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  • Prof. Damodaran’s book ‘Managing Arts in times of Pandemics and Beyond’ sees global launch

    Published on July 6, 2022

    The book, with a focus on management issues in the world of arts, deals with how arts organizations have embraced digital network technologies to cope with pandemics and how they will continue to do so, aided by the Metaverse

    Bengaluru: IIM Bangalore hosted the launch of the book titled, ‘Managing Arts in times of Pandemics and Beyond’, authored by Prof. A Damodaran of the Economics & Social Sciences area of the institute, last evening.

    The book, published by Oxford University Press, has eight chapters and seeks to approach arts organizations in India and abroad from a management perspective, against the backdrop of COVID-19 and in the light of the advancements made by digital technologies such as blockchain. It follows a deep dive approach by taking a closer look at eight arts organizations from USA, Canada, Japan, India and Russia.

    A special chapter is devoted to the cultural and arts policies of India, USA, Japan, Canada and Russia. The chapter on economics seeks to apply the principles of managerial economics to arts organizations. Also discussed is a methodological approach for classifying arts organizations in terms of their organizational processes. The book can be of immense utility to both serving and prospective managers of arts organizations.

    Prof. Damodaran said he wrote the first chapter in 2019 but completed it during the pandemic with a big change in ideas.  “The focus is unmistakably on management – on management issues in the world of arts – fine arts, visual arts and performing arts. I found out how they coped with the pandemic with streaming, social media etc. It is admirable to find that today they have more than one revenue stream.” Describing it as a futuristic management handbook, Prof. Damodaran said it looks at an interface between policy, technology and management.

    Prof. Chetan Subramanian, Dean, Faculty, IIMB, welcomed the global audience and moderated the panel discussion that followed the book launch. “Prof. Damodaran’s book is both accessible and extremely engrossing. It is very useful for managers who want to learn how the world of arts works. Importantly, the book focuses on how digital technology can be a great disruptor,” he said, adding that the book introduces one to several interesting ideas.

    In his opening remarks, Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore, lauded Prof. Damodaran’s work in the domain of arts and culture and described the book as a “culmination of the efforts over the years”. He said the book provided a variety of contexts to show how institutions working in arts and culture can manage change. He welcomed the expert panellists, too.

    The launch was followed by a panel discussion featuring Adoor Gopalakrishnan, film director and Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner; Benoit Prefontaine, Consul General of Canada in Bangalore; Prof. Leah Lowthorp, anthropologist, University of Oregon, USA; Sharon Lowen, classical dancer and writer; Prof. Jayanta Sengupta, historian and Director, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, and Prof. Hajime Sato, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan.

    Paying tribute to the panellists, Prof. Damodaran said he has learnt a lot from all of them.

    In his remarks, Shri Adoor Gopalakrishnan said the book is “thoroughly researched” and “authentic”. He said it would be a great resource for managers and people in the world of arts. He added that he hoped Prof. Damodaran would do another book on cinema and management. “Those managing arts organizations must be well versed and enlightened in the arts,” he said, remarking that mismanagement can destroy an art form be it cinema or the performing arts.

    “Useful read for govts, too”

    Benoit Prefontaine, Consul General of Canada in Bangalore, said though he is neither an artiste nor a scholar but read the book as an economist and career diplomat/ civil servant whose mission is to make all forms of arts and culture accessible and affordable through international dissemination. “Countries recognise arts and culture as an important part of foreign policy. However, the last few years, marked by the pandemic, showed us the possibilities that technology can provide in making arts and culture accessible and affordable to the masses. Arts and culture are big business, no doubt, but they are also more than that. In Canada’s case, I can say, very many of our performers were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Only those who had access to technology could survive; the rest had to depend on government support. It has been a hard time over the last two years with galleries and museums also closed. The book addresses such concerns and is relevant to artistes and governments as it explores solutions.”

    Prof. Leah Lowthorp said the book turned an economic eye to the world of arts and arts organizations. On the subject of irregular funding/ grants, she said many times artistes pawn their belongings to get by in difficult times. “The book looks at addressing such concerns.”

    Call for pro bono support

    Dancer and writer Sharon Lowen said the book took her back to the early 70s when management was part of her master’s program in USA. “But when I came to India, I had to forget everything because everything here, in the world of arts, was so different! Now, things are slowly changing. My takeaway from the book is that arts organizations must have strategic planning so that they do not flounder. Small arts organisations need legal and management pro bono assistance as they are swimming in waters that they are all drowning in!”

    In a tongue-in-cheek reference to what she called the “YouTube gharana”, she said that no one can master an art form through just a few videos, and pointed out that she did intense preparation for the 29 choreographies that she did on zoom, during the pandemic. “I have learnt how to use technology when I offer my workshops and performances to the world.”

    Historian Dr. Jayanta Sengupta said it was wonderful that IIMB had created an academic culture that gives us books like ‘Managing the Arts’. “Over the last few decades, the concept of heritage as it relates to arts and culture has seen an enormous change. Unfortunately, management has yet to find its rightful place in this huge change. We, in India, hear a lot that arts and culture are an important part of our identity but we are yet to integrate management into the domain of heritage/ arts and culture. The book by Prof. Damodaran can help us address the challenges faced by the world of arts during the pandemic as it provides a roadmap for smaller arts organizations to secure their future.”

    Prof. Hajime Sato, from Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, said he first met Prof. Damodaran 20 years ago as an economist but learnt quickly that his colleague from India was very well versed and enlightened in the arts, including Kabuki – a classical form of Japanese dance-drama. 

    Prof. Chetan Subramanian then invited Prof. Damodaran to elaborate on the skillsets required by a manager in arts organizations, with specific reference to Metaverse. “Metaverse is a logical extension of the block chain revolution. Metaverse is an opportunity to do things in an alternative universe – a virtual world where you are an ‘avatar’ and see what you are doing in that space which you can create. It is vicarious economics and the place where new creations and adaptions can thrive,” replied Prof. Damodaran, adding that Metaverse can be run by money in the form of crypto currencies ,both fungible and non-fungible. “Metaverse creates new frontiers of imagination but it needs a web free world to really take off. Initially, I suspect, many artistes may find this  ecosystem artificial but they are sure to find it very beneficial.”

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