From the Desk Of: Eugene Marlow
Two Film Festival Honors for “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht: A Family Story” DVD

Zikkaron/Kristallnacht Remembrance of Kristallnacht DVD by Eugene MarlowOFFICIAL SELECTION-Paris Independent Film Festival-2021Nominee-London Indie Short Festival-September 2021Dr. Eugene Marlow’s documentary short “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht: A Family Story” was selected for showing at the October 18-24, 2021 Paris Independent Film Festival. It was also nominated for selection by the London Indie Short Festival.

Professor Marlow is a faculty member of the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at the Weissman School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Baruch College, City University of New York.

Other Honors

  • CUNY-TV aired the documentary in March 2020 as part of its “Short Docs” series.
  • 2017 New York Short Films Tuesdays Film Festival selected it for screening.
  • Awarded the 2016 John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in the Field of Media Ecology by the Media Ecology Association.

About “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht: A Family Story”

This nine-minute documentary short describes the events of November 9-10, 1938 all over Germany and parts of Austria when, on the pretext of the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris, the Nazis destroyed thousands of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, synagogues, and homes.

The word “Kristallnacht” means “The Night of Broken Glass,” a reference to the shards of broken glass, a result of the destruction. “Kristallnacht” is considered the beginning of what resulted in the Holocaust.

The events of Kristallnacht” are told from producer Dr. Eugene Marlow’s maternal family’s perspective. They were present in Leipzig, Germany, during the event.  His Aunt Ruth (nee Landesberg) who was a child at the time of Kristallnacht, narrates the video. The video contains dozens of historical photographs and film. An original music score was composed and performed by Dr. Marlow and his quintet The Heritage Ensemble.

Generous support for this was project was provided by a PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York.

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“Jazz in China” What they’re saying. . .

Jazz In ChinaThe documentary Jazz in China was an official event of International Jazz Day, April 30, 2021 where it was available for viewing for 24 hours.

Here are early reviews of the              76-minute documentary:


Robin Bell-Stevens, Director and Executive Producer of New York City’s Jazzmobile

“Fantastic documentary!”
Gary Lowe, Jazz Music Director and Producer, WUNH-FM 91.3

“Inspired and inspiring! Academy-award winning for sure! Bravo, Bravissimo! What a topic! So well-done! Major reminder that WE ARE ALL ONE!”
Barbara Glasser

“Just watched the Jazz in China documentary with rapt attention.  Absolutely amazing, absorbing.  It’s a valuable contribution. It really captures the main issues and cultural factors.  I know there’s a lot of wonderful stuff on the cutting floor, as well, but you’ve done a great job of pulling it all together. Bravo.”
David Moser, Ph.D., Academic Director
CET Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University

“Well, that was a pleasure. Great subject, great characters and a really impressive piece of work.
Well done. Congratulations.”
Paul Thompson, Professor, Film & Television, New York University

“I thoroughly enjoyed Jazz In China. It was both a seldom known history and a heartening reminder that jazz is embraced the world over, by young and old alike.”
Wesley J. Watkins, IV, Ph.D.
Founder, The Jazz & Democracy Project®

“Absolutely awesome! What a wonderful documentary!”
Richard Lalime, F.S.C.

“I was really impressed with the historical details shared and I loved the music. Thank you for introducing me to this! I am excited to see the future of Jazz!”
Stacey Kelly

Click here to Watch “Jazz in China” Trailer

“What a fabulous documentary. Loved the vintage footage, the history, but most of all, loved the music and the musicians featured. A real joy. Thank you.”
Sandy Carp, History Teacher (Ret.)

“Wow, so much fascinating material. I thought the contemporary interviews were powerful and memorable, e.g., ‘Jazz isn’t freedom. Jazz is responsibility.’ That will stay with me a long time. I hope this film gets the recognition it deserves.”
Joshua Mills, Professor & Chair,
Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions, Baruch College, CUNY

“Congratulations! It’s quite an accomplishment!”
Briana Whyte Harris (playwright)

“There are a few western authors and academics, but mostly it’s the musicians themselves. . .we get to see many clips of each of them at their instruments in various venues. It is beautifully collected . . . Bravissimo.”
Robert Barry Francos

“Congratulations! Jazz In China was extraordinary! All research, interviewees, archival film footage are amazing!”
Ellen B. Stern

“Great job with the documentary! Is there a way to show it to my students?”
Ben Lapidus, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Justice

“I found it informative on the history of jazz in China. Thought the cinematography was super.”
Colette Desbas

