Sherri Helwig Profile picture
Jul 18, 2019 44 tweets 20 min read
(01/42) Glad to be a part of #HCTwitterConf19 today! Hi, I'm Sherri Helwig - @CanadianAAAE President, faculty at the University of Toronto Scarborough @UTSC @UofT and Queen's University @queensu - here to expound a bit about better connecting academia and practice in my field.
(02/42) My field is arts management (aka arts admin, cultural mgt, etc.), a relatively young area of study about work that was "professionalized" only in the last 3/4 century or so - though I suspect and hope the ideas here are relevant and applicable in many areas of #HigherEd.
(03/42) In other professional disciplines (#law, #medicine) there is a rich tradition of sharing innovations across the divide. In #business there are academic journals, practice-based materials, & important resources that span them like The Harvard Business Review @HarvardBiz.
(04/42) With @HarvardBiz, lessons are often easily transferable to many companies & most products. In arts mgt, though, we tend to care deeply about & focus on our own "product" categories (theatre, visual art, dance, music, museums, etc. etc. etc.) to the exclusion of others.
(05/42) We don't often open ourselves up to learning across the disciplines - and when we do (in some arts mgt #HigherEd programs, for example), there is a concern that we may be focusing too much, or not enough, on one area or another, or teaching too generally to be beneficial.
(06/42) Sometimes it really does matter that learning is discipline-specific (e.g. how house size factors into budgeting in some #performingarts), but sometimes it's not. Knowing which is the case key - and often only comes from broad experience & learning across the disciplines.
(07/42) I've learned much from discussions across the arts, & across the not-for-profit #NonProfit sector, too - it was eye-opening to be the sole arts & culture rep for a national voluntary sector initiative [VolNet] 20 years ago, through what was then Industry Canada @ISED_CA.
(08/42) There is much to learn across the arts disciplines (and beyond) when learning about arts management - there is often more that unites us than divides us. #HCTwitterConf19
(09/42) But ... there are only so many hours in the workday for overworked and underresourced arts workers and academics, and only so many professional development #ProfDev dollars available (if any at all). So we focus in. And specialize in narrower and narrower areas.
(10/42) As well, in large-area countries like Canada, we often get together in person only locally/regionally - bc that's all time and $ allow - or we save up several years' worth of #ProfDev funds to participate in nt'l or int'l conversations (and thus miss out on some).
(11/42) BUT there are things we might do to begin to address these challenges. Some are more long-term and ambitious, but others are more easily scalable. For example:
(12/42) Many arts mgt educators are already creating and using case studies for the classroom (see @Yale's directory…, and @AAAEducator's guides for @WallaceFdn's audience dev research…, etc.]. I would advocate for one step further:
(13/42) ... that #ProfDev study groups around case studies be convened, bringing learners of ALL kinds together in person/online - perhaps co-facilitated by a practitioner and an academic (to manage learning objectives, language, tone etc. for different audiences & purposes).
(14/42) I would love to see this happen (also) at conferences - academic confs that welcome practitioners, & arts industry confs that welcome profs. There are (few) examples, but all could be more creative about inclusion (beyond booth$) & cont'd engagement (when locales change).
(15/42) This could also include regular roundtables – bringing people together to discuss issues of interest: e.g. @canartca's "Hard Lessons" article by @leahsandals that sparked great discussion with my students last year, & deserved wider conversation…
(16/42) ... or the Metcalf Foundation @metcalf_ca's arts-related Innovation Fellowship papers… (or articles that are a part of its recent collaboration with The Philanthropist @Phil_Journal re: arts & culture philanthropy in Canada…).
(17/42) This may mean removing paywalls/restrictions, for at least some things (for members- or subscribers-only material, or for what one requires a uni library card to access) - but perhaps the value of greater reach & broader/shared understanding can be calculated (& funded)?
(18/42) Arts managers could write up ideas and lessons learned from their projects/policies/practices - not just for internal documents or in final reports to granters, but for public consumption, so others can learn from them ...
(19/42) ... and scholars could post project outlines, works in process, or full projects/papers (depending upon grant requirements & what their uni will accept for promotion, tenure, & merit pay decisions?), on a free, #openaccess system like @humcommons
(20/42) ... (or on a partner site, or a mirror site, or with only URLs (aliases?) on the @humcommons site which link to data/documents hosted at home, as some individuals & orgs have privacy or copyright concerns or funding restrictions re: data being housed in another country).
(21/42) So, why would people in arts management contribute to #openaccess scholarship? There are several ideas that range from the bureaucratic to the personal and creative. The more formal ideas tend to focus on mandating participation, which is a hard sell in the arts.
