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Regular version of the site

How To Become an Arts Manager

Pursuing a career as an arts manager requires a degree in fine arts or other related sphere. Here at HSE – St. Petersburg, we have a unique Master's programme in Arts and Culture Management which was specially designed to prepare students for work in the creative arts industry. During the programme students learn and hone competencies of an art manager, get an Italian master's degree, take a chance to work on real-life projects with iconic art institutions, get involved in a Research and Study group or project laboratories organised jointly with a world-famous luxury jewellery house – the Maison Cartier. In this interview, the academic director of the programme, Yulia Trabskaya, told us about the main features of the programme, its partnership with well-known art institutions, foreign campaigns, current projects, as well as revealed how to study in Italy for a year and shared the latest news for the 2022 intake.

Yulia Trabskaya, Academic Supervisor of the Programme

Yulia Trabskaya, Academic Supervisor of the Programme
Photo from Yulia Trabskaya’s personal archive

— Yulia, could you please tell us how the learning process is organised in the programme?

— Well, the programme places a special focus on practical work: our students attend courses held by art industry professionals, get involved in real-life projects and create their first portfolios with iconic cultural institutions – the Maison Cartier, the State Hermitage Museum, the Manege Central Exhibition Hall, Sevkabel Port, Tsarskoye Selo, the Faberge Museum.

Also, we want our students to start developing international contacts as soon as possible. To achieve this goal, the programme has a double degree track with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, which allows our students to spend the whole year in Italy and acquire potential work contacts. And for those wishing to launch an academic career we have a special Research and Study Group.

As for the main focus of this programme, I would say it is working on real-life projects with art institutions. Our students organise ‘off the shelf' events on the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre, make a festival in the State Hermitage Museum, work at the Salvador Dali exhibition at the Faberge Museum, promote Tsarskoye Selo among foreign visitors, as well as get the opportunity to create a tailored project for the Maison Cartier and interact directly with the top management of this jewellery house. This academic year, students travelled to Moscow to present the results of their work and got feedback directly from the CEO of Cartier.

Studying in a creative field is impossible without immersing yourself into the art context. We understand that as nobody else. To get some inspiration and create the necessary atmosphere we frequently visit museums, walk around the city, organise art brunches for the best students.

— You mentioned a double degree track, could you tell more about it? 

— Sure, the double degree track works this way: students enrolled in our programme upon graduation receive two diplomas at once: one from the Higher School of Economics and another from the Italian Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore). 

In Milan, they will study for a year at the Master's programme called 'Methods and Topics in Arts Management'. This is an unique opportunity not only to experience the Italian lifestyle, but also to see how the European art industry works from within: as future arts managers students study art-related disciplines and do an internship in the most famous museums in Italy, including visits to art institutions in Milan, Florence and other Italian cities. We regularly post the latest information regarding this track on our programme’s official webpage.

The main advantage of this double track is that students graduate with a vast knowledge of art industry management both in Russia and Italy, a country which sets the latest trends in the art industry. And of course, adding a European diploma to a CV allows building a career abroad and grants a substantial value in the labour market.

— What other opportunities do students have while studying?

— The main objective of the programme is to teach students how to independently manage business projects in the field of art, culture and creative industries. This is facilitated by the master's programme itself and the ecosystem of close cooperation with art industry representatives that has been formed around it. 

This ecosystem includes the Master's programme in Arts and Culture Management, joint projects with the Maison Cartier, as well as cooperation with our foreign partners and events involved in the double degree track – the Italian Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, events of the 'Festival in The Hermitage' programme and a CIBA event organised by students together with the New Stage Alexandrinsky Theatre. 

And there are other concepts included in the ecosystem as well. So the students can attend the Innovations in Art and Culture research and study group, as well as contact with programme partners: the State Hermitage Museum, the Faberge Museum, the Street Art Museum, and the Manege Central Exhibition Hall.

We are also launching a design and training laboratory called Consumer Behaviour Studies in Luxury Segment which is to be realised by HSE University together with the Maison Cartier. Well, as you can see our students can leverage various opportunities in the course of the training. By taking part in joint projects and laboratories future arts managers receive comprehensive knowledge and can decide which art projects are closer to their hearts from the first year of their studies.

— What courses are present on the programme? Are they all related to the art industry?

— As an arts manager you have to be a jack of all trades. To help our students acquire various skills and talents, we have included diverse subjects in the programme. There are very applied courses devoted to finance and legal environment in art and culture, as well as courses aimed at developing analytical skills and the ability to make decisions based on data. 

There is an annual course in the history and theory of the art. There are also specialised courses that prepare for the future profession, for example, about building partnerships and collaborations in the art industry.

And, of course, we do not skip economics. The programme being a part of the School of Economics and Management, our students study how economics and art are interrelated.

— And what about the teaching staff?

— We are incredibly proud of them all. There are three categories of our teaching staff: HSE-based professors, art industry experts and foreign teachers.

The programme includes a lot of courses taught by art industry professionals who are immersed in this environment and perfectly understand its nuances. Among them are the Deputy Director of the Faberge Museum Sofia Grigorieva, ex-project manager of the Skolkovo Foundation Maryam Karpova, Anna Tyrenko, a current employee of the State Hermitage Museum, Albina Motor, Waterfront project manager, and Natalia Belyakova, marketing director of the Italian holding Domina.

Apart from that, we understand that for arts students, understanding different cultures and contexts is a must. To help our students get that international experience from the first academic year, we have developed a course called 'Art Management in the context of the Modern Arts Institutions' taught by Chiara Paolino, professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The course is meant to develop strategic, project management and soft skills for arts and culture organisations.

— Can students get involved in both art projects and research?

— Yes, the programme allows students to prepare both for work in the art industry and for an academic career.

As I have mentioned before, from the first academic year students acquire hands-on skills by taking part in various projects. Working hand-in-hand with major art institutions in St. Petersburg they create solutions for real-life tasks. For example, our students are able to organise an archaeological festival in the halls of the Hermitage, advertise Tsarskoye Selo in the international market, go on expeditions to different cities of Russia, create events on the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre, work with Cartier, hold a strategic session with the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

Internship is also an important part of the programme. We take it very seriously and each time meticulously choose organisations and art institutions at which our students are supposed to do the internship. This helps them to develop skills in the field of curating, advertising, project management, event management, as well as to collect the necessary data for the thesis. For the upcoming 2022 academic year we have prepared the following internships: the study of the luxury segment in the hospitality industry, joint projects with start-ups, development of a strategy for promoting water communication in St. Petersburg, research and analysis of the interaction between a museum and a tour operator, and much more.

In such a creative city as Saint Petersburg there is no shortage of places to do an internship in the arts industry. There are museums, tour operators, cultural spaces, and hotels. Just to name some of them: Association of Private Museums of the Leningrad Region, State Russian Museum, Sevkabel Port, Tsarskoe Selo State Museum-Reserve, Domina Hotel St. Petersburg.

— Students with which educational background would you prefer to enrol on your programme: is it just management or do you consider other fields of study as well?

— We are committed to making admission open to students with different backgrounds. The programme is pretty versatile, so both economists and art historians can feel comfortable studying here. I grew up in a family of theatre experts and I know how difficult it can be for art industry professionals to get a highly paid job offer in that competetive industry. To achive this, it is necessary to possess managerial skills and knowledge.

In that sense, this year our programme is diverse as never before, and we love it! This cohort includes a ballerina from the Mikhailovsky Theatre, historians and philologists. And, of course, we also welcome economists and managers. 

Read more about the Master’s Programme 'Arts and Culture Management' on our official webpage.