Arts and Culture Strategy

Arts and culture leaders have a rewarding but tough task: creating sustainable organizations that deliver real social value. There is a lot of competition out there. Being an effective leader means constantly adapting, cleverly using the best tools to reach as many people as possible. This course is designed to help leaders at any level do just that.

About The Course

During the course, we will combine an overview of the field and management theory with specific skills and exercises that will help you develop as a leader.  We will talk about the value of the arts, about the unique challenges of running mission driven organizations and about how to assess and adapt to the environment in which you are working.  We will deal with important measures of organizational performance – how to be sure you are succeeding – and we will look at ways of designing effective business models that help you deliver on mission.

This course is rigorous and the result of an exciting partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies.  We want to help you be a better leader, because we believe that strong leadership in the arts benefits us all. 

This course is intended to help you to:

  • Define value and mission
  • Understand your environment and how best to compete and collaborate
  • Understand your business models
  • Understand organizational performance
  • Understand the role of the leader
  • Cultivate your personal view of the role arts and culture play in society, the value they create and how to effectively communicate to those both in and outside the field. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes this course uniquely designed for the arts and cultural sector?

National Arts Strategies (NAS) and Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) have worked together to build a course specifically to serve the global arts and culture sector. This partnership provides the unique combination of a world-class university and an organization with a deep understanding of the intricacies of leading and managing nonprofits and of the field.

Do you have to be a professional in the field to take this course?


What background is required of participants?

Participants should have work experience and a strong affinity for arts and culture. There are no formal prerequisites. 

What is the format of the class?

This course will be a combination of weekly video lectures with short exercise assignments and readings.  

What are the readings for the course and where are they available? 

Freely available readings will be assigned for each course session.

Will I receive a certificate or statement of completion for completing the class?

Yes. Participants who complete the requirements at a 75% level will receive a statement of accomplishment. Please see the Course Overview section for more details.

Do I need to watch the lectures live?

No. You can watch the lectures at your own convenience.

How much does it cost to take the course?

The course is free. When assigned, readings will be available through links on the internet. 

Recommended Background

Participants should have work experience and a strong affinity for arts and culture. There are no formal prerequisites.