Managing in culture markets: a specific education
Published on 01/26/2023
Published on 01/26/2023
No matter how the markets are or how the creativity influences the way that sector’s professionnals function, cultural and creative industries do not operate like any other. They require specific training.
THE DUALITY OF CULTURAL INDUSTRIES
“Art exists to nourish the soul and lift the spirit. Throughout my life, I’ve needed to be surrounded by art and consume it in all its forms”. This statement from Lucie Carette (MiM 13) embodies the quintessential uniqueness of the cultural sector where works of art from all domains are fundamentally products, objects for consumption, but consumption for the spirit.
It is not surprising in this case that the cultural industry stands a part, including the jobs found in it. This particularity is well understood at NEOMA BS, which prepares its students to enter this sector by fostering their versatility, analytical abilities and extensive understanding of different arts as well as the discussion taking place in society.
This could seem obvious and yet no one works in the creative and cultural industries (CCI) by accident. You need to be passionate about art to work in the sector, much like Lucie Carette, director of Villa Albertine in Los Angeles and audiovisual assistant to the Consulate General of France, who “has always had a craving for culture” and for whom pursuing a career in the CCIs is a testament to this desire.
Director of visitor outreach at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris, Isabelle Rouls (MiM 90) entered the cultural sector after working for fifteen years in marketing for other sectors of activity. It wasn’t immediately clear for her, but she had the desire. “To work in customer relations in a meaningful sector that has a societal component”. “When you come work in the cultural industries, it’s because you have a passion for it”, Valentin Crépain (MiM 18) said.
PRODUCTS WITH TWO VALUES
Sébastien Dubois understands this phenomenon well. At NEOMA BS, he developed and now heads the Creative and Cultural Industries master’s programme, where the courses, taught in English, impart essential concepts for preparing students to enter this unique market. In particular, the professor explains that “cultural products are specific when compared with other products because their value is assessed on two different levels, one being artistic and the other economic. The two values that do not always overlap”.
Even if Isabelle Rouls admits that “in the past fifteen years, things have changed, and now everyone pays attention to customer relations”, CCIs are also organised around this duality. This is particularly clear in the publishing sector, as Salomé Sanchez (MiM 14), management controller in charge of copyrights for Seuil Publishing, explains. “Publishing is a cultural industry that holds a unique position in that it does not focus solely on profitability. Certain books will generate high sales, which allow the publishing of books with small print runs. A balance needs to be found between popular books and others that are, for example, published for academic audiences”.
The budget balances are so difficult to find that “the protection of literary and artistic books and the remuneration for their production involves complying with a very specific legal framework”, Salomé Sanchez said. Even if these rules are necessary, they complicate even more questions of money in the culture. Moreover, “you can have a career in culture, but you will not gain much financially from it. It’s not the main motivation”, Isabell Rouls said.
Regardless of the money, the sector’s duality continues to make itself felt. Lucie Carette mentions that the audiovisual field as an example that “is a very multifaceted landscape with a lot of small organisations and niches”, that can coexist with behemoths like Disney and Netflix.
A PUBLIC DIMENSION
In the same way, in an artistic sector, two markets can coexist with different business logics. Again, returning to the audiovisual domain, Lucie Carette explains the difference between the U.S. and France. “In the United States, only private funding exists, which requires a return on investment. In France and Europe, the industry by contrast is largely subsidised by the government, which opens the doors to much greater diversity and plurality because everything that is produced is not just subject to the law of the market. That leads to a fundamental difference!”
When you say public funding, you mean public usefulness, which is even more the case for an organisation in the cultural sector, as Isabell Rouls can attest to, whose role consists of “finding the means to ‘attract’, to structure the offer so as to make it more readable for different audiences and guarantee a high-quality visitor experience for all kinds of visitors”. Thus, in a museum like Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, “one of the most important parts of our work in serving the public is what we do for schools. Generally, the venue at the museum is adult oriented because they’ve established the habit of visiting museums as a child. There are also things we set up and do for audiences that have difficulty accessing the cultural offer, especially for sociological reasons”, she said.
To respond to the concern over consumption and public engagement, institutions like museums or operas must be able to adapt to their audience. Jacqueline Siye Wang (MSc AM 14), who is in charge of relations with Europe in the international artistic exchanges department at the National Performing Arts Centre in Beijing, said, “each market will have a different audience. In my job, I have to understand the global market and understand what the audiences in European venues like, why the public likes this or that composer, and the reasons for the programming choices. In particular, the different operas also have a duty to engage with children, and we have to find a way to communicate with them in the same manner that we have to communicate with other institutions”.
VERSATILITY, A KEY SKILL
Knowing how to communicate with other organisations is the key to being able to set up international partnerships that are appropriate for all audiences. To do this, Jacqueline Siye had to expand her horizons, which she learned to do at NEOMA. “I had my composers and my favourite operas, but my professors encouraged me to open up to other things”, another culture so to speak, and through that, become more versatile, a skill that can be used every day. “Culture is a very diverse sector. For an opera, I may have to communicate with singers, members of the choir, people working on the stage decorations, government departments, etc.”
