The contention that change is now the only certainty for arts organizations has almost become a cliché. This is largely because different external drivers of change have combined to create a perfect management storm. Despite this challenging organizational and policy context, there remains a significant gap in our understanding regarding “how change happens and how we can shape its outcomes” (Peacock, 2008, p. 334). This chapter addresses this gap by providing a critical overview of the academic and grey literature on managing change in the arts and by comparing and contrasting the theory with the lived experience of arts managers, leaders and workers. It does this by presenting the findings of an evaluative case study, conducted by the author, of a major change initiative in a large regional producing theatre in the UK.
The findings of the case study generate fresh management insights into the process, challenges, barriers and impacts of organizational change in the arts. On the basis of these findings, the chapter provides recommendations to support the effective management and leadership of change. The chapter concludes that although change often emanates from external forces, arts organizations should aim to become “evolving organizations” (Tushman and O’Reilly, 1996) and adopt Peacock’s (2008) “emergent model” of change in order to remain in a constant state of readiness to respond to new and emerging drivers of change.