At first glance, culture and management may seem to be two contradictory terms. The former is commonly associated with self-expression and creativity, whilst the latter represents regulated processes and hierarchies. But if culture is to be institutionalized and possibly even financially lucrative, instead of limited to courtyards and pedestrian zones, it has to be organized professionally. Cultural management emerges at exactly this intersection.
The term describes a whole spectrum of occupations that result from the realization of artistic and cultural projects, rather than a single profession. The full organizational spectrum can range from fund-raising and sponsoring to PR work, exhibition planning, cultural mediation and artist support. Sometimes only some of these tasks can be the responsibility of cultural managers, and it may vary from one position to another. It is also not unusual to work as a freelance cultural entrepreneur in this field. Working in the cultural sector therefore requires flexibility, organizational skills and the desire to take initiative and make decisions. Owing to the international dimension of the cultural scene, knowledge of foreign languages is also often an advantage. They work as a link between the artists and the audience and organize the general framework for the art; but do not create art themselves.
Good knowledge of the cultural scene combined with entrepreneurial thinking is in demand
Anyone looking to get started in this field needs an artistic mindset as well as classical entrepreneurial skills. The work requires flexibility, organizational skills and the desire to take initiative and make decisions. Also, proficiency in foreign languages is frequently advantageous due to the international nature of the field. Although the discipline of cultural management emerged as an independent degree program at the end of the 1980s due to the increasing demand for trained professionals, it is still an interdisciplinary field of work and is therefore also suitable for students of other disciplines. Overall, the field of cultural management is very broad, and the tasks can vary greatly depending on the position.
Especially if you're looking to specialize in one certain area (museum pedagogy, curation, exhibition planning, etc.), it is advisable to gain targeted experience in order to sharpen your profile. Also, you should take a look at bigger formats and institutions, since generalist positions tend to dominate in smaller places. Employment can be found in cultural institutions such as museums, galeries, opera houses, film and literature festival, theaters, etc., but also slightly less obvious vendors of art, such as company exhibitions or cultural support of a communal housing association. Working independently as a Cultural Entrepreneur is also common in this field.
Due to the wide range of activities, it is advisable to search not only for the term cultural management, but also for related positions, e.g. in cultural mediation, PR and social media management, as curator, artistic director, cultural consultant or project manager in the cultural sector.