MA Arts Management
Unique Selling Points for Programme
We have a very close relationship with the Arts and Cultural Sector, as well as funders and policymakers, in part due to the closeness of NI as a sector, but also due to the high level of input from them in supporting the course through teaching and hosting placements/attending showcases. Each year there is an event which is attended by industry professionals and students present their research
The interdisciplinary programme. Students are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines and teaching covers a broad range of creative industries and practices. This prepares students for the real life experience of work in the arts management and cultural policy field.Many similar UK programmes focus on specific areas, such as galleries, etc.
Good balance of theory and practice drawn from academic staff having significant industry practice experience and a balance between academic learning and support of industry professionals to deliver programme
Students undertake sector-based training of relevance to contemporary arts and cultural sector. This includes the placement element which thrives thanks to our close links with the sector, the involvement of industry professionals in teaching and the combination of practical and theoretical coursework to ground students in directly transferable skills in to the workplace.
The course has been at full capacity for a number of years and places are restricted to maximise student experience. A high proportion of students each year are international, principally from China but also from other East Asian nations, India, USA, Canada, and Europe. They join a diverse range of students from Northern Ireland, other countries in the UK, Republic of Ireland. Students are drawn from a range of disciplines and many are creative graduates whose primary discipline is in the arts. The course welcomes students who are already working in the field in a range of roles and disciplines and many join the course part-time.
Can you tell me more about the Placement?
The placement is a course requirement and it is unpaid. It consists of 18 full time days but these can happen consecutively, spread across several months, may be half days etc. – it is flexible. The placement has to take place between end Nov and end of June.
Students have taken on a variety of different types of work placements over the years. The type of placement depends on the student’s area of interest and the organization that the approach, their skills and capacity and what work they have available. Students are encouraged to consider what areas of work and experience they would like to develop.
Students have taken on the following types of work:
- Assisting in the development of marketing and project plans
- Carrying out audience research for organisations
- Developing, delivering and writing up evaluations
- Assisting in the running and managing of events and projects
- Working in education programmes in established arts organisations
- Developing new ideas for public programmes
- Developing and pitching fundraising bids and applications
Students often take leadership roles on projects and are guided with support from the organization hosting them. Some examples of organisations that hosted work placement students are:
- Arts Council of Northern Ireland
- The Strand Arts Centre
- Tinderbox Theatre Company
- Arts Care
- Cahoots NI
- Moving on Music
- Ulster Orchestra
- Oh Yeah Centre
- Young at Art
- Belfast Book Festival
- Arts Ekta
- AVA Festival
- National Museums of Northern Ireland
- Are international students able to find placements ok?
Yes, students are meant to find their own placements. This is considered part of the learning experience. The Course Director leads the placement module and gives one-to-one advice. No student has ever failed to secure a placement.
Note that some students travel internationally or return home to do their placement – for example, in recent years students have returned to Hunan Province in China to do their placement at the Museum in their district. Despite the pandemic, many students continued their placements digitally. In 2020 – 2021, potential hosts will be encouraged to offer both in-person and digital placements, opening up opportunities to do international placements while remaining in Belfast.
- How is the placement assessed?
Students are asked to give an individual video presentation reflecting on their experience on the placement, considering what they have learned and how it relates to the theory and learning
Some of our students go on for further PhD study in areas of cultural policy and arts management research here in Northern Ireland, in other parts of the UK and overseas.
Other students go on to work in the arts and cultural sector. The following are some of the jobs they have taken on:
- Research and Policy Development Coordinator
- Gallery Curator
- Development Officer at an international festival
- Independent film maker/producer
- Regional Coordinator of a national gender equality campaign
- Digital Content Manager in an independent publisher
- Creative Facilitator at an independent theatre company
- Front of House Manager at an arts or theatre venue
- Assistant Arts Officer in a local authority
In addition to working for established organisations, a number of our graduates go on to set up their own companies and organisations.
All postgraduate students have access to the Graduate School which offers study space, bookable rooms for group study and activities and a range of training and support.
A number of talks and events are held in the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s. Selected students present their dissertation research at a public event held for policy makers and the arts and cultural sector in Northern Ireland within the theatre space.
Students are also encouraged to make connections with and propose programme ideas for the Queen’s Film Theatre, an independent cinema on campus, the Naughton Gallery, a dedicated gallery space on campus; and other performance spaces, like the Harty Music Room at Queen’s. Students have access to a range of activities including free events and creative writing workshops through the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s. Each year, students can also engage with free lunchtime concerts and a range of workshops and events at the unique Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s, which also hosts the Sonorities Festival. All of these cultural elements of campus life have formed part of student placements, research projects, in-class activities and general volunteering/professional development opportunities.
