Aleksandar Brkic is a lecturer/research fellow at the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Management and a PhD candidate at the Management in Arts and Media program at the University of Arts in Belgrade. His primary research focus is on the cultural policy and intercultural dialogue, methodologies of arts management education, creativity and innovation, cultural anthropology. Aleksandar holds a MFA in Scene design and BA in Theatre and Radio production from University of Arts in Belgrade, MSc in Management from Cass Business School, City University in London. He has an international experience as a researcher, lecturer and  trainer, as well as an  arts manager on international collaborative projects.

1. Aleksandar, you are lecturer at the Center for Interdisciplinary studies, University of Arts, Belgrade (UNESCO Department for Cultural Policy and Management).  How do you adapt your teaching methods to be effective for a group of students coming from different countries and having different cultural background?

For someone coming from a generation that feels all aspects of globalization in everyday life, plus having an adventurous and curious character with a need for the exploration of different spaces, it is not that difficult. Our personal intercultural experiences and the almost nonexisting generational gap between me and students, help me to use a personalized approach and connect with almost everyone  in a  group. This helps especially when the groups are small – up to 25 students. It becomes more difficult in cases when the group consists of people with very different level of experience, no matter what country they come from. In these cases it is important to use various methodological tricks adapted to an intergenerational dialogue so that the lecture is equally interesting for all participants. I was lucky to have as menthors lecturers from different fields, which all made a strong influence on me with their own specific styles and approaches (e.g. Milena Dragicevic Sesic, Radivoje Dinulovic, Ljiljana Bogoeva Sedlar, Branko Pavic, Michael Ramsaur, Tomas Zizka, Clive Holtham, Joseph Lampel).

2. You wrote a paper: “Teaching Arts Management: Where Did We Lose The Core Idea”, published at the International Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society (Washington, Issue Winter 2009). Could you share what are the main concerns and findings in your paper?

It is very difficult to be at one and the same time a practitioner, lecturer and a researcher in the field of arts management. I strongly believe that our field requiers all these aspects if a professional would like to be in a position of sharing and expanding knowledge. It is certainly not easy to find an academic that covers all these aspects equally well. My paper is questioning the reasons why art is not in the center of most of the educational practices in our field. I look at this question by classifying the existing teaching schools and providing some recommendations. This is just an introduction to a much larger set of questions concerning methodological and strategical issues of our field, which is still quite young, weak and not defined enough. I was inspired to write about these issues by the editor of this edition of the journal – Constance DeVereaux.

3. In your professional career you combine lecturing, research and consulting with practical experience in project and organizational management in the arts. Which area of your professional activities motivates you the most and why?

I grew up in an atmosphere of some kind of naive Eastern European socialism. I was influenced a lot by my father, as well as by the left-wing intellectuals. Despite of the new era we live in, I managed to maintain this ambience in me (and to survive). Concerning both areas in which I am professionally active, my motivations are tangible – I set up long-term goals and combine them with a constant need for communication. An important motivation for me to stay in the academic field is the cases when I help someone to explore his/her potential and to do something interesting, innovative and creative. I like to support younger people and to learn from them.

When it comes to my role as an arts manager, I find motivation in the creative process of working and experimenting with artists, breaking the existing rules, and creating together new experiences which give us an opportunity to communicate with audiences in an exciting way.

4. You work intensively on European level. What would be your professional advice to your colleagues – young researchers before they start to collaborate internationally and to promote their work beyond the borders?

Well, my advice would be to adapt to the international context from the beginning of a collaborative project and to try to bring into it your own values, cultural background and creativity.  I also think it is important to somehow forget the borders; physical, social, political, material. The inner belief in the fragility of these borders is something that still pushes me to continue further.

Our perception of time in the decade we live in has changed a lot – we all are busy and overloaded by things to do. My advice would be – try to take things slower despite of the circumstances which might push you. Take your time to think longer. Travel with a train, instead of a plane. Walk on foot instead of taking a metro/bus. Create connections with people that will last for years, and not only for a few months. Be patient. And try to work hard as much as you can on the things you care about and with people which you really appreciate.

5.What is next in your professional plans ahead, especially in relation to European collaborative research projects?

My primary goal is to work on my PhD project that will question the roles of an art manager in the process of creation of collaborative art projects, using empirical and theoretical research methods. I will also continue my research related to the policies in education of arts managers in the European context. I work on another project at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad which investigates the condition and potentials of Cultural Centers in Serbia. At the same time I am finalizing a large collaborative art project called Intersection ( – a new performance of the choreographer Jozef Nadj; working with Victoria and Albert museum,  London on the presentation of “Space and Light” exhibition in Belgrade…

6. What is your hobby and art affiliation? What do you do in your free time?  What is your “non-public” face?

In the last 7 months, since my daughter Tara was born, my wife and I are completely preoccupied with her. We decided to spend as much time as we can with our daughter during this first period of her growing up… and Tara’s batteries never get empty 🙂

I travel a lot, mostly giving lectures, participating in conferences and doing different international projects. These changes of geographical, social and time zones help me a lot to reflect on various issues and often inspire me for engaging in something new.  Since I am a very social person by nature, I decided to leave Facebook almost year ago, when I realized that my social behaviour decreased as a result of becoming a Facebook fan. I try to spend now as much time as I can with my family and friends – either in Belgrade or other places – playing basketball and table tennis, going to various cultural and social events. I was “born” in the theatre, and this is maybe why I often work on projects connected with performing arts. In the recent years I work closely with artists on projects which are at the border of performing and visual arts and design.


Read the interview also on the Young Cultural Policy Researchers Forum.

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