“My husband and I thought you did a wonderful job – it was informative and engaging.  We had no idea about the evolution of jazz in China. Congratulations!”
Sue Holt/Fleisher

The Jazz In China Documentary was also:

  • Referenced in the South China Morning Post April 28, 2021
  • Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) profiled Dr. Eugene Marlow
    and the documentary April 29, 2021
  • Referenced in the Jazz Journal (United Kingdom) April 30, 2021
  • Listed as an official event of International Jazz Day, April 30, 2021

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A Guide to “Zoomiquette”

Zoom LogoMarlowsphere (Blog #152)

In the early days of the World Wide Web (introduced to the planet in 1989 by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee) its ability to allow people all over the planet to e-mail each other 24/7 quickly became a characteristic of the communications landscape. And as with all new technologies, “standards” for the use of the Internet, à la email, soon gave way to certain “rules” of use. It became known as “Netiquette.”

Today, the new technological “thing” to do is “to Zoom.” The advent of COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the use of the platform (it was officially released on January 25, 2013). Its stock is now resting somewhere in the range of $250/share. No wonder. It has 200 million users daily.

It also has competitors: Amazon Chime, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts Meet, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, and Signal. But like the “Kleenex” brand, “Zooming” has become the generic term for using the Internet for “electronic gatherings.”

Although not the first electronic technology to allow aural and visual communications among people, with this platform’s explosive growth has come the need for certain standards of use. Why? Zooming is really broadcast and cable television in an organizational and personal context. These above mentioned electronic media have evolved visual and aural “standards” over many decades. People have certain expectations as to how television should look and sound. It makes for more effective communication.

So, below I offer a few tips to the emerging “Zoomiquette” so one can maximize his/her appearance to have the best communication experience possible.

Avoid the guillotined look1. Avoid the “guillotined” look. How many times have you observed a participant on a Zoom call whose head is just above the bottom part of the screen looking like they just became another victim of the French Revolution? The guillotined look is not very becoming.

Solution: The video production standard is to divide the screen into three imaginary sections: a top third, a middle third, and a bottom third. A person’s eyes should be on the bottom line that defines the top third of the screen. This way the other participants will see that the head is actually connected to a body, at least the neck and shoulders. You can accomplish this by simply adjusting the angle of the screen of the laptop.


2. Prevent the “heavenly lighting” look. This is a classic error of even people who are in the media production business. The Prevent "Heavenly Lighting Look"problem occurs when someone on a Zoom call has a bright light behind them instead of in front of them or even to the side. This is seen often when someone sets up their laptop with day light streaming through a window behind them. The cameras installed in laptops respond to the brightest spot in the picture. With this setup the camera looks at the bright light and says “OK. I’ll adjust everything to that bright light!” The result is the person’s face goes dark. They might look like they have a halo around their head, but no one can see their face.

Solution: Avoid having a window or a bright light behind you. Position the laptop so that the window or bright light is in front of you.


I just love the paint on your ceiling3. “I just love the paint on your ceiling.” Here’s another pitfall. People place their laptop on a table that’s below their own line of sight (in a few instances it’s above their line of sight and everyone gets a shot of someone’s floor). As a result, the laptop camera is looking up at the participant and we also get a glimpse of the person’s ceiling.

Solution: Position the laptop screen so that it’s level with your eyes.


4. “If I knew you were coming, I would have straightened up a bit.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of people to hunker down at home. Now Zoom has come into the home. In effect, your home has become a television studio, or at least a “If I knew you were coming, I would have straightened up a bit.”video location. Find a location for your Zoom meetings that present you in a semi-professional setting. I’m sure you’ve noticed that many reporters, experts, and pundits have chosen a place in their home that looks like a library, i.e., there are books in the background.

Solution: avoid setting up your location against a blank wall. Chose a place where’s there’s something of interest in the background. Often it’s a bookcase or something that reflects who you are. Be aware not to have anything distracting, or too personal, like family photos, or anything offensive in the background.


Just Say No to Vertical Video5. “Just say no to vertical video.” A minority of “Zoomers” use their phone to access the Zoom platform, but in-so-doing they position their phone in the same way they use it for other purposes: they hold it vertically. The result is a column visual effect, rather than the horizontal picture characteristic of laptop users. By holding the smartphone vertically the user creates blank bookends on both sides of the vertical picture in the middle.

Solution: Turn the smartphone 90 degrees to ether the left or the right. Tada! Now you have a horizontal picture with no black on any sides.


