# Spaces & Systems
> *Spaces & Systems* involves selecting, securing, stewarding, and harnessing the built environment and technological infrastructure.
Winston Churchill famously told the House of Commons in 1943, "We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." The issue at hand was how to rebuild the parliament buildings damaged during World War II. Churchill warned that any change in the nature of the space would necessarily change the process and outcomes of governing.
The same can be said for any durable structures or systems used in Arts Management, from performance halls to art galleries, from specialized studios to common spaces.
Since arts experiences are so often deeply entangled by and with the spaces they occupy, Arts Management requires a keen and creative understanding of spaces and systems, as well as all the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political issues they bring.
A classic analysis of cultural facilities (Arrick and Seamster 1994) discovered and described the dynamics that make thoughtful and responsible projects (for spaces or systems) such a challenge in the nonprofit arts:
- Arts managers are often entrepreneurial, willing to take risks and most have a flair for drama. They seldom approach facility projects with the idea of incremental growth as a guiding principle.
- Arts managers work in a highly competitive environment. They undertake their projects in isolation and lack (or avoid) advisors who question assumptions, challenge myths or share information learned from other projects.
- Arts managers lack “early money,” so they tend to commit to a project prematurely in order to spur fundraising. The process is turned around: it not only skips planning, but makes it difficult or impossible to back down from an early mistake.
- Because fundraising is fluid and often runs concurrent with construction, decisions about projects are made out of context and in free-fall, spurred by momentary fundraising successes and uncontested by solid planning.
While specific to cultural facilities, the findings of this study could equally apply to the conception, construction, selection, and operation of any durable space or system, including the significant digital technology systems that play essential roles in Arts Management (ticketing, customer relations management, production systems, etc.).
- Arrick, Ellen, and Ann Seamster. “National Cultural Facilities Study.” Nonprofit Facilities Fund (now Nonprofit Finance Fund), March 1994. [http://nonprofitfinancefund.org/research-resources/national-cultural-facilities-study-1994](http://nonprofitfinancefund.org/research-resources/national-cultural-facilities-study-1994).
## Tags (click to view related pages)
#functions #functions/spaces_systems #seedling