ArtsManaged: Origins of a Meme
Naming the energy and alchemy of making art work.
The intention of the ArtsManaged initiative is to foster a space to explore the planned/spontaneous magic of Arts Management, and to serve those on a journey to improve their practice.
The term “arts managed” was born in a joyful and mischievous faculty meeting at American University in the early 2010s. The four of us on the Arts Management Program full-time faculty then – Sherburne Laughlin, Ximena Varela, Anne L’Ecuyer, and me – were riffing on the beautiful absurdity of Arts Management, and the genuine gifts of practitioners who accomplish the impossible in seemingly invisible ways.
A bold vision and a brash creative impulse is suddenly realized against fantastic odds. And all but the arts managers in the room stand in curious and confused wonder.
“You’ve been arts managed,” said Anne at that meeting, capturing and coining a term that resonated deeply.
Since then, “arts managed” has become a credo, a hashtag, and a victory cry for our community of faculty, students, alumni, and peers. It invokes the alchemy of the arts manager’s work – coaxing and cajoling something imagined into something real. And it celebrates both the skill and the will that make that possible.
As Anne has defined the term:
It’s the hunch that this moment is both spontaneous and aligned. As though it was meticulously planned by professional teams tending to all the things. Elegant and efficient. Bubbly effervescence bound by boxcutter utilitarianism. Polite and pragmatic. Often planned chaos.
When you leave the gallery, theatre, park, or public square wondering, how did they do that? You’ve been #ArtsManaged.
The intention of the ArtsManaged initiative is to foster a space to explore that planned/spontaneous magic of Arts Management, and to serve those on a journey to improve their practice. It is a container and connecting place for an array of projects that advance that goal – so far including a weekly newsletter, an online and evolving textbook, a short video series, and Ximena Varela and team’s Gestoras podcast conversations with Latina arts managers from the north and from the south.
“Arts managed” is anchored in, but larger than, the American University Arts Management Program where Anne brought the meme into existence and our whole community celebrated it into life. This initiative seeks to serve that larger world of people and possibility.
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