6. “Are you experiencing an earthquake?”  Often when using the smartphone to Zoom the user holds it in his/her hands or Are you experiencing an earthquake?walks around with it causing the picture to be in constant motion. This is very disconcerting for other viewers on the meeting with concentration and focus.

Solution: Before the meeting find a place to sit comfortably. Then find something to prop the phone up against such as a couple of books or take a look at these 10 DIY smartphone stand ideas.  If none of these work for you invest in one of the many smartphone stands on the market.


7. “There’s an echo, echo, echo. . .”There’s an echo, echo, echo. . .” Why do some participants sound like they’re in an echo chamber? The location you choose for your Zoom meeting is not only about how you look, it’s also about how you sound. A room that has things on the wall or behind you will allow your voice to sound more round and warm. An empty room will have you sound like you’re in an echo chamber.

Solution: choose your Zoom location carefully for both how you look and sound.  Choose a room that has carpeting and/or substantial items in it to avoid the echo effect. If necessary, add items to the room that you use. Be sure to place them in “off-camera” areas of the room.


8. “Can you hear me now?” We’ve all experienced someone’s audio level getting louder and softer as they speak. Participating in a Zoom meeting doesn’t have the same 8 Can you hear me nowaural effect as sitting around a conference table with colleagues in the same room. If you keep leaning back and forth or from side to side, this changes the distance between your voice and the microphone in the top part of your laptop screen.

Solution: Keep yourself pretty much in one position near the microphone when you’re talking during a Zoom call.


9.“Do you have to touch your face all the time?” Participating in a Zoom call reverses the usual speaker audience environment. Not only are you looking at the audience looking at you, but you are also looking at yourself. Presuming everyone Do you have to touch your face all the time?keeps their “video” option on, you’re also looking at how people scratch their nose, fidget, close their eyes, yawn, and do dozens of other non-verbal things people do when not talking (or even when talking). It’s a sociology exercise in observing how people behave non-verbally.

Solution: Be actively aware of your non-verbal behavior and to how others are reacting to what you say.


The reality is this: a Zoom meeting is not merely “the next best thing to being there.” A Zoom meeting is not just a formal (or in some cases an informal meeting) via electronic means. Inherently, a Zoom meeting is a video event and as such should be approached with a sense of “standards” if it is to be a fruitful meeting. Remember, Zoom meetings can be recorded by the meeting host, even a family meeting.

Sure, Zoom has enabled millions of people to communicate with each other all over the world where there is Internet access. Keep in mind, however, perceptions to the contrary, that only about 54% of the people on the planet have Internet access. So, in a very meaningful way, Zoom allows a little more than half of the world’s populace to stay in touch in the age of COVID.

This aside, “Zooming” will continue as an effective communications medium for the foreseeable future. Moreover, the concept is not new. Teleconferencing and tele-commuting has been around for at least 40 years, but now that laptops with built-in cameras and microphones are as ubiquitous as cellphones and smartphones, this new environment creates a demand for proper use. Practice Zoomiquette whenever the opportunity arises and you’ll have a better communications experience.

Eugene Marlow, Ph.D., MBA © 2020

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How Old is Multimedia?

Sociologist William Fielding OgburnThe Marlowsphere (Blog #149)

It is a truism that laws more often than not lag behind cultural customs especially in times of change, to which we could add in times of rapid technological change. Sociologist William Fielding Ogburn (1896-1959) posited in 1922, for example, the difference between “material culture” and “adjustment culture.” The former refers to technology, the latter to the often lagging response to technological change on the part of members of a culture and its cultural institutions. In other words, technology is the primary engine of progress, i.e., change, and it takes time for people and institutions to catch up to the changes and characteristics new technology brings, especially when it comes to terms and definitions.

In academia adjustments to technological change with respect to programs, courses, and especially terms are more often than not “behind the curve,” never in front of it. Often, there is a tendency to grab on to a new technology well after it has been embraced by early adopters and to describe “new” courses with terms gleaned from the popular media without much aforethought.

I have observed this from direct experience.

In 1988 the Journalism Program at Baruch College (City University of New York) invited me to create and teach courses in video field production and radio news. I was the first professor in the program with a print and electronic media background based on my recently acquired Ph.D. and experience in video and radio production.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inventor of the World Wide WebIn reality, I was hired because the Speech Department (now the Department of Communication Studies) had initiated a course in “Corporate Video” and the Director of the Journalism Program (then a part of the Department of English) didn’t want to be outdone! In other words, inter-departmental competition motivated my being hired. Mind you, this was 1988, a year before (now Sir) Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web which, in turn, began the slow but inexorable demise of print journalism. So, in some small measure, the then director of the journalism program (a full professor with a Ph.D. in English Literature, now retired) can be forgiven for not having a crystal ball to peek into the future.

