Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Giving future managers an artistic perspective

Anmol Vellani
Anmol Vellani

THE India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) has launched a course at MICA, Ahmedabad, to help the budding business leaders to draw inspiration from the arts. Artists will hold dialogues on dissatisfaction as a source of creativity, the need to face up to tensions and battles that might rage between one’s ideological moorings and one’s professional interests and commitments, which will help the students in their professions.

Anmol Vellani, Executive Director, IFA, spells out the rationale off the course:

What is the idea behind dovetailing art into management curriculum?

The idea is to make tomorrow’s corporate professionals better equipped to inspire change and manage challenges.

As globalisation reinvents the marketplace, professional managers are called upon to reinvent themselves, to innovate in ways for which their prior corporate experience does not prepare them. It is no longer enough to embed a vision, which motivates thought and action, or to create a structure, which directs thought and action: future corporate leaders will need to learn how to change thought and action before it congeals into habit.

What does the course broadly cover?

In this course, the budding managers will encounter lives and processes in the arts and become intimate with the processes of creativity and reinvention. ‘Art is fidelity to failure,’ a poet once wrote. His point was not just that to risk failure is the calling of artists, but that to be dissatisfied is fundamental to their temperament.

How does this course enable management students to channelise creativity for becoming better managers?

This course will stimulate students to ask questions that have a fundamental bearing on their own future as creative professionals: Wherein lies the source of an artist’s creativity? Why, after mastering a discipline, do artists continue to interrogate and wrestle with their practice? Future managers can draw lessons from the artist’s refusal to divorce passion from vocation. They will learn why it is important to be inner-centred. Equally, they will learn the value of stretching and challenging existing structures, realising how these can channelise creativity in one moment but block it in the next. And they will then know what it takes to unlock creative potential, their own as much as that of others.

How can management graduates benefit from this in the long run, once they’re part of the workforce?

`A0Business managers need to be sensitised about their social responsibilities, be it with regard to government spending in the social sector, or regarding affirmative action in the private sector, or the ethical responsibilities of business. It has been found that Indian business managers tend to be conservative at best, irresponsible at worst. There is a need to develop enlightened business leaders.

Business leaders need to be made aware of sensibilities in the promotion and dissemination of art and art practice. India has no structures of corporate support to the arts, in stark contrast to countries like the US, Canada, or the UK.This again is an area that needs urgent attention.

— Chetna Keer Banerjee