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Arts Administration and Policy: Management Studio

Management Studio

The three-semester Management Studio curriculum integrates pedagogy and methods of professional practice from disciplines such as environmental studies; architecture and design; improvisation studies; policy; leadership and management; and wellness. The curriculum is predicated on a deep exploration of collaboration and is intended to be in continuous dialog with the existing areas of department inquiry and beyond. The curriculum animates and extends SAIC’s Core Values (, 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 remain part of an engaged alumni network.

MAAAP department faculty members develop Management Studio projects in collaboration with partners across Chicago and beyond. Projects have led to employment and paid internships, and have shaped thesis research projects. Management Studio classes intersect with and leverage other core curriculum coursework to create a continuous investigation of the theory/practice dialectic. Management Studio classes explore artistic practice methodologies as a resource for creative arts administration.

The class sessions include lecture, discussion, workshops and project work. The students self-select into project teams of three-six students based on interest and skill building opportunity. The teams negotiate and design their own structure and work with their external partners to determine and contract project deliverables. The curriculum creates opportunities for students to gain and practice general skills and tools across the field of arts administration, as well as the chance to develop more specialized skills in areas of personal professional interest. 

Management Studio I (Year one, Fall semester) focuses primarily on systems of organizing culture and associated social systems (organizations, networks, ecosystems) 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. Starting with the so-called big picture positions students to learn to think politically and strategically about systems and how they function and change. 

Management Studio II (Year one, Spring semester) invites students to move towards focused skill building through workshops in areas such as fundraising and development, data strategy, technology, evaluation, and communication. Workshops often include guest facilitators with particular areas of expertise, offering students an opportunity to build valuable relationships and leverage knowledge networks. Students work in their project teams during these sessions and use the projects as case studies.

Management Studio III invites second and third year graduate 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, 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.  

Featured Projects

Northern Triangle Exhibition (Spring 2016)

In 2014, more than 68,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended on the U.S./Mexico border, double the number from the previous year. Of this group, the majority are from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Known as the Northern Triangle, this region has a long and complicated relationship with the United States. Originally commissioned by Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum (Austin, TX), Northern Triangle is an exhibition created by Borderland Collective that opens a space for constructive dialogue and exchange around the current Central American refugee crisis along the U.S./Mexico border and the long and complicated history of U.S. intervention in which it is irrevocably entangled. (Curatorial notes)

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Rock and the Bean (Fall 2015)

Rock and the Bean was a work in progress installation of salvaged historic raw limestone rocks from the shoreline of the South Side of Chicago. Conceptualized as part of a forthcoming pavilion on Montrose Beach designed by Dutch-Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi/NLE, the "pop up" installation was part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015 and displayed and activated next to Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (affectionately called "the bean"). The project was a collaboration between the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and NLE.

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Homan Square Story Share - Collaboration with SAIC (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

The Homan Square Story Share project is a partnership with Continuing Studies and the Shapiro Center for Collaboration to collect and archive stories in the Homan Square neighborhood.  The project seeks to connect SAIC to the North Lawndale community through listening.

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Cosmosis - Collaboration with Steven Bridges and the Hyde Park Art Center (Fall 2014-Spring 2015)

Curated by Steven Bridges for the Hyde Park Art Center and Contemporary Arts Council, Cosmosis investigated how the cosmos and the field of Cosmology continue to inspire artistic production and exert influence on human understanding of the universe—and our place therein.

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Around Center - Collaboration with Jan Tichy and the Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Cultural Center (Fall 2013-Spring 2014)

Combining photography, sculpture and video projection with civic engagement, Jan Tichy’s work reveals contradictions and hidden truths in our lived environment and the larger cultural, social and political sphere. For aroundcenter, Tichy focused on the Chicago Cultural Center — formerly Chicago’s main public library, and now home to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events – where thousands of free cultural events happen annually.  

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