It was not until 2007 (19 years after my hiring) that the department hired a second professor with expertise in electronic journalism. Her specialty was “multimedia journalism.” And it was only until 2016 and 2017 that a third and fourth professor with print and electronic journalism credentials were hired. The latest addition to the faculty has deep experience in podcasting. That’s four professors out of 11 full-time professors in 29 years, even though in this same period the world of journalism had moved inexorably to a greater reliance on visualization (video) and orality (podcasting) via the computer.

There was progress, however. The (now) Department of Journalism introduced a course in “Advanced Multimedia Journalism” following the establishment of a course in “Multimedia Journalism” which I also taught. There’s now two courses in podcasting.

A couple of years ago we were in the throes of a self-review in response to periodic accreditation requirements. One of the department’s “learning goals” (originally formulated in 2013) dealt with “multimedia.” My reaction to reading this learning goal was to immediately feel how out of date and mis-defined it seemed. It had been articulated in 2013 by a professor with no “electronic journalism” experience to speak of. This prompted me to look into the technical definition and history of the term “multimedia.” My search taught me again that all things have antecedents and confirmed that academia is usually behind the curve.

I discovered the “concept” and “term” multimedia is about 60 years old! Yes, it’s that old and it predates the advent of the personal computer. It’s also another example of what’s old is new again.

Bob Goldstein, SingerAccording to several sources, the term multimedia was coined by singer and artist Bob Goldstein (later ‘Bobb Goldsteinn’) to promote the July 1966 opening of his “LightWorks at L’Oursin” show at Southampton, Long Island. Goldstein was perhaps aware of an American artist named Dick Higgins, who had in 1964 discussed a new approach to art-making he called “intermedia.”

A month later, on August 10, 1966, Richard Albarino of Variety borrowed the terminology, reporting: “Brainchild of songscribe-comic Bob (‘Washington Square’) Goldstein, the ‘Lightworks’ is the latest multi-media music-cum-visuals to debut as discothèque fare.”

But wait! There’s more. Two more years later, in 1968, the term “multimedia” was re-appropriated to describe the work of a political consultant, David Sawyer, the husband of Iris Sawyer—one of Goldstein’s producers at L’Oursin.

The original meaning of “multimedia” kept evolving. In my 1995 book Winners! Producing Effective Electronic Media (Wadsworth Publishing Company) co-authored with "Winners! Producing Effective Electronic Media" by Eugene Marlow & Janice SileoResearch Associate Janice Sileo, in a chapter entitled “Multimedia” we wrote, “The Microsoft Corporation, in a February 1993 Backgrounder, defined computer-based ‘multimedia’ as ‘the integration of text, graphics, audio, video and other types of information. . . .’.” Further, “Clearly, multimedia has evolved from an integration of various digital, electronic, aural, and visual technologies into an interactive medium for use in the home and the office.” Sound familiar? 1993 is 29 years “after” the term was originally coined. Yet some journalism educators use the term and define “multimedia journalism” as if it were invented just a few years ago!

Clearly, the term “multimedia” has been bandied about and used by journalists and professors of journalism who have no concept of its origin or layered meanings. Further, the term “multimedia journalism” is likewise mis-construed. It should be “computer-based journalism” or “digital journalism. “ If used even more correctly, “multimedia” would also refer to film, broadcast and cable television. After all, these communication media combine sound with pictures and graphics and text of all kinds. This is an example of a more recent generation of professionals ignoring the fact that there are always antecedents.

But to ask these folks to appreciate the abovementioned distinctions might be too much. They perceive they’re in the technological vanguard and don’t want to be disturbed in their academic bubble. They haven’t done their homework. They’re in the caboose of a technological train—with a longer history than realized—whose engine is ahead of them.

©Eugene Marlow, Ph.D. 2020

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Is There a Relationship Between Personal Finance Literacy and the Financial Administration of Arts Organizations?

 Marlowsphere (Blog #148)

Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE)


The following blog was delivered by Dr. Eugene Marlow on May 1, 2020 to members of the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) via Zoom for their annual conference.

Alberta Hunter, Blues SingerAccording to a lyric sung by the late blues singer Alberta Hunter “You cain’t have romance without finance.” The same is true in terms of longevity and survival of profit and non-for-profit organizations. More specifically, arts organizations do not exist for very long without effective financial management and financial support from various external sources.