In addition to all of these great facilities, the location of the MA in Arts Management within the School of Arts, English and Languages and working with other MA programmes within the School and Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, means students on the programme can access a wide array of international research seminars and public talks (in film, public history, literature, cultural studies, music, theatre).
We encourage students to take their own initiative and develop their own ideas for new programmes, such as music performances, public events and more. Funding is available through the Graduate School for student-led activities while the Students’ Union and wide array of societies offer other routes for getting involved in campus life and culture. During the MA programme, students will gain skills in this area and we are very happy to advise them on approaching colleagues in Queen’s University to take some ideas forward to reality.
How much work is required on the MA in Arts Management?
The MA consists of 6 compulsory modules and a Dissertation module. Additionally, students may audit modules in other programmes within the School of Arts, English and Languages in a range of forms and a full selection of research seminars and events are offered throughout the year. Students are supported through the Graduate School with weekly sessions in Academic Writing and Peer Proof-reading as well as dedicated support sessions for international students. Through the Graduate School, students can access a wide range of both academic and professional development training opportunities, some accredited and some not.
Compulsory module sessions on the MA will involve a mixture of lectures, discussion and team-based work. Lectures will cover key points and provide opportunities for questions and critical analysis. It is an expectation that students will be reading assigned literature and come to sessions prepared with questions. Fulltime students can expect a minimum of 6 contact hours per week plus additional Graduate School sessions and optional activities. As a Master’s level programme, all students are expected to undertake a minimum of 6 – 8 hours of independent study and reading per week per module. Excellent library and study facilities are available for this as well as excellent online resources and a newly updated Virtual Learning Environment.
How will the course be affected by the global pandemic?
In 2020 – 2021, the learning experience will be affected by public health restrictions and a blended option will be offered, adjusting to the changing situation. Students will not only experience lectures and seminars (virtually and in-person as the situation allows) but also a wide variety of supported learning online through asynchronous teaching, discussion forums and case studies. All course materials have been updated to reflect how the arts and cultural industries field is changing as a result of the global pandemic so students are guaranteed up to date learning. In addition, in the years leading up to the outbreak of COVID19, Queen’s University Belfast invested heavily in digital resources – a Virtual Learning Environment (Canvas), Office 365 Suite for all staff and students, growth in the numberof ebooks and digital subscriptions through the library. In addition, to any safety measures on the site, this means the programme is ready for any further public health restrictions and all studies will be able to continue.
As the programme marries academic theory with contemporary practice, all course learning is delivered by a combination of academic staff and industry professionals. All current academic staff also have backgrounds within the contemporary arts and cultural sector in a range of international management and policy practices. This means that students get the full advantages of living working knowledge of contemporary trends in arts and cultural management and support in translating research and learning to those industry settings.
In addition, students can expect to gain significant benefit from the interdisciplinarity of the programme. Like the wider arts and cultural sector, the programme draws on expertise from multiple artforms and roles. Lecturers have specialist knowledge in artistic programming, audience research, international projects, community-based practice, public policy, entrepreneurship and commercial enterprise and come from a range of artform disciplines. This is ideal for students joining the programme keen to widen their opportunities and gain relevant transferable knowledge and skills
Profile of Course Director – Dr Ali FitzGibbon
Dr Ali FitzGibbon has combined research in arts management with independent producing, programming and consultancy in the cultural sector since 2015. She has been a lecturer on the MA in Arts Management at Queen’s University Belfast since 2012, joining the School as a fulltime staff member in 2019 and assuming the role of MA Convener in November 2019. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the international arts and cultural sector and a substantial portfolio of experience working as a programmer and producer at community, national and international level in theatre, festivals, outdoor and youth arts. In addition, she regularly undertakes advisory work on strategic management and leadership in the voluntary, social enterprise and community sectors.
She is on the editorial board of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy and has worked in an advisory capacity for a range of local authorities and public bodies in arts and cultural planning and policy.
Ali's research has been focused on the field of management and leadership in the cultural and creative industries in the UK, examining the influence of public policy and public management on cultural sector behaviour, particularly in relation to cultural labour. Her interests are drawn to investigation into behaviours around risk-taking in cultural policy and cultural industries and what role risk management plays as a barrier to innovation, concepts of sustainability, diverse models of production and artistic freedom. She is currently developing three strands of research. The first is looking at connections between non-profit management research and theory and cultural/arts management, in particular considering the ethics of the cultural and creative industries. The second strand is looking at processes of decision-making within local and international cultural markets (looking particularly at the interplay between domestic and international festivals and touring circuits). Her final interest is a continuation of her research since 2015 on artists as stakeholders in industry and policy decision-making.
I tweet: @fitzali