We know Arts Administration is a creative practice, so we work and learn with a studio mindset:
The three-semester Management Studio curriculum is a project-based series of leadership and management courses designed to give Arts Administration graduate students an immersive studio-like learning experience. In addition to lectures, discussions, and workshops, students work in teams on real projects with partners from the professional creative sector in Chicago and beyond. The curriculum design integrates pedagogy and methods of professional practice from disciplines such as environmental studies; architecture and design; improvisation studies; policy; leadership and management; and wellbeing. The curriculum is predicated on a deep exploration of collaboration and is intended to be in continuous dialog with existing areas of department inquiry and beyond. The curriculum animates and extends SAIC’s Core Values (www.saic.edu/about/corevalues/#saic), particularly as a course based trans-disciplinary hub for exchange, learning, and action. It is also a goal for course work to support opportunities for students to find satisfying employment after school and to participate in our highly engaged alumni network.
Management Studio I focuses primarily on systems of organizing culture (for example, organizations, policy and networks) and some of the major issues facing leaders in the arts. The projects, readings and discussions reflect the complexity of this activity in different ways. For example, some projects include multiple partners across the city while others might focus on start-up concepts requiring broad market research, or investigate larger institutional and policy questions such as advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts. This core course invites student to think broadly and deeply about frameworks for learning to think politically and strategically about organizing culture.
Management Studio II focuses on skill building through workshops in areas such as strategy development, fundraising, data, technology, evaluation, collaboration, project budgets, and communication strategy. Workshops include guest facilitators with particular areas of expertise, offering students an opportunity to build valuable relationships and leverage knowledge networks.
Management Studio III invites second year students to develop and produce their own projects, particularly those connected to thesis research. In addition to a mentored environment for project development, the course explores advanced management skills in leadership transition, change management, legal issues such as intellectual property and contracting, developing multi-organizational collaborations, conflict negotiation, and human resource issues. Students also focus on practicing specific professional development skills in portfolio development and job search planning.
Our project partners have included: Chicago Cultural Center; Chicago Cultural Alliance; Homan Square Foundation; Lyric Opera; 3Walls; Chicago Dancemakers Forum; South East Chicago Commission; Hyde Park Art Center; Art Together; Chicago Architecture Biennial; Experimental Sound Studio; Chicago Artist Coalition; Borderland Collective; Chicago Reuse Exchange; the Highline Network; Chicago Park District; Bosch Corporation and more.
What students say about their experiences working on Management Studio projects:
“One of the main reasons why I came to SAIC was because of the practical training that the SAIC MAAA&P program offers. Management Studio I and II created the opportunity for me to work with Chicago Cultural Alliance and their project Inherit Chicago, a city-wide festival of arts, crafts, performance and food related to the diverse cultural heritage of the city of Chicago. This organization, with circa 40 member institutions all around Chicago and the surrounding areas, allowed me to get deeply involved in the local cultural ecology and its social impact, while providing a space to test and improve my managing skills and acquiring new ones. As a South American student, Inherit Chicago became a gate for me to better understand the rich cauldron of Chicago's cultural panorama and how it speaks to a larger international community.” Carlos Salazar Lermont, Dual Degree Class of 2019
“I think the biggest thing I tell people about Arts Administration and Policy at SAIC is about Management Studio. It really requires you to go out and meet people and forces you to think about your ideas in a very professional and realistic manner.” Taykhoom Biviji, Class of 2018
“Working on the Homan Square Story Share project in Management Studio allowed me to put the methods and theories we were learning in the classroom into practice. The project became a case-study to work from and learn from as I evolved through the program, and has continued to significantly impact my approach to arts administration and community engagement long after the project was completed.” Raquel Iglesias, Class of 2016
“We did a lot of experiments—failing or asking questions. Doing some unfinished projects. All of those experiences helped me get to my thesis and later to find my interests.” Kimia Maleki, Class of 2016
“Right at the start of my studies at SAIC, the Management Studio curriculum provided me with the artistic agency and real-time constraints to thoughtfully produce public programs for projects happening across Chicago. I chose to work on projects that would allow me to develop a curatorial voice and portfolio, the most fruitful of which was the Borderland Collective's exhibition Northern Triangle. My colleagues and I collaborated to initiate a series of workshops, tours, and programs that culminated in a night of performances by current MFA students. This final program in particular ignited my curatorial and scholarly interest in performance practices, which guided much of my subsequent graduate studies and thesis work. Without the excitement and accountability the Management Studio projects provided, I would not have solidified the interests that made my time at SAIC so productive, intentional, and hungry for what's next.” Jameson Paige, Dual Class of 2018
“The Chicago Voices project was my first taste of working collaboratively with a large organization to realize a project that had to weave together history, site specificity, community, curatorial practice, and complex legibility. To do that in the very first semester was a challenge, of course, but also eye opening about the many facets of arts administration.” Adia Skyes, Class of 2018