Substantial parts of the arts and cultural management literature follow the models and instruments of business administration. Although these models are mainly based on an economic-driven logic, nonetheless, they have been transferred into a field that underlies not an economic, but an aesthetic logic. From a visitor-driven perspective, one could say that in this case it is all about the aesthetic experience; in management terms, one would speak of the production, distribution, and consumption of arts. It is necessary to accept that at the core of the arts is the aesthetic experience, and the management of art organizations should correspond to that. But what could an aesthetic-driven arts management look like? Following this path, one recognizes that such a management theory also should correspond to the manifold different logics that arts organizations maneuver in: cultural/social, political, media, legal, pedagogical, and financial.

We conceptualize arts organizations as complex social systems that produce aesthetic experiences. Based on this framework, we will introduce a new perspective on managing art organizations that involves three steps: what’s at the core? an introduction; the organization as system; and culminating with some management impulses.