In the United States government organizations at the national and local level are increasingly withdrawing from the role of funding arts institutions. And applicants for funding are finding it increasingly competitive for whatever funding remains available. Yes, the National Endowment for the Arts budget was increased this year and more foundations are getting into the funding role, but no longer can arts organizations take it for granted that monies will be there.

Turtle Bay Music School CLOSEDA case in point: In November 2019 The ​Turtle Bay Music School, held its final artist series concert, the last hurrah of a nearly century old New York City arts institution. A nonprofit on the East Side that partnered with public schools, the school announced in November 2019 it would be forced to close due to a lack of funding.

But there is a deeper issue that is pertinent to the training of arts administrators at the graduate level and it is this: if finances and financial administration is the bedrock foundation of an arts organization, how pertinent is the personal financial literacy of those in charge of the organization? My answer is: very pertinent.

Do You Know Your Net Worth?

At the risk of embarrassing myself, I’m willing to bet 80% of the folks in this audience don’t know what their net worth is. You have little idea what your debt-to-income ratio is or how much you’ll need for retirement if you can afford to retire.

My contention is: if you don’t have a handle on your own personal finances, your long-term debt, or how you’re going to finance your retirement, how can you deal effectively and efficiently with the finances of the arts organization you work for or are connected with, or teach students about arts organization financial matters?

It’s Personal

Why am I so keen on this? The answer is simple and personal. My father, Michael Marlow (nee Spivakowsky) , was an excellent Michael (Spivakowsky) Marlow, Violinist/Violistmusician: a child prodigy on the violin; Taught himself the viola and the mandolin.; Composed music.; Wrote the world’s first concerto for harmonica and symphony orchestra. It’s still being performed today worldwide.; He had his own radio program on the BBC.; Was a Broadway show conductor.; Performed as a member of the orchestra with many notables, including  and Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. But he was lousy when it came to business and finances. He attempted to build his own music publishing company. It failed. He once dreamed of owning a restaurant. It never happened. When he died at the age of 63 of a second heart attack my sister and I learned he didn’t have any life insurance because he didn’t “believe” in life insurance.

I earned an MBA in part because I didn’t want to put myself in the same financial position my father ended up in. I wanted the vocabulary of business as a means of leveling the playing field professionally.

I’ve been involved in the fine and performing arts in various artistic and management capacities since I was born. At Baruch College (City University of New York) I teach and have taught a panoply of courses in media and culture, and business. At every turn I have experienced and observed that where there is a lack of focus on finances, regardless of the quality of the creativity, the enterprise falters. Further, this failure often, if not always, has roots in a key individual’s lack of understanding or appreciation of personal finances.

Personal Finance vs. Organizational Finance

Aye, there’s the rub. There’s no escaping the connection between personal finances and organizational finances.

What is the difference between personal finance and organizational finances? There are, of course, differences in terms of scale and function, but there is at least one major commonality: assets and liabilities.

In the personal finance context an asset could be liquid assets, et al. In the corporate context an asset could be liquid assets, etc. In the personal finance context a liability could be a long-term debt. In the corporate context a liability could also be long-term debt.

In other words, the difference between the personal finance context and the corporate context is scale and function.

Financial Literacy

This all relates to a much larger context and that is global financial literacy. According to a 2014 Financial Literacy Around the World: Insights From The Standard & Poor’s Financial Literacy NotebookRatings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey:

Worldwide, just 1-in-3 adults show an understanding of basic financial concepts. Although financial literacy is higher among the wealthy, well educated, and those who use financial services, it is clear that billions of people are unprepared to deal with rapid changes in the financial landscape. Credit products, many of which carry high interest rates and complex terms, are becoming more readily available. Governments are pushing to increase financial inclusion by boosting access to bank accounts and other financial services but, unless people have the necessary financial skills, these opportunities can easily lead to high debt, mortgage defaults, or insolvency. This is especially true for women, the poor, and the less educated—all of whom suffer from low financial literacy and are frequently the target of government programs to expand financial inclusion.

Further, in the United States, according to this same survey, the financial literacy rate is only 57%. Denmark and Sweden have the highest financial literacy rates at 71%.

