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An Art Administrator’s Reading List

Published November 10, 2020

Written by Courtney Normandin

Arts administration is an emerging field where there is more specialization in arts management in nonprofit organizations. A wide-encompassing sector, arts administrators can be leaders of nonprofit arts organizations (like performing arts centers or community theaters), work in a college of fine arts or music, or become more specialized by focusing on arts marketing, fundraising, community engagement.

           I decided to pursue a degree in arts administration after performing in the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, FL, while studying at the University of Central Florida. With my background being in music, I knew that I wanted to work in a performing arts center in any way that I could. This, combined with the advocacy efforts at UCF for a performance hall for the College of Music, made me realize that I wanted to make this a career. At the end of my undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance from Florida International University, I researched the next step in my career path. I found out that Florida State University is the only university in the state and possibly the country, that offers an arts administration master’s degree through the College of Music. This unique offering prioritizes the experience of being a musician – that continuing to pursue the art is essential to understanding the intersection of art and administration.

           FSU offers a master’s and a doctorate in arts administration, and if you are interested in possibly pursuing a career in the field, I have just the right books for you. Below are my five picks to get you started. These books can all be applied to the arts administration field and focus on different areas. Nonetheless, they are the top books on my reading list, and if you’re interested in a career in arts administration, they should be on yours too.

The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida

This book, written by Richard Florida, discusses the emergence of a social class that is transforming the 21st-century’s geography, economy, and workplaces. Consisting of doctors, musicians, and architects alike, the creative class shapes our cities and how people are choosing to live toward a creative lifestyle. I love this book because it has influenced my decisions about where I want to end up post-graduation and what the audiences in those areas will possibly look like. This book is available at Leon County Public Library.

The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations, by Michael Kaiser

Author Michael M. Kaiser speaks from experience as he describes his ten rules to running a thriving arts organization. The book focuses on leadership, fiscal management, marketing, fundraising, programming, and much more. After reviving the Kansas City Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, and London’s Royal Opera House, Kaiser looks to these four major organizations as case studies for his ten rules. As the former President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Kaiser also adds an extra chapter about his insight gained working at the United State’s National Cultural Center. This book is available at FSU Libraries.

Designing Experiences by J. Robert Rossman and Mathew D. Duerden

I initially read this book as part of a research assignment and realized that the concepts could apply to many different areas. Whether you work in a concert hall, a theater, or an art museum, making sure that your audiences have a memorable experience is critical. Many scientific tidbits are thrown in about what turns an event into an experience and what features cement these experiences into people’s memories. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in programming, event management, or fundraising. If you want to learn about how to host an experience from start to finish, this book is for you. This book is available in FSU libraries.

The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and A.I., by Carlos Gil

Marketing is my first love of arts administration. Walking into the degree, I was unsure which areas I was drawn to – until I went to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference last fall. After hearing Carlos Gil speak at the conference, I knew I needed this book. Right away, it has useful tips on how to make meaningful connections through your social media brand and resources to find online to help you through your marketing endeavors. Gil includes tons of pop culture references too, which is refreshing and relatable. Whether you are just getting started in marketing or have been around the block, you can find something new in this book. It is too new to find at any library but is fairly affordable on Amazon.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John C. Maxwell

This leadership book is a million-copy, best-selling staple that, honestly, everyone should read. This book is not specific to the arts, but its concepts are extremely valuable in learning how to lead, even if you are not in a “leadership” position. The 21 laws inside are concise and specific. I recommend taking notes while reading this one because you will want to remember these life-changing tips. I recommend reading the revised & updated version for the most up to date research. Available at Leon County Public Libraries

P.S. If you are searching for a new podcast, I highly recommend CI to Eye (pronounced See Eye To Eye) by Capacity Interactive. They are an arts marketing consulting firm based in New York. They are giving their expertise and the advice of the art’s administrative professionals in the field to you FOR FREE. Check them out on Spotify or Apple!




Courtney Normandin is an intern at MoFA and a student at FSU pursuing her master’s degree in arts administration under the College of Music. She is from Miami, FL, and got her undergraduate degree in jazz performance on trumpet from Florida International University. Courtney hopes to work in a non-profit performing arts center’s marketing department after graduation, but art museums, science museums, and zoos are not off the table. Courtney describes herself as an arts advocate, jazz enthusiast, and book geek.