Feature of the Week

March 31, 2014 12:00 am

Lessons in the business of art management

D4WT5E People admiring Eros and psyche statue at Louvre Museum Paris France©Alamy

Psyche revived by Cupid's kiss by Antonio Canova at the Louvre Museum, Paris

A theatre bears little resemblance to an art gallery, museum or auction house. Yet many institutions offering degrees in arts management focus disproportionately on the performing arts and neglect students seeking to manage curated works of art in a museum or auction-house context.

In France, however, at least two schools are trying to redress that balance: Neoma Business School, based in Rouen and Reims, and Audencia Nantes School of Management.

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What is on offer?
The newest kid on the block is Neoma’s Master of Science in Arts Management, launched in September. “There’s a trend in society about art. There’s increased interest,” says Joëlle Lagier, the programme head.

Prof Lagier decided to launch the programme after running electives on cultural marketing and arts markets. The masters programme is taught only in English. “We wanted it to be in English because arts management is international,” says Prof Lagier.

The programme’s modules include international law of art, asset management and investment in the art market, an auction simulation and managing the historical heritage. The final semester is spent writing a thesis and includes an internship option.

Meanwhile, at Audencia students on the Master in Management programme – part of the French Grandes Ecoles system – can specialise in cultural institution management.

“About 10 years ago we saw that grants decreased in France and realised that managers and curators would have to develop their own resources and be more focused on their audience,” says Laurent Noël, former director of the programme and head of Audencia’s artistic incubator project.

Tuition on the programme is in English and French. Students study at Audencia for a term and cover compulsory topics such as accountancy and economics as well as modules that cover the art market, arts industries and cultural institutions. In the second semester students either go to London to Sotheby’s Institute of Art or to Bilbao in Spain to the University of Deusto, which has ties to the Guggenheim Museum. Students also spend time in the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

Aspects of the courses
Audencia is particularly proud of its collaboration with the Ecole du Louvre. Students from Audencia learn about art history and museum studies at the Louvre and students from Ecole du Louvre attend business classes at Audencia.

“Now, in the same classroom, we have students with a background in art history and students with a background in management,” says Prof Noël.

The collaboration is only in its second year but Prof Noël expects it to deepen in time. About five employees at the Louvre museum are graduates of Audencia.

Meanwhile Neoma offers an auction simulation, a module taught by Alain Renner, former vice-president of Sotheby’s France, which requires students to work from a catalogue and sell items to class members. Alongside the students who have gained internships in galleries in Paris, others have applied to Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses.

Neoma students also deal with real-life projects and this year are organising an exhibition by a Chinese painter and tackling all aspects of shipping the paintings, including insurance, storage, marketing and promotion.

Looking ahead
Prof Noël and Prof Lagier believe the field of arts management is changing rapidly. Prof Noël points out that until recently those eager to work in museums would train either as a curator or as a manager. As a consequence there were curators with no concept of how to manage their business and managers with no knowledge of their product.

“As a manager you have to have artistic skills,” he says. “And as a curator, if you are going to create an exhibition you have to know how an organisation works.”

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