I'm not writing today to talk you into or out of applying for a graduate program in arts administration. I could espouse either side at length.
I would like to tell you, though, my personal most important lesson learned from graduate school.
Keep Asking Questions.
As time- and people- and resource- strapped arts organization administrators, we get caught in the mundane tasks of answering daily business questions. Did the press release get written? Did last week's box office receipts get deposited? Did we ever look into that children's programming?
Graduate school gives an arts administrator space to ask bigger questions. Questions like:
--Why do it this way?
--What came before that I can learn from?
--Why isn't there [insert idea here]?
--What happens if we don't do [insert action here]?
--the 5 Whys (my personal anathema but so so helpful)
Mundane questions require a yes or a no; answers that don't necessarily lead anywhere (unless there happen to be severe negative consequences).
Graduate school (the good ones, anyway) set up space for the provocative questions, whose answers could potentially shift not only a particular student's course of life, but the very foundation on which our arts world sits. We never know where the next Nancy Hanks or Hallie Flanagan may come from.
I did not graduate with all the arts admin solutions. All I have are more questions, and a daily desire to live into the answers.