Three arts professionals step up to leadership roles in their fields through Deakin's Arts and Cultural Management programs.
For those working in the arts, there can come a time to step back from the practitioner’s life and look towards management roles in arts organisations that will keep the arts ecosystem thriving from the grassroots to the top level.
Elise Tobin, Ben Neutze and Celeste Blewitt are arts professionals who have taken that step.
They chose Deakin’s Arts and Cultural Management courses to develop sector-specific business knowledge, skills and networks that will create new opportunities for them in the arts and creative industries.
Each came to their course from quite a different direction.
National Arts and Culture Editor with Australia’s Time Out, Ben Neutze decided to undertake an online Graduate Certificate in Business (Arts and Cultural Management) at Deakin, on top of his day job.
He was motivated in part by a desire to better understand what goes right – and sometimes wrong – in the bridge between the artist (or arts organisations) and the audience.
Also, he says, “I was looking for a way to broaden my skills and knowledge in the arts, to see if there were ways of opening up other doors to continue work in this space in different ways. The Deakin program seemed a great way to do it.”
For Celeste Blewitt, with more than 10 years’ experience in film and television industry in costume and styling, choosing the Master of Business in Arts and Cultural Mangaement was a decision to deepen her knowledge of the business.
“My experience had given me a strong knowledge of the operational aspects of the film and television industry in Australia, but I was really keen to expand my skill-set and understanding of the business and financial side of the sector, as well as the creative industries more broadly.
“I’m Interested in the intersect, in how these two opposing areas [of arts and business] are able to co-exist and enable creation. The degree is ticking all those boxes for me,” Celeste says.
Elise Tobin, now a Campaign Manager for Millmaine Entertainment, was armed with a Bachelor of Business (Public Relations) and had been working in the arts for 5 years when she enrolled. On top of that, she says, “I grew up in the industry, as my mum used to own a theatre!“
Even so, she could see the value in deepening her knowledge. “At the time I started I was incredibly passionate about working in the arts industry but didn’t know exactly which aspect I wanted to work in. The course looked like a broad and interesting way to gain a good understanding of the industry and also learn some skills which could be applied on the job.”
Before she finished, the sector was already calling. She says “I took a break to gain some more industry experience – which I found really valuable in helping me complete the course. During that time, I worked at Buxton Walker Publicity, Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh, Mary Tobin Presents, Adelaide Festival, Darwin Festival and Melbourne Festival.”
But arts experience is just one step towards an understanding of leadership in the arts. It also requires sector-specific financial and management knowledge delivered with insider insight.
So, while he has learned much through his work as a journalist, Ben admits that “it’s actually not easy to find that information, which is why the Deakin program has been so helpful.” He adds, “I am now able to better engage in conversations about management and the different schools of thought behind it. And becoming financial literate, through the financial interpretation component, has been really useful.”
The industry’s input into the course was readily apparent to Elise. She says, “The coursework and assessments are industry led and I have found you come across similar projects when working in the industry, so most of the learnings can be applied in practice.”
Her experience during and after study has only confirmed that the Deakin Master of Business (Arts and Cultural Management) is “one of the most relevant Arts leaderships courses in Australia.”
According to Celeste, matching course content to your experience and ambition is a great feature of the program, but the connections and networks really make a difference.
“I like that I am able to tailor each subject to my industry, skill set, and to where I would like to move towards in the future. I enjoy being able to base my learning on knowledge that I have and what will be important for me in the future.”
Celeste loves how the degree has deepened her understanding of the arts and cultural sector more broadly, and she has embraced the opportunity to forge connections with a diverse range of people.
A study tour to San Francisco and Silicon Valley brought this home to her. “A key takeaway for me was how valuable it is to work on building connections. I was able to get to know other Deakin students from various streams of the MBA. We could all learn from each other, find where our interests and skills intersect, and build our professional networks”.
For Elise, too, one of the biggest benefits was the fruitful connections she made and continues to draw on. “The most rewarding part of the course was connecting with the other students and learning about what opportunities there were in the industry. Everyone brought a lot of knowledge and passion to the course, including lectures and guest speakers. It has introduced me to a lot of contacts, which is super important for the arts industry.”
Elise says the diversity of students – in terms of interest, skills, and career stage – was particularly valuable, helping broaden and enrich her understanding of the sector.
“All the students were at different levels of their career, and with that came really interesting and valuable insights.”