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'Art Around Us': What 'Arts and Culture Management' Teaches Its Students

The English-taught Master's programme 'Arts and Culture Management' was designed for those who want to become successful in creative industries and are ready to create new projects, combining art and business. The programme partners are the State Hermitage Museum, the Alexandrinsky Theatre, the Fabergé Museum, 'Sevkabel Port' and others. Read the interview with Elena Zelenskaya, Academic Supervisor of the programme.

'Art Around Us': What 'Arts and Culture Management' Teaches Its Students

HSE University – Saint Petersburg

The essence of the Master's programme 'Arts and Culture Management' is the intersection of art and business

The name of the programme in Russian differs from the English version in its nature. The English name 'Art and Culture Management' corresponds to the programme's contents and concisely depicts the key competencies which we will teach our students. 

But the name in Russian (the word-for-word translation would be 'Management in the Impressions Industry') is very important for understanding the context in which the programme exists. We can find impressions if not in all, then most spheres of life: impressions of using a certain product, visiting a gallery of contemporary art or a drama theatre. 

Nowadays, art is simply kept behind the museum doors and hidden from the eyes of ordinary people—it is around us: integrated into the urban environment in the form of public art and business, in its corporate culture, products and communication with a consumer. Companies use storytelling more often to tell about a brand's philosophy, history and legacy. They organise city events in collaboration with art institutions. The work with impressions has become almost common which led our programme to the intersection of art and business. 

Focus on the practice 

There are not so many programmes similar to 'Arts and Culture Management' in Russia. Our priority is applied activities—we prefer practice rather than theory. This is reflected in a large number of agreements with art institutions. Today, we are working with the State Hermitage Museum, Tsarskoye Selo, the Fabergé Museum, the Alexandrinsky Theatre, 'Sevkabel Port', the House of Cartier, the Manege Central Exhibition Hall and other organisations. We actively involve experts-practitioners, who clearly understand the market demand and how it will change, in creating the curriculum.

Year by year, we expand our partner network and integrate our partners into the educational process. The students undergo work placement in the partner companies, create important social projects with them and conduct research. It is important in terms of graduation portfolio. Our students enter the labour market not only with a diploma but also with work experience in the industry. Usually, their portfolio already has projects which influence the demand for them and their value in the labour market. In two years, the students manage to participate in several projects. We do not limit them in any way. Quite the opposite, we encourage their active position and motivation. I'll tell you about some of the most successful projects. 

The first one which comes to my mind is CIBA—a unique project which has been implemented three years in a row with the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre. This is a city event at the intersection of creative industries, business and art which was designed as a place where young people could meet experienced specialists from the sphere. Our students create the event programme and promote it, negotiate with speakers, run the social networks and so on. 

This year, the project has reached a new level. It is proved by the number of offline visitors and viewers of the online broadcast. The offline event was attended by 225 people, and more than 230 viewers watched the online broadcast. CIBA-2023 gathered heads, founders, and marketing directors of St Petersburg brands of completely different scales: from the food mall 'Vokzal 1853' to the space 'Sevkabel Port', from the fund 'Anton is Here' to 'VKontakte'. 

We also have projects with the state museum and heritage site 'Tsarskoe Selo'. Everyone knows it because of the facade of the Catherine Palace but on the territory of the museum, there are many other monuments of history and culture which can also attract visitors. The museum representatives are very interested in their promotion. It is the second year that we have been working with the Martial Chamber, which is the only museum of the First World War in Russia. Last year, our students participated in the organisation of a series of film shows and a lecture hall. This summer, there will be a festival 'In the Sky of Tsarskoe Selo: Aeronautics at the Imperial Residence'. 

The programme also offers research projects, for instance, from the Faberge Museum and the House of Cartier. At the beginning of 2023, we finished a big project which focused on the youth and their attitude to luxury goods. It was large-scale research consisting of three separate stages: in-depth interview, survey and experiment. The research object was students of the biggest universities in the country. Our students like this project as Cartier closely interacts with them: it organises strategic sessions, workshops, and offline and online meetings. This is an undoubtedly vivid case in the student’s portfolio. 

