The concept of a not-for-profit, government subsidized, multi-disciplinary arts management service in Nova Scotia existed for many years. In the 1990s, funders acknowledged that Nova Scotian artists would benefit from subsidized management support. It was suggested that a multi-disciplinary model would suit a smaller population and encourage the exchange of ideas and information to the benefit of all involved. In 1999, the Nova Scotia Arts Council commissioned a Needs Assessment that recommended this model, but, when their mandate was terminated, the project did not continue.
In 2005 Barbara Richman became interested in this project and asked Leah Hamilton and Bruce Klinger to participate in its development. Through a Flying Squad project developed with Dance Nova Scotia, this group updated the earlier Needs Assessment and interviewed 50 potential clients working in the performing arts in creation, performance, dissemination and professional development functions. The survey results showed a continued need for a wide range of activities and a willingness to contract for them. In 2006 -2007, with the assistance of individual project grants awarded to Barbara Richman by the Canada Council and the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, the Strategic Arts Management (SAM) concept was developed on a pilot basis with a small but diverse group of five performing arts clients.
Over this year the three founders further researched operational models; developed SAM as a not-for-profit organization with a business plan; began to source consultants; and explored sources for continued funding. In 2007-08 the Canada Council provided SAM with funding to continue its work and develop the organization further. Shortly thereafter, the Province of Nova Scotia also agreed to fund SAM on a pilot basis. Based on the success of the first year, this funding was fully renewed by both funders for 2008-09. The Canada Council has continued its investment in SAM, and they have since been joined by the Province of Nova Scotia.
Since its founding, SAM has provided a range of services to over 100 clients, through a combination of specific client activities and group workshops. The response of SAM Clients and SAM Consultants has been strongly positive and requests for services have continued to increase from both established and new clients.