Albert from the USA and Colombia – Alumnus
What did you do before you started studying the Master’s programme in Service Management?
"I am a professional opera singer and producer. I had an active career, but I wanted to go back to school to learn more about management in the arts field, so I applied and got in!"
What was the best thing about the programme?
"I liked the idea that the instruction was in a small setting. We had one to one interaction with the instructors. I was very pleased with the teachers in general and I thought they were very knowledgeable about non-profit, arts management, and arts in the Scandinavia region – that was a highlight for me. I also liked a couple of exercises we had where we interacted with real organisations. We created projects with action plans for their education department, for their outreach programmes and their social media engagement. Presenting our work to real organisations was a very good educational exercise. I already had experience in management working for IMG artists in London and SF Opera in San Francisco, so I wanted to really connect with local organisations, and I was able to do so through this programme."
What was it like to study in Sweden?
"I really liked Sweden, especially Malmö and Helsingborg! For me, it was also about living in Sweden, being in Sweden, learning Swedish and getting to know the culture. I lived in Malmö, so I had to commute to Helsingborg, but overall, it was great. After a while, you get used to the Swedish lifestyle and it is so comfortable. On a very personal level, I feel at home in Sweden. I met wonderful people and I love the language, the culture, the food and way of thinking. To be honest, I am not the most neutral person to ask, because loved Sweden before even coming here. I have a poster of Swedish cities by Bo Lundberg all over the walls in my LA flat and some Swedish design pieces here and there! It was a great experience; I didn't want it to end!"
What do you work with?
"I was hired to be the lead producer for the 25th anniversary of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. I am producing a series of 12 festivals throughout LA County. It is a big undertaking: this project is so large, so I was very happy, and quite surprised, that they asked me to produce those events. These festivals are a combination of fine arts, performing arts, and community-based organisations that represent the diversity of the different communities in the LA region. Working for the Getty and Community Arts Resources (CARS) is a great opportunity for my professional career as a producer and creative. Being able to produce those events allow me to put in context what I learned in Sweden."
What is the biggest challenge in your current position?
"Well, there are a couple. The scope of the project is huge and millions of dollars for the budget are on the line. Also, I must engage with 12 different partners, so coordination of processes and communication skills are crucial. Another thing is that I am originally not from Los Angeles, so I had to get to know the city very well as part of the preparation for this job. I had to get familiar with the politics involved in all council districts and get to know all the partner organisations involved and their work dynamics. In addition to that, I must get familiar with the legal side, which is very complicated."
How do you use the knowledge you gained during your studies in your working life?
"We had a class about organisations and organisations' culture by Johan Alvehus, which was really applicable for this project. He was the supervisor of my thesis and is someone who pushed me to set myself high standards because he is very knowledgeable and understands how organisations work. I also apply a lot of the ideas that we saw with Katja Lindqvist who is also very knowledgeable about museum studies in Sweden. These two people were very significant to me because I learned a lot from them. They were very open about sharing their professional experiences with me."
What advice would you give to new students?
"I would say in general for artists and people who are interested in learning about art management, you must be very proactive. Arts organisations are very special organisms. They really require having a proactive approach, being extensively knowledgeable in the field, and having that extra mile of engagement, because art organisations, in general, are always struggling for money and for resources. So as an artist and as an administrator, you really need to be proactive, resourceful and have this concept of creativity and imagination as the base of your work. You must see things from a different perspective. You cannot sit down and wait until a job comes to you. You need to make things happen and create your own opportunities."