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7AAIAM02 Cultural Management: The Experience

Module convenor: Dr Kate McMillan
Credits: 20
Teaching pattern: Ten four-hour integrated lectures and seminar/workshops

Module description:

The knowledge and skills required to manage arts and culture cannot be gained solely from reading a textbook (however good it is). Cultural management is learned ‘on the job’; it is emergent, lived and ‘experienced’ on a day-to-day basis.  In this module students will have the unprecedented opportunity of engaging with a diverse group of leading arts and cultural organisations and senior arts and cultural managers, to hear first-hand how they deal with the everyday tensions involved in cultural management in the 21st century. Students will be introduced to a wide spectrum of practice, process, skills-based and theoretical issues, (either on-site or on-campus) led by practitioners working in London-based leading arts and cultural organisations. 

Each session will also include guided discussion, informed by critical and cutting edge theory, relating to the topic of the week. 

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Explore the reality of being a cultural manager, through exposure to the manager’s world;
  • Encourage the development of procedural knowledge relating to the role of the cultural manager, across a variety of cultural organisations and contexts;
  • Investigate the critical success factors for arts and cultural organisations as they seek to create value (aesthetic, artistic, economic, social etc.) for current and future stakeholders;
  • Provide a learning experience that enables students to make connections between theory and practice, and to critically assess the values necessary for effective cultural management today.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 7 module and in particular will be able to:

  • Competently assess the nature of the cultural management role (its tactical, logistical and strategic demands), and how this is lived out on an everyday basis.
  • Critically evaluate the practices, skills and behaviours required by the arts and cultural manager, and the extent to which these are contingent upon specific cultural context.
  • Undertake analysis of the inherent tensions involved in managing arts and cultural organizations, given competing motivations and interests, and how these are managed in practice.
  • Question the variety of knowledge, skills and values required by cultural managers and their organisations, and reflect on the extent to which these (adequately) inform society’s approach to education, training and financial support in the cultural sector.

Core reading

  • Becker, H.S. (2008) Art worlds, University of California Press: London.
  • Brindle, Meg and DeVereaux (2011) The Arts Management Handbook: New Directions for Students and Practitioners, M.E. Sharpe.
  • Caves, R. E. (2000) Creative industries: Contracts between art and commerce, Harvard University Press: Boston.
  • Jeffcutt, P & Pratt, A. (2002) ‘Managing Creativity in the Cultural Industries’ Creativity and Innovation Management  Vol 11 No 4, pp225-233.
  • Smiers, J. (2003) Arts Under Pressure: Promoting Cultural Diversity in the Age of Globalization. Zed
  • Thomas, D.C. and Peterson, M.F. (2014) Cross-Cultural Management: Essential Concepts. Sage
  • Walmsley, Ben (2011) Key issues in the Arts & entertainment industry, Goodfellow Publishers Ltd.


1 x 4,000 word essay (100%)

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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