“Best Practices in Arts Management Training:
Experience vs. Scholarship / Tradition vs. the Future”

Presentation with Alan Salzenstein 

Alan Salzenstein is an arts administrator, educator, theatrical producer, consultant and attorney. An Associate Professor at DePaul University in Chicago since 2003, he heads the Performing Arts Management Program in the School of Music and the MFA/Arts Leadership Program in The Theatre School. For 20 years previous, Salzenstein was Executive Director for several Chicago-area arts organizations. Salzenstein has been a frequent guest speaker and moderator for various arts-related organizations, and holds board positions with the League of Chicago Theatres and the Association of Arts Administration Educators. Salzenstein is a member of the Bar of the State of Illinois, having received his Juris Doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology / Chicago Kent College of Law and his Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois.


Executive leadership in arts organizations does not result from a singular path. There exists a myriad of plausible routes that incorporate and balance experience, academics, opportunity, and good fortune. The acknowledgement that the arts management field is a distinct, sophisticated, professional industry has resulted in the proliferation of arts management academic programs worldwide. With this expanse comes an assortment of potential avenues -- some building on practices from the past, others forging into new territory. While uniformity is not the goal for a diverse field as arts management, there are lessons to be learned by the intersection between traditional models of arts management training and current academic endeavors.

As the field of arts management continues to mature, the need for a certain array of skills has emerged. While many “hard” skills are taught in academic settings, other, equally important, “soft” skills are only acquired through a more traditional and intensive work experience.  It is due to this reality that many current arts leaders do not always maintain the highest level of confidence in the academic training of potential arts managers. And as current topical issues of leadership succession and new business models take center stage, it is imperative to examine and evaluate the training of arts managers, in order to assure the best possible positioning of future leadership.

This presentation will analyze the benefits of traditional and historical paths of arts management training – primarily, internal organizational mentorship (“climbing the organizational ladder”); and the contemporary models of academic programs – curricula requirements and degree possibilities. Special attention to specific areas within arts administration (i.e., marketing, human resources, development) will be addressed in balancing the benefits of each training approach; and highlighting the potential success of an integrated approach. Focusing on the intersection between the historical and current approaches, this presentation seeks to address the conference theme (Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity) through the lens of arts management training.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"