Studies in English 

The studies in the programme are fully in English. It is justified by the specifics of the sphere. Art is an undated language of international exchange. The largest art institutions in the world are in constant dialogue established with the help of the English language. It is a professional language in art management which is necessary for career development. 

Specialists in the sphere of art and culture should aim at international communication. We offer a great number of opportunities to our students. For example, there is a double-degree programme with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. For students, it is a chance to get a European diploma in addition to the one from HSE University. The cooperation with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart once again proves that we meet the world’s educational standards in the sphere of art management. The studies in the programme last for a year which allows the students to get both huge professional experience and the experience of intercultural communication. 

Graduates' tracks 

The programme is implemented in the School of Economics and Management, so the set of main competencies of a graduate is built around managerial skills: project management, financial management, marketing, analytics, and analysis of business processes. At the same time, all the courses are tailored to the sphere of art and culture. The graduates understand the economic and legal aspects of art institutions' activities. Next year, we will enhance the focus on digital competencies—we added two new courses to the curriculum: 'Practices of Digital Transformation' and 'Intellectual Property Management in the Digital Environment'. 

The graduates of our programme are future art managers, curators, project managers, gallerists, marketing managers, PR managers, consultants in the sphere of art management, creative directors and entrepreneurs. 

We do not limit the curriculum to the sphere of art and culture, thanks to that, we expand the graduates' opportunities in the labour market. In the past few years, we have been closely working with the luxury segment. We also never forget about the HoReCa. 

Team of 'Arts and Culture Management'

In the programme, there are strong specialists from the academic sphere, for example, Marina Matetskaya and Irina Borovskaya. Next year, our team will welcome Olga Ergunova who specialises in the HoReCa: she will teach a new course in branding in the field of hospitality. 

A lot of our courses are taught by practitioners. Next, for the third year in a row, we will cooperate with Sofia Grigoreva, Deputy Director of the Faberge Museum, an author of the course in the art economy. 

A strategic partner of our programme is the State Hermitage Museum. We closely interact with the Youth Centre which is headed by Sofia Kudriavtseva. Natalia Demina, an art expert, and Olga Yudina, a project manager of the Hermitage's Development Service, teach the courses 'Arts History and Contemporary Cultural Practices' and 'Management of Art Institutions'. This year, our team welcomed Ekaterina Prochan, Lead Counsel of the Hermitage. She teaches the course 'Legal Environment of Arts, Culture and Creative Industries'.

Entrepreneurship in the luxury segment is covered by Natalia Belyakova. The course 'Aesthetics of Luxury Business. The Cartier Phenomenon' is delivered by Arkadiy Izvekov, a curator of cultural legacy, research and educational programmes at Cartier.

Plans for the future

We have set several important tasks for us. We will continue attracting experts-practitioners from the industry who are ready to share their experience with the students and help them build a network of contacts. We are going to strengthen interaction with the institutions which engage in contemporary art, including the gallery business. Among our current partners are a few such organisations but the demand from the student is only increasing. 

In the task list, we also have further internationalisation: deepening the cooperation with foreign universities, inviting international professors and signing new partner agreements. Apparently, the geography of the partnership will be changing in the coming years, so we plan to establish connections with Asian universities which will open up new horizons for the students of our programme. 

What students the programme is waiting for 

Our programme does not have strict requirements for the applicants' backgrounds. We receive applications from lawyers, experts in Asian and African studies, linguists, managers, economists, and art experts—people with completely different knowledge and skills who are united by the desire to realise their aesthetic, creative and managerial potential. They want to work in a sphere which is not only practical but also has aesthetic value for an individual and society. 

Motivation is a key selection criterion. We always expect to see and feel an applicant's interest in art management and creative industries. Motivation is extremely important as the programme offers a lot of opportunities to develop—we want our students to be passionate about this business and use every chance to become a professional.