Arts manager


Executive Director

Curtis has led LIMS since 2019. Guiding the organization through the global COVID-19 pandemic, rebuilding programs and restructuring operations.

Founder / Executive Artistic Director

Curtis founded KineoLab in 2017 a s a center for dance, kinetic exploration, and community.

Arts manager

Op-Ed on The Devos Institute for Arts Management’s move from The Kennedy Center to the University of Maryland

The Diamondback

December 5th, 2013

The University of Maryland is a world-class, educational institution, leading in arts research and innovation. Therefore, I am not surprised by the recent acquisition of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management to the University’s portfolio. The DeVos Institute and its creator, Michael Kaiser will no doubt be a valuable asset in furthering the University’s long established role in art making and research.

I have participated in DeVos workshops and reviewed course materials and it is my opinion that, though a great resource for practice-based skill development, the DeVos Institute does not teach with the rigor of inquiry-based education, but rather with prescriptive models and formulae, that long-term, do not support sustainable arts management. Mr. Kaiser has built a wonderful not-for-profit consultancy firm for arts organizations, but I question its place in academia at a Research I institution where theoretical inquiry is paramount.

Mr. Kaiser is spot on, in his Huffington Post column, that we have a lack of great arts managers in this country. Indeed, there is not enough attention paid to the training of arts managers. However, I question Mr. Kaiser’s view that arts management “…is a practical field…and must be taught through real-time, real-world experiences.” This accounts for only half of what makes a great arts manager. The other half, and I would argue, more important, is deeply engaged inquiry. Arts Management as an academic discipline and formalized profession is a youthful field that has not yet begun to scratch the surface of the knowledge potential it holds. Only by insightful theoretical inquiry applied through practice will we be able to find eloquent, effective and sustainable solutions to the many issues that plague the arts. 

All too often, arts management professionals assume that trendy oversimplified models are an all-in-one solution. However, the arts do not fit into neat categorical descriptions. Humanity is constantly and forever changing, in our relationship to ourselves, our environment, society, etc. Therefore the ways in which we define ourselves, culture, are forever in flux. In forcing the arts into an Apollonian model we lose the very purpose for which they exist: to inspire, to provoke inquiry, to catalyze change, to make sense and meaning of our lives. Business-minded managers oftentimes employ a reductive approach to arts management that limits the aesthetic experience between a work of art and its audience to mere transaction. By reducing art to mere product, to be bought and sold, we change our relationship to it and deny its true purpose.

Perhaps the larger problem here is that we have allowed academia to slip down the slope of core purpose from true learning to that of securing jobs. When education becomes so desperately focused on job training, instead of provoking innovation and illumination, it resorts to mere vocational training.

I have great respect for Mr. Kaiser and for all he has done in the name of arts management but I caution the University in adopting a purely practice-based program of arts management. Instead, a program that strongly focuses on challenging accepted norms of management and arts presentation, while pushing students to ask the difficult questions that will truly change how we manage, through inquiry-based research, should be the aim. Of course this should be bolstered by practice but not led by it. The role of a University should be to both transmit and expand humanity’s collective knowledge. We would do well to remind ourselves that our responsibility is to teach students to become independent thinkers and thereby positively affect the world around them. By teaching through prescriptive methods we disempower them and limit possibility. 

Curtis Stedge, M.A.

MFA Candidate in Dance

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies