Cultural Production

MFA | MA | PGDip | PGCert Apply now
Image credit: Carey Marks

overview

  • Integrate your academic study of the contemporary arts sector with first hand engagement in the practical workings of our thriving arts team here at Dartington.
  • Develop your skillset and understanding of all areas of arts management and event planning with a view to taking on leadership roles in the sector once graduating.
  • A unique opportunity to trial and test creative programming ideas within a supportive framework and in collaboration with our staff, venues and audiences.

duration

MA: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available – see ‘Learning Pathways’

department

start date:
APRIL

2023-24 Term dates

Module 1 (residential at Dartignton): 17 April 2023 – 19 May
Module 2 (residential at Dartington): 19 – 30 June

Summer Term: 24 July – 13 October (12 weeks)

Module 3 (residential at Dartington): 7 – 18 August
Module 4 (residential at Dartington): 25 September – 6 October

Autumn Term:  23 October 2023 – 2 February 2024 (13 weeks)

Module 5 (residential at Dartington): 23-27 October
Major project / Dissertation (residential at Dartington): 15-26 January 2024

Dissertation hand-in: 2 February

next application deadline

All upcoming application and decision deadlines can be found here.

Learning pathways

Our degree programmes are designed to suit the complexities of modern life, allowing you to live where you live and work where you work, whilst studying the subject you are passionate about as a member of our learning community.

Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below.

To get the most out of the course and of being part of our learning community, many students choose a fully immersive experience for the residential taught periods of their course, staying on our stunning 1,200 campus on the banks of the River Dart with full board accommodation.

MAster's (ft/pt; 180 credits)

A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules and 1 x 60 credit dissertation or major project module. The taught (30 credit) modules are six weeks’ long. Teaching at Dartington is concentrated into two-week periods for each of the first four modules, with supported e-learning and independent learning inbetween.

MFA (ft/pt; Master's plus further study)

The MFA option involves a further 60 credits of study resulting in a significant, self initiated public outcome, performance, exhibition or publication. Participants will be drawn from our own MA programmes as well as those from other institutions.

Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)

A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms.  For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.

Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)

A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.

First module only (30 credits)

The first module from this course can be studied on a standalone basis, with 30 credits allocated per module.

To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘Module One’ option during the application process.

course content

The cultural sector is changing – arts festivals and event organisers are adapting to a new paradigm, driven by the social and climate crises of our time. These changes are essential if we are to develop relevant, financially sustainable projects that have a positive impact for local communities, artists and the environment. As a consequence, producers and arts managers are having to drastically rethink the traditional models and frameworks which underpin their work, and find new ways to achieve these aims. 

At Dartington we have developed resilient new approaches to arts management in order to keep the arts thriving across our 1,200 acre estate, taking inspiration from 100 years of artistic experimentation here. In collaboration with a vibrant community of artists, programmers and organisations, we have launched successful new festivals in the wake of the pandemic, revitalised our prestigious Summer School of Music, opened a new gallery space and run a variety of art residencies, experiences and workshops. We believe that these new models and ways of thinking about cultural production are applicable elsewhere in the new cultural landscape, and this course will give students the opportunity to explore both the theory and practice from the inside out.  

Through the MA Cultural Production students will acquire their own toolkit of skills and first-hand industry knowledge so that they can confidently manage their own cultural events and programmes. To do this you’ll examine case studies of successful, recent arts projects, gaining a full sense of the change-makers and new approaches that are leading the way. You’ll then be parachuted into the various departments here at Dartington, working side-by-side with arts professionals in fundraising, programming, and tech/production, right through to marketing, finance and health and safety. Through hands-on engagement with each area you will build an overall understanding of the multiple elements that contribute to the planning and running of an event, and gain the insight necessary to take on a leadership role in the arts sector. Beyond this we will also examine the potential of partnerships to help scale up your project and overcome delivery challenges by working towards shared goals. 

Who is this course for?  

This course is designed for people who are looking to gain an understanding of the different functions of an arts organisation in the round, backed up with experience, with a future arts leadership position in mind. It is a stepping stone for those currently involved in the arts sector either as an employee or a volunteer and who are looking to develop their career in a meaningful way. The course would also suit students with experience in a different field, but who looking to make an impactful career change into the arts and culture sectors.  

programme structure & modules

Modules 1 and 2 and 3 run sequentially during term 1 and 2. Module 4 runs for the whole of term 3 and is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time.

Principles of Cultural Production (30 credits) 

This module provides a critical introduction to the history, theory and practice of producing cultural events. It takes a blended approach that traces the origins and foundational aspects of events, incorporating fields such as sociology, critical theory and art history to explore how we think about, experience and potentially gain from any given cultural experience. From here we fuse this theoretical understanding with an appraisal of the current contemporary landscape of the arts sector in the UK. To do this we draw on a range exemplary and innovative recent case studies and investigate key components that are setting the policy and funding agenda, such as the Arts Council’s 10-year strategy, and major societal factors that are impacting arts managers right now, from pandemics to the cost-living-crisis, from inclusivity to international relations. With the insights gained, students will then begin to devise their own cultural event/project proposal with particular consideration for the community(ies) they wish to engage and ultimately serve. 

The Producer’s Tool Kit (30 credits) 

Through this module students will develop an industry-standard tool kit of cultural production skills. It is common in the arts sector for staff to focus on one area of practice, programming or curation for example, but here, using Dartington Trust’s own departmental structure as a base, students will explore all areas from contracting artists and working with agents, digital marketing and audience development, fundraising, right through to the nuts and bolts of sourcing instruments or props, personnel, tech set ups, stage management and venue health and safety, and evaluation best-practices. The idea is to help students develop a practical overview of what it takes to run a successful event, programme or exhibition. The module will also help students identify where their current strengths lie and, using a personal development plan, understand how their knowledge and skills could be enhanced if they wish to move into a leadership role in the arts. 

Space, Curation, Programming (30 credits)  

With the toolkit embedded into their practice, students will use the next module to gain a broader view of how cultural venues and longer-term projects can survive in the shifting cultural context. Through a range of intensive assignments, you’ll research potential forms of collaboration, working cross-artform and across cultures to develop interdisciplinary practices that can increase public engagement, while also contributing to the resilience of your project by opening up new audiences and potential funding streams. The focus will be on working at a fast pace, devising multiple potential project ideas which will be reviewed by peers and lecturers on the basis of their viability and resonance with the current cultural landscape. Students will come away with an ability to quickly produce full professional plans to deliver events in different circumstances, as well as the insight to be able to foresee potential challenges and pitfalls to their own ideas with enough time to apply mitigating measures. Students will also learn how to assess the environmental impact of their projects – and to bake in from the outset processes for achieving low-carbon / carbon-neutral / carbon negative (aka regenerative) aims, and for factoring in biodiversity losses and gains too. 

Research and Development (30 credits) 

This module gives students the opportunity to reflect on their learning so far and to really consolidate the practical experience they have gained in reference to the more theoretical and research-based thinking about cultural production explored at the start of the course. Students will be working towards a 1,500-word critical account of the project development process, from planning right through to evaluation. In preparation for this, students are offered space to implement live assignments, collaborative partnership projects with external organisations, or more focussed inquiry into a specific area of interest, with support and guidance from faculty and relevant professional staff at Dartington. The module also helps students to further refine their personal development plan, setting goals and starting to prepare project proposals for their Major Project/Dissertation. 

Major Project/Dissertation (60 credits) 

This module invites students to devise their own personal project in order to demonstrate their practical, creative, theoretical and reflective understanding of arts management. It is students’ opportunity to explore the potential of their new skills and experience with increased complexity, using the resources on the Dartington estate (or another venue of your choice) as a canvass on which to trial new ideas in a supportive and structured environment, without the risks of putting on an event independently. The outcome is an assessed cultural production presented in the public domain as part of the year-round events programme at Dartington (or elsewhere). If a student’s practice is more research-based it is also possible to submit a 15,000-word dissertation, or a 50/50 combination of the two. 