(22/42) Discussions about some kind of professional certification for arts managers arise (and fall!) with some regularity; there was a feasibility study (to which I contributed) almost 15 years ago organized by @CulturalHRC, and conversations continue to circle back.
(23/42) For now, there are accreditation processes available to arts (and other) #NonProfit / #charitable organizations through, for example, @ImagineCanada's Standards Program…. This is a _welcome_ initiative, though it is for orgs only, not individuals.
(24/42) There are also @AAAEducators' arts management curriculum standards, which were vetted by (primarily US) educators & practitioners, available for academic programs & institutions…. An individual might consult these, but this would be "off-label use".
@AAAEducators (25/42) Given the high turnover across the arts sector and the #GigEconomy that is caused, or at least advanced, by the prevalence of project-only funding [oversimplification acknowledged], how can we ensure that knowledge is transferable & does not reside just in the org?
(26/42) It seems important for individual arts managers to be able to demonstrate that they are/remain "fit to practice". Other professionals require recertification, revalidation, or are otherwise appraised individually against professional standards.
(27/42) In the UK, for example, medical doctors are evaluated annually based on: evidence from the previous year of #ProfDev, lessons learned from practice, research, feedback from patients & colleagues, & personal development goals for the coming year. []
(28/42) Likewise, lawyers (in Ontario) must "meet standards of professional competence" (Law Society Act, 1990), & are required to undertake regular #ProfDev activities which include workshops, study groups, writing articles/books, supervising field placements, and mentoring.
(29/42) So, why would people in arts management contribute to open access scholarship? There are several ideas that range from the bureaucratic to the personal and creative. The more formal ideas tend to focus on requiring participation, which tends to be a hard sell in the arts.
(30/42) Arts orgs allowing adequate time & $ for #ProfDev is/would be a good start, but encouraging regular reflection, & evaluating the applicability & results of those initiatives at annual review time, is just as important. This is not a regular practice in many arts orgs now.
(31/42) At interviews, arts orgs could also go beyond the customary "what would you do if" situational ?s and - borrowing from #medicine & #law again - ask WHY a certain strategy was chosen, what the downsides ("side effects") would be, and why other strategies were rejected.
(32/42) #ProfDev is often looked at as a way to keep /skills/ fresh, but updating /knowledge/ and keeping abreast of changing issues/trends & innovations in and across the field is equally important (though admittedly more difficult to quantify and justify with limited time & $).
(33/42) Technology is helping to address this need in some sectors: in #medicine, for example, a US service called @UpToDate not only posts new evidence after publication and review, its own peer review process adds practical info re: applying these new findings clinically.
(34/42) I can imagine something like this (on a far smaller scale) for arts mgt journals & arts industry mags: bringing practitioners & educators/researchers together to connect ideas, consider one another's perspectives - thus explicitly & actively bridging theory and practice.
(35/42) At the risk of endorsing even more precarious work in the arts: arts orgs might also borrow from #medicine & the idea of learning more about a new area/specialty by creating (and finding funds for) short-term "clinical assistant"-type positions on the management side.
(36/42) As I wrote back in 2016: "As rich and vibrant as the arts community in this country [Canada] is, there can also be a shortage of opportunities", primarily between the junior and the senior-most levels.
(37/42) "These opportunities would allow for well-supported development of necessary leadership knowledge, skills and experience, and for proper succession planning."…
(38/42) Creating these as regular positions is impt. An interim step could be to find a sponsor & pilot the idea - then robustly evaluate & share the lessons widely. I am confident the arguments for these positions as necessary for the health & growth of the sector will be clear.
(39/42) There has been some recognition of the existing divisions between academia and practice in the arts over the years, and some limited movement toward addressing the problem.
(40/42) For example, the Canadian Theatre Review @CanTheatreRev accepts submissions from both scholars & practitioners When it publishes something theatre mgt-related that is also more generally relevant, though, others wouldn't think to search there.
(41/42) As well, some academic organizations (such as @AAAEducators) invite insightful arts industry leaders to participate in their annual conferences, but because the conference locations understandably change each year, the connections are often fleeting.
(42/42) The benefits of a better connection between #HigherEd & the arts are many. Connections need to be authentic, too, not just transactional (arts leaders speaking in the classroom, students interning at arts orgs, etc.). My conclusion, from…:
Thanks so much for spending some time with me at the #HCTwitterConf19. Please feel free to add comments or ask questions by replying here (until 4:40 PM EST on 7/18 when my scheduled presentation time is up), or follow up via DM if you wish. /end
Hi @threadreaderapp - please unroll this thread, if you would be so kind! :)

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Sherri Helwig

Sherri Helwig Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!