In 2019, Investment News reports on an updated Standard & Poor’s survey, as follows:

World Map % of Adults Who Are Not Financially LiterateAlthough the U.S. is the world’s largest economy, the Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey ranks it No. 14 (tied with Switzerland) when measuring the proportion of adults in the country who are financially literate. To put that into perspective: the U.S. adult financial literacy level, at 57%, is only slightly higher than that of Botswana, whose economy is 1,127% smaller.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Treasury entitled Best Practices of Financial Literacy and Education at Institutions of Higher Learning:

With the cost of college rising faster than incomes and a staggering 44 million Americans owing more than $1.5 trillion in student loans, there has been growing concern that students and their families are taking on debt without truly understanding the long-term impact.

Indeed, there is a lot of research exploring this national problem: Nine out of 10 parents and students failed a 2018 quiz about student loan debt. Meanwhile, MarketWatch reported that half of college students taking an AIG survey on personal finance basics got two or fewer questions correct. And in a recent survey from the Brookings Institution, less than 30% of student respondents could correctly answer three questions on inflation, interest and risk diversification.

We must conclude then that to insure student success in arts administration programs as educators we must be certain that these same students are financially literate on a personal level, particularly so because as arts administrators the finances of an arts institution is a vital aspect of the institution’s credibility, viability, and longevity.

The Financial Literacy of the Arts Administrator

To put this another way, if an arts administrator isn’t paying attention to his/her personal finances and doesn’t have a firm grip on his/her net worth assets and liabilities, it Financial Literacywould follow that this same arts administrator is not paying enough attention to the institution’s assets and liabilities?

Now, perhaps this parallelism is not valid. Perhaps the arts administrator is fluent in the institution’s finances and knows the institution’s balance sheet, cash flow, assets and liabilities in great detail. But let’s say this same arts administrator accrues excessive credit card debt, or purchases real estate at the height of a market with a net income to long-term debt ratio that is out of balance and disproportionate. What does this say about this arts administrator’s expertise and skill to manage the institution’s finances? It does not speak well.

The importance of financial issues to arts administrators is nowhere more articulately stated than in the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) Standards for Arts Administration Graduate Program Curricula of November 2014. The opening paragraphs of the “Financial Management” section of the document states:

Financial management is a core function within the management of cultural organizations, and is the framework through which resources–human, physical and financial—are maintained and monitored. In the not-for-profit sector, the balance between mission and money is a key factor in maintaining a sustainable, vibrant and successful organization, and needs to be clearly understood by arts administration students. We recognize that some programs include the teaching of commercial enterprise in the arts; this version of the standards has not yet incorporated standards for those areas of practice.

The document goes on to describe what arts administration students should be able to do with regard to financial matters at the foundational and best practices levels.

The Financial Literacy of Arts Administration Students

The question is: even though students at the undergraduate and graduate level might be adept at dealing with financial matters in the corporate context in the classroom, might not their understanding and appreciation of fiduciary functions have deeper meaning if their own personal finances are in order?

How many students come into an arts administration program with a foundation in either personal or corporate finance? Textbook learning is not as valuable and purposeful as real life learning. It’s one thing to require students to take a course in corporate finance, but it is quite another if students have no real-life background in finance, personal or otherwise. Students might take a corporate finance course and achieve a high grade, but what is this grade based on? An ability to read and abstract financial content from a textbook and feedback on a test, or is the good grade based on a student’s deeper understanding of finances based on “personal” financial experience?

Possible Prescriptions

A possible prescription for this “in the closet issue” is to provide students with a one credit course in personal finance. It does not have to be complex. But its main objective would be to sensitize students to personal financial matters as part of the process and preparation for dealing with institutional financial matters.

Finance Class for Arts AdministratorsAnother solution is to infuse non-financial courses with references to financial matters wherever possible. By doing so, students can begin to relate “personal financial” issues to non-financial course content. Over time, perhaps, students will begin to integrate the “personal” with the “organizational” to everyone’s mutual benefit.

In other words, to borrow and skew a well-worn phrase, charity begins at home. I’m willing to bet that if an arts administrator has a firm handle on his or her own personal finances, the chances are high this same arts administrator is well informed and in control of the institution’s finances. One context informs the other.

It makes sense to me that the more informed an arts administrator is about their own personal finances, the more sensitized this same arts administrator will be to the institution’s finances. You can attempt to bifurcate the two contexts, but if one bar is lower than the other, ultimately one will suffer. Attempting to parse these contexts can lead to problems. Is it not a better idea to prepare an arts administrator student with a solid foundation how to deal with personal finances so that this same student can approach the institution’s finances with the same kind of rigor?

© Eugene Marlow, PhD, MBA 2020

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