The MMIAM Journey

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

Jozef Spiteri (photo: Nell Pfeiffer)

Combining Management Strengths with a Passion for the Arts: In Conversation with Cultural Entrepreneur Jozef Spiteri

Jozef Spiteri graduated from the MMIAM program in 2015. Prior to his graduate studies, he was working for Montreal’s MURAL Festival. He is now working for POP Montreal, as Director of Partnerships, where he creates transformative art and music experiences using the power of creative collaboration. Laura Adlers caught up with him recently to learn about his experience with the MMIAM program and what he is doing now.

Your LinkedIn profile says you are a ‘creative troublemaker’. Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am a creative troublemaker who tries to approach the world in a fresh and original way that is not shaped by preconceptions. My commitment to and passion for managing creative projects and promoting them to new audiences has propelled me into the creative industry. Working on projects related to audience experience offers a perfect opportunity to combine my management strengths with my devotion for the arts.

I am playful, persistent and curious. I have held positions in festivals, concert halls and communications and marketing agencies; I also work internationally. I am most passionate about: brand/culture alignment, experiential & creative events, event production, sponsor activation, creative content, digital marketing, social media strategy, lifestyle marketing, and artist management.

Jozef Spiteri: working while playing (photo credit: Jonah Clifford).

What was your goal in pursuing graduate studies and the MMIAM program?

HEC’s MMIAM program is unlike any other. My intention was to gain an international understanding of the intersection of business and arts. I was enticed by the combination of world-class professors and first-hand experience in the field.

The valuable experience of studying in the various countries helped us gain an understanding of how the arts are financed and packaged before being enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Through the specialized knowledge of the professors and guest lecturers, we were exposed to a broad range of unique points of view and ways of approaching different cultural experiences.

The network of peers that I have surrounded myself with through this program is truly invaluable. On a daily basis, I make use of transferable skills by putting into practice concepts taught in various countries and am able to bounce ideas off of my former classmates.

Which courses helped you the most in realizing these goals?

The courses that helped me the most given my field of work were the fundraising course with Jolynne Jensen (SMU, Dallas), international marketing with François Colbert (HEC Montreal), the leadership course with Wendy Reid (HEC Montreal) and entrepreneurship with Mikkel Draebye (SDA Bocconi, Milan).

I found that my experience was much more than the content of the courses. I truly learned how to be adaptable. My classmates and I attended a diverse range of courses, pivoted through different school systems (in different time zones) and got to collaborate with students from around the world. This gave me a comprehensive understanding of soft power and how it works within different economic contexts and how we find intersections and common goals in order to collaborate.

Where are you working now?

I am currently the Director of Partnership for POP Montreal International Music Festival. POP is an annual not-for-profit curated cultural event that champions independence in the arts by presenting emerging and celebrated artistic talents from around the world. This festival runs year-round, culminating in a week of shows in Montreal.

I tap into the international connections established during my time in the MMIAM program to further the festival’s mission of championing emerging artists.

Last night of POP Montréal 2018 (photo credit: Ming Wu).

What are important life and professional skills necessary to be a successful cultural entrepreneur?

Cultural entrepreneurs are both agents of change and resourceful visionaries who organize cultural, financial, social and human capital, to generate revenue from a cultural activity.

In other words, as a cultural entrepreneur, I use both sides of my brain – my arts side and my business side. I use a human and experience-centered approach that is founded on the principles of good business and strategic partnerships.

What advice would you give to future students looking to embark on the MMIAM Journey?

My advice to future students is to participate fully in the program, attend class, and get to know your classmates. Not only will they become lifelong friends but also key members of your network.

If you are able to balance school and extracurriculars, take the time to attend conferences and discover underground art scenes in each city. Look into various types of art, you can learn just as much from street art as you can from Alexander Calder’s mobiles.

Ask lots of questions — ask your professors, your classmates and the locals in the various cities of the program. Learning is not confined to the walls of the classroom. There is so much to discover in our exciting field!

JS-Monserrate Group Shot - Bogota-sm
MMIAM’s second cohort at Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia, 2015 (Laura Adlers’ archive).