Going back to school as a mature student comes with many challenges, but I'm confident that I've made the right choice with this program. I'm excited for some new worlds and opportunities to be opened up to me. The first semester comes to an end this week. I can't believe how quickly it flew by. The final assignment for the Introduction to Arts Management class was to complete a course learning portfolio in lieu of an exam, in any format that we liked, as long as we addressed a series a questions provided by our instructor. I decided to submit this as a blog post, that way I could share a bit of what I've been up to with you. (I'm looking forward to winter break catch ups with those of you I've only seen sporadically since September!).
1. Which of the intended outcomes were of most interest to me in this course, to what extent did I achieve them, and which were most challenging?
· Develop a historical perspective with regard to the development and impact of artistic activity in Canada.
· Develop a wide range of basic administrative skills pertaining to human resources management, facilities management, organizational structure and internal relations and financial management.
This class was a primer for all of our other classes. I had a good foundation of arts knowledge before entering this program, but looking deeper into the history of the arts in Canada and why things are the way they are now was useful for me. As a "future arts leader" (as our Cultural Policy instructors would say) it's important to know where the industry is coming from, and to learn from successes and failures if I plan to make change in the future.
The most challenging part of this class was the curriculum-linked arts education activity. Our assignment was to create a teacher's guide for an arts activity for a specific grade from K-8. I believe that arts education for everyone is important and that it is a way to change people's perceptions about the arts. I feel that by running this blog I am providing arts education and advocacy in a small way and am bringing awareness to my readers.
It's been a while since I was in grade school, and I don't have kids, so beyond what my friends with kids tell me and the major news stories, I fully admit to paying very little attention to the Ministry of Education's curriculum for grades K-8. I got a crash course in arts education for younger learners and found a lot of community organizations that are doing important work with schools and youth.
2. What have I learned about arts management that has been unexpected or surprising?
As I do have some current non-profit arts experience and am aware of the challenges that those who work in the arts face, there wasn't anything that was unexpected or surprising. I have become more aware of how political changes affect the industry and now I look at arts news under the lens of how the story relates to cultural policy.
3. What has been my most valuable learning experience in this course, and why is that?
I learned a lot from completing the 32 volunteer hours that were required for this class, (even from the one volunteer experience that didn't turn out quite as planned). Through volunteering I received organization specific training, a chance to network with industry professionals, had in-person meetings with people I'd been corresponding with over email for months, and got behind the scenes access to events. One of the events I volunteered at I'd attended before as a visitor and it was interesting to go back and see it from a different point of view. I also enjoyed the many guest speakers we had. It's heartening to know that there are A LOT arts administrators and arts managers out there and a lot of different career options. The path is kind of like a choose your own adventure. Great news for someone like me whose path to arts administration has been non-linear and later in life.
4. What have been my best learning strategies in this course – e.g. around time management, research skills, team work, leading or managing, or other examples derived from previous program experience?
There was quite a bit of group work spread over the six classes. (You don't want to see my Inbox right now. SO MANY shared Google docs). It was a good way to get to know fellow classmates and learn from others who had different experience and skills sets from me. Everyone has different commitments and availability, so at times it could be a challenge to arrange meetings. I learned that for me it was best to see who is good at what or who wants to learn more about something, delegate the tasks evenly and then have progress reports via online chats, or email. In-person meetings were held to rehearse the presentation, and in the case of longer term assignments, weekly meetings were held.
For assignments where we chose our topic and presentation dates, I thought choosing a date later in the term would be better, but everything really piles up all at once, so next term, I plan to choose earlier presentation dates to get it out of the way sooner.
5. How does this course fit in with the rest of my experience in the program and the larger framework of my learning?
There was a lot of cross over between classes and I viewed this class as a jumping off point.
6. What remains for me to investigate about arts management, and how do I intend to pursue these areas for the rest of the program?
I haven't yet decided what path I want to pursue in this arts management journey. I have many interests and may end up doing a lot of different things. Areas I want to investigate more include arts advocacy, and inclusion in the arts. "Diversity" seems to be a buzz word used widely in all organizations, without any real explanation of what that involves and how the organization intends to fulfill the diversity measures. Diversity often means tokenism, which doesn't really help anyone. I feel that working on inclusion is more specific and actionable. I intend to pursue these areas by looking to people that are already doing the work, going to events and networking, and doing my own research outside of class time. Ideally I would love to secure work placements with organizations that are doing or have done this work. One of my first actions is to complete an Accessible Design in Digital Media Course offered by Humber College.
I’m ready for semester two! (After a much needed winter break, of course).
Thanks for reading!
Story by Glodeane Brown