MFA Professional Project (60 credits) 

This module is self-initiated from the outset and prioritises individual research, conducted under supervision with identified tutors and other mentors and external advisors considered essential to the study. MFA students learn from and contribute to the delivery of the module through their interaction with peers, tutors and the wider arts and cultural community. Emphasis is placed upon independence, originality, initiative and enterprise. Teaching and learning will be complimented by the wide range of visiting lecturers (e.g. artists, curators, ecologists, choreographers, directors, philosophers, performers composers, critics, producers, etc), providing the opportunity to discuss work with renowned experts. Students will develop individual opportunities with national and/or international venues, opportunities, agencies, etc., which may also result in working independently or at distance. Culmination of the module is the production of a substantial and resolved creative outcome that will be exhibited/performed/published and assessed in an appropriate public arena. 

entry requirements

Qualification(s) required for entry to the MA

BA (Honours) Degree: A first degree in an arts, or humanities subject. All applicants will be required to present examples of relevant work. Where the first degree is not arts or humanities-related, a portfolio of work will be required in support of the application or experience that is equivalent and demonstrates interest or track record in related field.

Other non-standard awards or experience: A willingness to engage with the field of Cultural Production or Arts Management. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview. For further information please contact our admissions team at admissions@dartington.org.

Interview requirements: All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the School or online.

fees

For full details on our fees, plus information about scholarships, student loans and bursaries, click here.

staff

Emily Hoare

Emily Hoare

Emily is Creative Director for Dartington Trust.

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Alan-Boldon

Alan Boldon

alan.boldon@dartington.org

Alan Boldon is a practising artist and CEO of the Dartington Trust. He specialises in arts and ecology and systems thinking.

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Alan-Boldon

will kemp

will.kemp@dartington.org

Will is Marketing Lead for learning programmes at Dartington, with experience working in programming and communications at a range of arts organisations, including in the Literature and Music Departments at the British Council and at Charleston Trust.

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Susie Hall

SUSIE Hall

Susie Hall is Head of Learning Programmes at Dartington. She is a highly experienced arts professional, specialising in education, family learning and health.

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While we continue to fine tune the detailed teaching programme for this course, key people involved in arts management at Dartington include:

  • Sara Mohr-Pietsch (Artistic Director of our Music Summer School & Festival and BBC Radio 3 presenter)
  • Emma Gladstone (Dartington Trustee and Independent Programmer & Arts Advisor)
  • Michael Sells (Senior Producer, Dartington Trust)

We anticipate introducing to students to staff across our arts team, from producers and programmers to others with fundraising, marketing and technical specialisms, depending on the research and practical interests of each student.

Venues, Platforms and Festivals

Dartington is a cultural centre in a rural location which makes a significant contribution to the cultural life of the local Totnes area, but attracting audiences from much further afield on a regular basis. To give you a flavour of the kinds of projects and programmes you could get invovled in though this degree, here’s a selection of the key parts of our arts activity.

Dartington Music Summer School & Festival

Four weeks of shared music making, learning and listening, from early music to jazz. Courses for all ages and abilities, accompanied by over 60 concerts and events, set against the backdrop of a medieval estate in the heart of Devon.
A packed house in the Barn Cinema

barn Cinema

A stunning 170-seat independent cinema with community at its heart, based in a 15th century building redesigned as a theatre by Walter Gropius. The cinema receives regular support from BFI and is part of a network of cinemas connected with the Independent Cinema Office.
We have ongoing partnerships with a number of arts organisations, including:

Counterpoints Arts – a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change 

Action Hero – an art collective who run an annual restorative artist residency on the estate  

Commun – community building with BIPOC voices  

Into Film – the UK’s leading charity for film in education  

careers

This course is designed to help students springboard their career in the arts sector, with a “personal development plan” built into the course content and worked on throughout with support from tutors. We anticipate students using the course to develop a 360 degree understanding of arts management, giving them the skills and knowledge required to succeed in leadership roles in arts organisations, festivals and cultural entities, from international orchestras to theatre production companies, galleries, museums and cultural centres.

Potential future roles in the arts:

  • Production Manager
  • Programme Manager
  • Curator
  • Creative Producer
  • Artistic Director
  • Arts Manager

live chats & open days

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latest news & blogs

Zoe Benbow discusses her exhibition at Dartington

Zoe Benbow discusses her exhibition at Dartington

With the arrival of her arboreally-inspired paintings in our gallery space, we catch up with artist Zoe Benbow to find out more about her creative process, the influences and training that helped shape her work, and the ways in which place and the natural world continue to inspire her.

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