This ability to communicate with all the players on the same chain is what Jean de Rivières (MiM 94) also uses at his job as executive producer and senior vice-president of development at Ubisoft. “We are entrusted with the task of developing films, TV series and theme parks for the franchise universes of Ubisoft video games. I work with experts and when it’s a matter of putting all the pieces together, I’m comfortable with the task thanks to my general business training”, he said.
Today’s NEOMA students have the chance to be taught this same general versatility, while benefiting from in-depth studies of the different artistic sectors. “We had courses on all the different cultural identities, whether they be on the performing arts, pictorial art, the filmmaking industry or publishing, which was great. For example, when you want to work in the audiovisual field, you can ask yourself how the skills in publishing would help, but those skills will be very useful for everything involving book adaptation”, said Hugo Morata (MiM18), commercial and pedagogic manager at The Media Faculty, which offers training for CCI professionals.
The versatility gained from the training is also useful to Valentin Crépain on a daily basis. “I work for a multi-disciplinary artist, and the variety of sectors of activity that I encountered when I did my master’s helps me every day. I worked on two films made by JR, and the film industry courses helped me a lot. My performing arts courses helped me with project management and JR’s installations around the world. I worked with almost all those subjects!” the studio coordinator said.
PROFESSIONALS ACTING AS A TECHNICAL GUARANTEE
“To work in CCIs, you must understand the particularities of the products and cultural markets, which means having an excellent general cultural education on art history and past and contemporary aesthetic and artistic movements, so you can analyse and understand why such a cultural product succeeds or fails”, Sébastien Dubois said.
Since the master is centred on the arts, we try to explain how the artistic fields work and give students examples from all areas, past and present, from the Impressionists to independent cinema and hip-hop”. The aim is thus to provide versatility as well as a certain level of technical understanding. The best way to achieve this double objective is to have professionals from the sector contribute to the courses.
Lucie Carette, for example, taught courses at NEOMA from 2017 to 2019. “I gave courses on cinema financing, the public aids and programmes in place for supporting creativity. When I was attending school, I found the discussions and meetings with professionals to be inspiring because I saw the range of possible jobs out there. It’s important to come in and be an example of what’s out there”, she said.
Like Lucie Carette before him, Hugo Morata appreciated the courses with professionals, particularly the one with Yarone Maman (MiM 10), who today is a director of development at France.tv Studio. “In one week, he taught us to make a series in small groups with a balanced blend of theory and practice. This stirred in me an intense, motivating interest to work in the audiovisual industry when I first thought I would aim for the art market. It made me change tack, and I said to myself that maybe I would go into production”. Today, in addition to his functions at The Media Faculty, Hugo also created a production company that helped a short film secure a spot at the Nikon Film Festival.
“The students learn the essential management tools when they arrive in my specialisation Master”, Sébastien Dubois said. “I have to give them the skills needed to work in cultural sectors, technical skills like how to draw up a budget for a film or a festival and also teach them how to integrate into the world of culture, find a job, develop their career, etc. The cultural sectors have their own ways of social organisation and recruitment. You cannot go through the traditional challenges of recruitment, but through special ones, like profilculture.com. You need to be more proactive and use social media”, and show that you’re rigorous, Hugo Morata would add.
For him, the two keys to success in the CCIs are “knowledge of the sector: you need to know everything about your segment” and “discipline, a dividing line between the people who succeed quickly in this sector and everyone else”.
ART RESONATING WITH SOCIETY
For Jean de Rivières, another key to professional success in the CCIs is the ability to “understand the echo phenomena. To make a film succeed, you need to create a debate within society. It needs to be the pretext for a much larger discussion”. Sébastien Dubois also understands this and seeks to integrate it into the curriculum of the CCI master.
“Cultural industries are very globalised markets, which at the same time have a vital cultural identity for a society. You inevitably touch upon social and political questions, so students need to have the ability for in-depth analysis. Therefore, for pedagogical purposes, I require them to do a certain number of essays so they can show that they can construct an informed and persuasive discussion on a complex question”.
This concept is also used for the theme of a work and understanding the sector in itself. “It’s a fantastic time to enter the sector”, Jean de Rivières said. “We’ve never before had such a desire for culture and it has never been so accessible”. Not to mention the mix of podcasts, series (which are always popular) or the creation of new physical spaces to present a new angle on a work. He knows what he’s talking about since he has to develop, for example, the theme parks connected with Ubisoft universe.
On this point the CCIs also reflect society, since the changes society is going through will surely have an impact on artistic creation. The impact of the pandemic on cinema attendance is still a concern today. “If people do not come back to the cinema, we cannot finance the same films. The question to ask today is what the new business models will be”, Lucie Carette said.
It also shows that the sector is full of opportunities and once again has this duality of cultural products, which sits at the crossroads between consumable goods and food for the soul.
Article appeared in the Alumni magazine no. 33