The Art of Managing Your Art
It’s the performance season and you’ve been working hard on your routine all year long, in the run up to it. You have your performance in your finger-tips, to deliver a show that you hope would remain memorable enough to go down in history. And yet, you find yourself having to double up with all the nitty-gritties that can smoothen out the creases for your performance. It’s no doubt, then, that you wind up being the production manager, marketer, stage designer, financial manager and PR Executive. In terms of easing-up demands on a performer, the domain of arts management offers tremendous potential.
Management Challenges That Artistes Face
Across the realm of performing arts, there are very real challenges. Carving a niche, making one’s artistic presence felt, building and managing audiences, marketing and outreach, fund-raising, financial management and evolving cohesive, symbiotic and collaborative partnerships are only among a few. For an artiste to handle all of this while nurturing his or her own journey, can be overwhelming, and can go so far as to impinge on the delivery of the art form in itself.
For years now artistes have had several of these challenges. However the burgeoning trend of increased connectivity and ever-changing audience preferences in today’s world, have only exacerbated these challenges.
For instance an individual sitting on a social media platform finds information of any sort vying for her attention: and so, you find a musician competing with a sportsperson, a soft-drink brand, an author, a social cause, a politician and a bunch of cute cats pretending not to care while being filmed. The randomness of the mix of information available to every audience today creates a dilemma of how one can stay relevant. Also, constantly changing preferences of the user makes it more challenging for artistes in engaging them. A planned approach towards building audiences through strategic communication and marketing becomes imperative to sustain the existing audience and build new ones.
If the world could run on the arts alone, we’d probably see the rise of a very culturally attuned world. Unfortunately it doesn’t. And this throws up another, but equally demanding challenge, of financial management and sustainability. In many cases artistes raise funds for specific productions or initiatives and the funds are used for creating the artistic works, leaving very little for the support functions. This results in limited or unskilled resources being utilized for administrative functions thereby affecting the management and presentation of the artistic initiative. Hence the lack of a sustained approach to fundraising makes it a challenge to manage artistic initiatives professionally and sooner or later begins to affect the artistic programming as well.
Similarly there are several other areas such as public relations, fundraising, program development, production management etc., that artistes need short-term and long-term support.
The Role of an Arts Manager:
Plugging this gap in an artiste’s journey by leaving it to an expert in the domain of arts management, can ease up one’s journey as a performer. The job of an arts manager is all about facilitating the role of an artiste, by handling the business dimension – the everyday operations, building and sustaining the audience, and curating an experiential tangent to your performance that allows artistes to focus on their art alone.
However, finding the right kind of arts management support is much like finding a pair of shoes that fit. Only the wearer knows where it pinches, and where the sweet spot lies. It is vital to understand that the relationship between the artiste and an arts manager is a symbiotic one. An arts manager should believe in the artist’s craft, enough to be a staunch supporter, not one to hijack the creative process. Artistes nevertheless should develop enough business acumen to understand and question the manager’s decisions at the critical moment, not one to hijack their way of handling the overall priorities.
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Kirthi Jaykumar Writer & Artist
Ramya Rajaraman Founder & Director, ArtSpire