Learning from Negative Space

Categorizing Success in Arts Policy Entrepreneurship

  • Brea Heidelberg Drexel University


From its inception in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has counted on its agency leaders to operate as policy entrepreneurs – working to influence the federal public policy process and advocating for increased public arts funding. Policy entrepreneurship research has largely centered on success stories (Mintrom & Luetjens, 2017), but this does not provide a full picture of policy entrepreneurship. Kingdon (2003) argues that when policy entrepreneurship fails, so does their policy initiatives, but there has not been an investigation into policy entrepreneurship that fully defines and studies policy entrepreneurship failure in context. This investigation identifies three distinct areas where policy entrepreneurs can achieve success: agency leader, advocacy coalition manager, oppositional respondent. Through the lens of policy entrepreneurship with a focus specifically on rhetoric, this study assesses John Frohnmayer, NEA Chairman from 1989 to 1992, as a case of policy entrepreneurship failure. In looking at a case of unsuccessful policy entrepreneurship, this study furthers policy entrepreneurship theory and provide arts and cultural policy scholars with a more nuanced understanding of Frohnmayer’s time as Chairman of the NEA. 

Author Biography

Brea Heidelberg, Drexel University

Brea M. Heidelberg is an arts management educator, consultant, and researcher focusing on the intersection of the arts and other fields of study. She joined the Entertainment & Arts Management faculty in 2017 and currently serves as Assistant Director of the program. She sees arts administrators as intellectual translators and works to instill a respect for both theory and practice in her students and clients. She is a board member of the Association of Arts Administration Educators and currently serves as Co-Chair of Americans for the Arts’ Emerging Leaders Council. She is also on the editorial board of the American Journal of Arts Management.

Dr. Heidelberg earned her PhD in Arts Administration, Education and Policy from The Ohio State University. Her research interests include professional development issues facing arts administrators, arts advocacy rhetoric, and (inter)national cultural diplomacy. In addition to earning a MA in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University, she also earned a MS in Human Resource Development from Villanova University. Her current research interests involve the professionalization of the field of arts management, the training and development of arts managers, and management issues unique to small and midsized nonprofit arts organizations. Past projects include investigations into arts policy and advocacy rhetoric at the state and federal levels.

Dr. Heidelberg’s consulting work focuses on human resources issues in the nonprofit arts, particularly issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her consulting practice Dr. Heidelberg addresses issues such as employee recruitment and retention, organizational structuring, and succession planning. She also assists arts organizations with board development, organizational and program evaluation, and strategic planning. Dr. Heidelberg thoroughly enjoys office supplies, graphic novels, and getting back to her first love: dance. 

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