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Arts Administration and Policy: Department Projects

emerge: journal of arts administration and policy

e-merge is an online journal produced by graduate students in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Master of Arts Administration and Policy program, featuring collaborations with guest editors from the SAIC community. It features original, pioneering theory and practice in the field of arts administration and related domains. We seek to engage with issues related to arts administration as a professional practice in order to broaden the overall scope of discourse.


The online-only publication also allows us to continue refining and evolving our structure. This mutability is well suited to a publication run entirely by graduate students-a community that faces a complete renewal every two years. We look forward to seeing and sharing the continued evolution of emerge with our audience.

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image credit: Jiafang Yao, MDes in Fashion, Body, Garment 2017

Flexible Art Worlds explored the various interests and systems that animate art worlds. 

Those who create and operate arts organizations—and participate in the work of arts institutions—shape how a significant part of culture is sustained and made public. By articulating and enacting missions, programs, and policies, cultural workers advance rationales that advocate for and work in chorus with artists’ production, presentation, and dialogue. These activities are driven by multiple interests, embedded in art world, political, popular, economic, and academic discourses, and enacted variously at local, national, and global scale. Drawing on contemporary examples, and engaging students’ interests, this intensive course strives to lay out a foundation on which to assess several positions currently active in cultural networks. As an online publication and blog, Flexible Art Worlds vol 1, issue 2, shares a sample of the collective learning and research that this summer's group of students has begun. 

Flexible Art Worlds vol 1



First Year class project: Hot Topics

Each Fall semester, students in the Arts Organizations in Society and Management Studio 1 classes work in teams to research topics which represent important and controversial themes in the contemporary cultural landscape. The assignment notes that topics should "be something which has a lot of angles or aspects, and which opens out to larger questions about cultural policy, institutional trends, the political climate, management and leadership structure, etc." Teams present their findings in a day-long series of presentations, followed by a discussion in which we identify threads of continuity, intersection and resonance among the topics.


In 2017, the themes were:

  • -- Decolonizing objects: Sam Durant's "Scaffold," Dana Schutz's "Open Casket." Controversies surrounding the presentation of these works, and leadership strategies in response
  • -- Accountability to publics, funders, staff and others in social practice: Theaster Gates and Rebuild Foundation
  • -- Documenta 14: Trying to "learn from Athens," but what went wrong?
  • -- Urban displacement, and emergent thinking about culture's role in mitigating the problem: gentrification in Pilsen
  • -- Arts activism in the borderlands: projects at the US-Mexico border
  • -- Who gets to include or exclude?: Solange Knowles in Chicago and "white people this is not for you!" 

Here's the way we identified linking threads between these very challenging topics: