The MMIAM Journey

A blog about the Master of Management
in International Arts Management program

Arts Management in Developing Countries: A Latin American Perspective (Abridged)

by Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Philip Stanley Grant, François Colbert

Mainstream academia has focused on Arts Management in developed countries. Therefore, shaped by the different artistic, cultural and social contexts in developing economies, this research proposes a new model to help understand Arts Management in Latin America.

In Latin America, a lot of arts and culture organizations can rely only on their own cultural identity as a source of value creation. This is the case for music and other manifestations of social identity, such as work, social relations, popular representations, and heritage — all of which are culturally rooted and fulfill an indispensable economic function for the community.

In most artistic experiences, the “social contributions” (Sommer, 2006) which have been produced through intuitive and spontaneous management processes are of great importance and impact for their respective communities. These processes, in which social value is created, require, in many cases, a precondition for the creation of economic value. At a community level, three different types of impact can be identified: 1) the construction of social capital; 2) the creation of identity; and 3) the improvement of image and status.

This article presents three cases that, without being exhaustive, show the distinctive elements of the proposed arts management model for Latin American countries.

First, the three cases share the fact that they are bottom-up processes and, to a large extent, it is the communities that are being managed that guide and determine the management processes’ evolution and development. These processes are participative and conflictive, involving a trial and error strategy that is another distinctive element. This practice, in turn, gives way to a process of organisational learning, an administrative skill developed in order to institutionalise and integrate these processes in their social dynamic.

A high percentage of the success of these processes is determined by the social value “prompted” in the respective communities, in complex circumstances of unmet basic needs. The communities’ environment, based on “forced autonomy”, pressured them to find their own solutions. The above implies the development of competitive advantages, based on their characteristics as social groups, which mould their lifestyles.

Finally, the processes achieve the management goal which is the institutionalisation of the given promoted activity whereby art and culture are the instruments used to promote the legitimacy required to achieve such institutionalisation. In the three cases, the activities described became institutional reference points in their specific contexts.

A Latin American Perspective - Proposed Model
A Latin American Perspective – Proposed Model

Based on the identification of the arts as a factor of value creation, it is necessary to systematise the different management processes which made possible the design, production and distribution of the goods and services. The perspective described in this paper is experiential and community-based, with important impacts on the respective society. These intuitive management processes are aimed primarily at the satisfaction of urgent socioeconomic needs and the communities’ skills are the basic elements of these cultural manifestations.

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)
National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers), an example that could illustrate one of the article’s three cases: “Civic Culture: Bogotá and its transformation”.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Special Edition – Latin America – Spring 2016.