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Arts Management Executive Education

By Charles Spencer

Arts Management Executive Education

Say you’re an international arts management executive who wants to get up to speed on best practices in your field, both in the United States and abroad. Or maybe you need to know about arts resources and marketing or public and private partnerships. 

Those were among the topics 25 top arts management executives from Shanghai mastered in June as the inaugural cohort in the College of Arts and Science’s new Arts Management Executive Education program

In addition to daylong classes conducted by the highly regarded arts management faculty, the Shanghai executives also benefited from meeting experts in digital media and with arts leaders at the Kennedy Center.  

“The visit to the Kennedy Arts Center was fantastic,” wrote Christine Huanian Zhu, deputy editor in chief of the Shanghai Daily, in a letter to Sherburne Laughlin, director of the Arts Management Program in the Department of Performing Arts. “We met with the vice president who’s in charge of the China program and had a tour around the center.”  

The group later met with arts and media leaders in New York and San Francisco in trips arranged and handled by another party.  

As was typical with past Chinese groups on shorter visits to AU, a third of the participants in the five-day program were officials in the media, from the Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV to the Xinmin Evening News to the Shanghai Film Company. Since many of them were interested in digital media, Laughlin lined up a presentation by Carlos Roig, who helped digitize USA Today.  

Other arts executives represented the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, the Shanghai Center of Chinese Operas, and the Shanghai International Convention Center.  

Tailored to cohorts 

The program, tailored to individual groups, is available only to cohorts of at least 20 people. Participants who complete the course of intensive three, five, or 10 daylong classes, taught by the entire Arts Management Program faculty, earn a Certificate in Arts Management Executive Education.  

The goal is to offer up to three sessions of the program per year, which will be held in the summer or winter breaks.  

Arts executives from China and the Middle East have shown particular interest in the program. 

“We really wanted to be part of the growing professionalization of this sector internationally,” says Laughlin. “Besides doing a master’s and graduate certificates, executive education is another way people are accessing this important information.” 

During the past five years, the State Department has directed groups of performing arts and visual arts managers, museum officials, and other international delegations to the College of Arts and Science’s Arts Management Program to hear two-hour presentations on topics tailored to their needs. The desire to develop a more in-depth course led naturally to the new AU program.  

“There is so much interest internationally; we often travel abroad to teach arts management. However, the benefit of a study trip to the U.S. is that groups are able to visit major arts organizations and meet personally with high-level leaders.  

For more information on the program, contact Sherburne Laughlin at or 202-885-3485.