Blog 150: My Visit to Skidmore

This is my 150th blog for the Huffington Post. I am grateful to Arianna Huffington and the staff of the Huffington Post for the opportunity to write about arts management each week for almost three years. Arts management is still a young field and needs exposure, discussion and debate. Some of the blogs I have written -- about cultural diplomacy, arts education, the decline of professional journalism and the future of modern dance -- have sparked loud and vigorous dissent. That is not a bad thing in a field that hasn't yet coalesced around a central theory of good arts management.

My hope lies with the next generation of arts managers to develop theories and approaches that prove effective across a wide range of situations.

That hope was given a boost by my recent trip to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. Skidmore is a relatively small (2,200 students) school with a remarkable focus on the arts. Separate buildings and theaters for music, dance, theater and the visual arts give students amazing resources to learn and experiment. The new Zankel Hall (yes that Zankel) is a gorgeous concert hall with an unusual glass upstage wall that provides a view of the trees and grass that envelop the campus. (It immediately made me want to direct a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with the court on the stage and the scenes in the forest immediately behind the curtain wall.)

The college also boasts an arts management program that is inspiring many young people to consider a career in this field.

Spending two days with these students in classes and lecture was exciting and enlightening. They know far more about arts management than I could have dreamed of at that age.

They are passionate, knowledgeable and excited about the challenges they will face in this field. And they truly appreciate these challenges. They asked informed questions about marketing to younger audiences, the reduction of government funding for the arts in Europe and the challenges of raising money in less urban environments.

Many of them are also performers and are interested in starting their own arts organizations. They are primarily interested in the most effective ways to build an organization from nothing but a dream. But they are not idle dreamers; they are realistic and informed. They have a far better chance of creating a thriving organization because they are entering the field with their eyes wide open.

I know Skidmore is not alone in giving these opportunities to young arts managers. We see many arts management graduates from numerous colleges and universities every year at the Kennedy Center in our intern program.

I have to imagine that some of these students will be the ones to create a more solid foundation of arts management theory in the coming decades.

I cannot wait to read their blogs and books as they build on the thoughts and ideas that my older generation has struggled to develop.

They will be exciting to watch.