Gain the qualifications you need to pursue a management career in the arts

Diana Carroll

The University of Melbourne’s Master of Arts and Cultural Management program will develop your transferable skills so you can navigate a broad range of creative and cultural industries, including film, theatre, dance, music and the visual arts.
Gain the qualifications you need to pursue a management career in the arts

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash.

If you want to build on your professional experience and undergraduate studies with a higher degree, the Master of Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Melbourne could be your vital next step.

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‘Students gain skills that can be applied across the arts and cultural sector, from working with a symphony orchestra or a dance company to a government department or local council agency,’ said program director Dr Kate MacNeill.

‘The Master of Arts and Cultural Management program features a combination of theoretically informed learning and very practical industry-based examples. The course has very strong relationships with industry organisations, cultural institutions, and companies,’ she said.

Curator Kat Kohler, Assistant Exhibition Producer for Awaken, is a graduate of the Master of Art Curatorship program at Melbourne University. As part of her studies, she took several Master of Arts and Cultural Management subjects, and says these practice-based courses were a real highlight of her studies.

‘What I loved most about my degree were the practice-based and context-specific learning opportunities I experienced, which included the overseas fieldwork opportunity Contemporary Art in China. This took me to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong with Dr Claire Roberts and Dr Mikala Tai,’ said Kohler.

‘It was an incredible opportunity to gain first-hand insight to the contemporary art landscape in mainland China and Hong Kong, including visiting artist studios, gallery spaces and museums and making connections with leading professionals and artists. Over a year has passed and I still reflect on my experiences, the artists I met and spaces visited. It’s still pretty surreal that I sat next to artist, Xiao Lu over Peking duck in Beijing.’

Kohler was working at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and moved to Australia to study at Melbourne University. Her first degree was a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Art History. 

‘I had knowledge and experience of visitor services, educational programming and development, but I wanted to be more connected to artists and their practice by curating exhibitions,’ said Kohler. As she applied for new positions, she found that the majority preferred candidates with a Master’s degree. ‘I made a list of cities around the world where I could study and see an opportunity, see myself living and contributing to the arts ecology. Melbourne was at the top of the list!’

All students in the Master of Arts and Cultural Management program are given the opportunity to take an internship nationally, or internationally. This can be tailored to their own professional interests and area of specialisation.

Academic learning is also important to underpin the practice-based knowledge and give students a strong theoretical framework. For Kohler, two of her favourite courses from the Arts and Cultural Management program were Working in Indigenous Cultural Contexts and Cultural Festival and Special Events. Students also develop a practical understanding of cultural policy development within local councils and government. 

Increasingly, graduates of the Master of Arts and Cultural Management are making their careers internationally in appointments to exciting and diverse organisations such as the Roundabout Theatre in New York and the iconic Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Melissa McShane is a graduate student in the MA and Cultural Management program. She says the breadth of coursework within the Masters program is impressive.

‘In just one year, I’ve gone from studying arts law and policy all the way through to creating festivals, back to the economics of culture and finance and budgeting,’ says McShane, who was successful in securing a job in the industry after just one semester of the Master of Arts and Cultural Management. ‘I think they really value what I’ve learnt here,’ she said.

The Master of Arts and Cultural Management can be completed in one or two years’ full-time study, depending on your previous study and professional experience. Students who graduate from the program will be ready to take the next exciting step in their arts and cultural management careers.

For more information visit graduate.arts.unimelb.edu.au.

About the author

Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the SMH, the Oz, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.