ENCATC 21st Annual Conference held in Antwerp (5-7 November 2013) was on a very important topic on what should we improve and develop in the educational world to better meet the needs of tomorrow in terms of skills and competences that the future cultural managers would require. Academics, researchers and professionals from the educational and cultural sectors, students and media representatives from more than 50 countries came together to share their expertise and experiences in this subject matter and to find partnership strategies to approach the future. Panel discussions and sessions were focused on how we could shift the teaching methodologies from the more traditional teacher-led approaches to innovative and interactive ways of learning, considering the actual realities and practical cases. Connections between educational programs and the needs of the arts and cultural sector were also touched in details, incl. the situation in creative industries, performing arts, cultural heritage and other areas. The separate research sessions on diverse topics, as well as the organized study visits to several arts and cultural organizations in Antwerp contributed well to the Conference’s objectives.
The final session during the last day was particularly devoted to the question “Which education for tomorrow’s cultural managers: are skills and competencies enough?”. My intervention covered three important aspects, with the overall viewpoint that being an education is a long-term responsibility: how we could better develop the academic curricula, what kind of skills and competences the arts managers of tomorrow need, and what might be some of the innovative methods of learning that we still need to implement and advance in the classroom environment:
1. Developing of curricula of academic programs and courses in arts management
- We need to think strategically and consider the overall context outside of the educational world – observing the future trends, and in partnership with key stakeholders.
- It is of utmost importance to not only develop further the academic research and publications, but to also show and share “work in progress” – not finished academic papers, research that has just started, so that we can share opinions and can learn from each other within the academic community.
- Multiple languages in research work matter too – most of the research work and publications are disseminated in English, we do need to support and translate publications from different countries.
- There is a difference is the course developed under a business/management department or under arts department: the curricula changes accordingly.
Below are the set of skills and competences I believe our students need to obtain to be able to cope with the challenges of the future:
- Running small organizations – flexibility, change, uncertainty, risk taking.
- “Thinking outside the box” – innovative ways of approaching problems and issues, undertaking new initiatives.
- Analytical thinking and reflection, being able to understand and apply divers research methods.
- International perspective and multicultural sensitivity – ability to work in different countries and context, with diverse multicultural teams and audiences.
- Digital skills – managing online tools for creation as well as for dissemination of arts products and services; considering the global markets.
- Entrepreneurship skills: it is not just about being able to elaborate and implement a business model, starting from a creative idea, but about managing a project or organization in a sustainable mode and surviving in the overall competitive environment.
3. Methods of learning
We do need to develop interactive, engaging and online methods of learning, such as:
- Flipped classroom;
- Distant learning concept-combining online and offline learning;
- Interactivity – working in small groups, role playing , discussions;
- Connecting theory with practical assignments- field studies, elaboration of projects and plans for real cultural organization;
- Using films and videos for educational purposes;
- Following up students’ professional advancement after they graduate-coaching and mentoring on an ongoing basis.
This final session of the ENCATC Annual Conference was also the concluding event of a 2 year project, CREA.M (Creative Blended Mentoring for Cultural Managers), funded by the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci program. Over the past two years, 8 partners have reflected on rethinking how to foster creativity and entrepreneurial skills for cultural managers based on the mapping of competencies needed in the cultural sector. It is indeed a great project and the outcomes will certainly serve as inspiration for other similar initiatives focusing on the professional development and learning in the cultural sector. The 21st ENCATC Annual Conference was a great opportunity to learn and advance professionally, to meet new colleagues and old friends. The 3 days were certainly intensive, packed and inspired. Many thanks to ENCATC secretariat, the Board and the Scientific Committee for making this possible! Hoping we all will keep in touch virtually, until the next meeting in 2014!