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Theatre Journal 53.2 (2001) 357-358
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Management and the Arts
Management and the Arts.William J. Byrnes. 2nd Edition. Boston: Focal Press, 1999; pp. v + 337. $44.95.
Management and the Arts is a much-needed resource for the field of arts administration where comprehensive texts on the subject are scarce. Author William J. Byrnes, Associate Dean and Professor at the School of Theatre at Florida State University, directs a Master's program in Theatre Management and uses his practical experience as overseer of marketing, public relations, and ticket office operations as a basis for the information detailed in this text. The book encompasses a combination of theory and practice and proves a valuable introduction to the many facets of arts management.
Organization of an all-encompassing text on arts management is a daunting task since the many professions within the field of arts administration are notoriously varied. The author lists at least twenty areas that offer job opportunities in lower, middle, and upper management (3). True to his profession, Byrnes handles the content order by organizing the management process into four traditional management functions: Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling, with one or more corresponding chapters relating to the appropriate process. Exemplary and useful introductory chapters include information on the career challenges/qualities/opportunities of arts managers and a history of business management in general and arts management in particular. The author also includes chapters on economics and the arts, marketing, and fund raising, as well as management styles and theories. While most of the book flows from one area of concentration naturally and logically to the next, a few chapters have necessarily been added, seemingly out-of-order, for the purpose of providing a broad knowledge of an ever-expanding field.
Since the purpose of the text is to introduce students, undergraduates in particular, to the broad field of arts administration, none of the chapters provides extraordinary in-depth analysis or instruction. The writing focuses more on theory than practice, so the chapters dealing with marketing and fund raising, for instance, are quite useful as a preface to these managerial skills, but other detailed publications exist to supplement the necessarily scant practical information. The book's true value is in providing a sorely needed overview in the comparatively new field of arts administration.
While the text is written in a lively, understandable style, one chapter ("Economics and the Arts"), however, addresses macroeconomics and microeconomics in a rather confusing manner, with little seeming application to the arts. Either the information is too sophisticated for a beginning reader or not explained in a style clear enough for the neophyte manager to comprehend; the charts are definitely bewildering.
Stephen Langley's Theatre Management and Production in America--another comprehensive tome although out-of-print--has traditionally been used in many theatre management classes. While both [End Page 357] Theatre Management and Production in America and Management and the Arts cover all types of theatre organizations, the Langley book leans slightly toward the professional theatre, while the Byrnes text appears more slanted toward the nonprofit world. One suggestion for the Byrnes' book, however, is to add more information about the unions. Whether working on Broadway or in regional theatre, an arts administrator will need a more vigorous beginning background on the various unions.
While Byrnes attempts to address all artistic disciplines--visual and performing arts, as well as museums--there is a much-appreciated focus on theatre. In other arts management books, it seems that music or visual arts get the attention, with references to theatre usually an afterthought. While not ignoring the other arts, Byrnes employs a number of examples from theatre. The author provides useful, up-dated, and contemporary case studies throughout each chapter, again with numerous references to theatre, but does not ignore other arts areas. Case studies, however, are left open-ended: the problems are left to the reader to unravel; the solutions (if any) are left unresolved. These cases provide material for lively class discussions.
A great deal of emphasis is placed on the multiple environments that influence the actions...