“Communication” and “project planning and organization” rank first and second among the most important competencies called for by professional practice in the music sector. In this ranking from the new study “Music Career Check” (Bauer & Kastler 2023) by the University for Continuing Education Krems and mica – music austria, “instrumental/vocal virtuosity” ranks only ninth out of 17 competencies. 759 music professionals in Austria responded to this study’s survey on their professional realities and competencies as well as their experiences and needs in terms of education and training formats, and this study was by no means the first to identify a backlog of demand for business-related, legal, and technical know-how on the part of musicians, especially musicians working in the independent scene.

It is the declared goal of the IKM’s cultural management-related teaching and research offerings to facilitate the acquisition of such competencies—ideally during one’s studies or, at the latest, as part of postgraduate training. The point here is not only to further participants’ artistic endeavours but also to open up fields of activity in numerous other sectors as possible components of portfolio careers.

The IKM has been providing instruction in cultural management since 1975. It was teachers and students who developed what was originally a part-time course in cultural management, which was launched in 1976 and whose next iteration—as a Master of Continuing Education (MCE) programme that will entitle its graduates to pursue doctoral studies—is set to be launched in autumn 2023. The mdw was the first university in continental Europe to establish cultural management as an independent degree programme, and the professionalisation of our institution’s engagement with this topic has proceeded apace over the programme’s 45 years of existence. It now continues to build on the principles of mutual learning, collegial exchange, and an open culture of error. The evolved concept of cultural management is oriented toward individuals and their activities in front of, on, and behind cultural life’s various “stages”—and in this, it goes far beyond a narrow understanding of a theatre, opera house, or museum’s operational management. It is much rather about practices of communication, organisation, mediation, promotion, and funding, and quite frequently also about simply “making things possible”. The concept of culture that comes to bear is likewise multifaceted, ranging from artistic formats often associated with the realm of “high culture” to numerous cultural activities whose common denominator lies in their symbolic production as well as in encounters between—and sometimes even the merging of—producers, recipients, and mediators.

The individuals addressed by the IKM’s offerings range from present and future administrators and employees of traditional cultural institutions to music professionals and mediators from the independent scene and on to individual artists who both desire to and indeed must manage themselves or individual projects. According to the “Music Career Check”, freelance musicians’ self-management activities take up an average of 13.6 hours per week. The precarious social situation of many individuals working in the cultural sector is both a context-defining factor and a topic of research, here. The abovementioned study’s range of participants (representing all profiles of activity and employment) work an average of 44 hours per week, quite commonly in portfolio careers that include multiple artistic and non-artistic income-generating components, and they also engage in volunteer—and hence unpaid—work.

Against this backdrop, it is recognition and knowledge of as well as critical reflection upon structures and practices in the cultural sector that make it possible in the first place to develop solutions that counter discrimination and abuses of power as early as one’s studies, thereby also contributing constructively to how the cultural sector will look in the future. Fair pay, sustainability, digitisation, and open cultures of working and learning are just as much topics of cultural management as are changing career profiles, cultural entrepreneurship, and the always-delicate question of what aspects of the cultural sector should actually be measured and how this should be done. Moreover, the urgent question of the “disappearing” audience is a further one to which cultural management research is currently expected to provide answers.

Learning, reflecting upon, and driving forward the development of tools and methods with which to answer such questions hence belong just as much to the endeavour of cultural management as does the ability to engage at eye level with stakeholders from the arts and culture as well as from politics and the business world thanks to one’s familiarity with the relevant concepts and terminology. The intent is therefore to provide the best possible support to individuals seeking to do justice to these admittedly great requirements by way of the various forms of cultural management coursework offered at the mdw, in full awareness of the scarce time provided by our institution’s curricula.

Source: Bauer, Eva-Maria & Kastler, Ulrike (2023): Music Career Check – Berufsbilder und Kompetenzen. Empirische Erhebung der Universität für Weiterbildung Krems in Kooperation mit mica – music austria, Krems. (Project report at: www.donau-uni.ac.at/dam/jcr:d0733230-4533-41e6-bea8-d7c4e3b9acf2/Music-Career-Check_Langfassung.pdf)

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