By 9 am on Sunday, March 23, the Kreeger lobby was starting to buzz with eager and enthusiastic arts leaders at all stages of their careers, from students to CEOs, all gathered for the seventh annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University.

EALS 2014 attendees Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman
EALS 2014 attendees
Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman

 

We welcomed students and faculty from programs all around the country, including Southern Utah University, Savannah College of Art & Design, Texas Tech University, Columbia UniversityGeorge Mason University and of course, our own AU students and faculty.

At 10 am, we gathered in the Abramson Family Recital Hall for a rousing speech by Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director for Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera. She told us about her re-branding of Glimmerglass, the importance of arts education for all ages, and her firm belief in only hiring sexy or attractive opera singers. She then joined Russell Willis Taylor, President and CEO of National Arts Strategies, for a vibrant, funny, and inspiring conversation about the challenges and rewards of being a leader in the arts.

Francesca Zambello and Russell Willis Taylor Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman
Francesca Zambello and Russell Willis Taylor
Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman

Our first panel breakout session featured discussions on Arts & Diplomacy, Effective Leadership & Smooth Transitions, and the Relationship Between Artists & Administrators. We were privileged to hear from some of the most innovative and dynamic leaders in the field.

Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, talking about effective leadership and smooth transitions. Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman
Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, talking about effective leadership and smooth transitions.
Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman

During lunch, we were happy to have our friends from EALDC host a résumé review table where attendees could have their résumés reviewed by professionals in the field.

EALDC Resume Review Table
EALDC Resume Review Table

Our afternoon breakout session featured panel discussions on Grantwriters & Grantmakers in the Arts, The Rise of the Hybrid, and Cross-Pollination. Attendees had the chance to hear personal stories as well as practical application advice from our smart and savvy panelists and moderators.

Zachary Clark, Lisa Richards Toney, and Michael Bigley discussion grantwriting and grantmaking in the arts. Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman
Zachary Clark, Lisa Richards Toney, and Michael Bigley discuss grantwriting and grantmaking in the arts.
Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman

Finally, we reconvened in the Recital Hall for a performance by Taffety Punk Theatre Company and our closing keynote address given by Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of ArtPlace America. Jamie told us about the innovative work that ArtPlace America is supporting and developing by creating a whole new field – creative placemaking – and reminded us that the arts are not only vital to healthy communities, but also to the nation’s economy. He implored us, as current and future leaders of the arts, to invest more time and energy into making things fun!

Jamie Bennett gives the 2014 EALS closing keynote address Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman
Jamie Bennett gives the 2014 EALS closing keynote address
Photo credit: Kaitlin Whitman

It was a terrific day packed full of conversation and inspiration. Thank you to all who joined us. If you weren’t able to make it, or would like to see what was going on in the panel discussions you may have missed, check out our tweets from the day.

If you were in attendance, please take a moment to fill out this survey, so we can make EALS 2015 even better!

A giant and sincere thank you to all who made the 2014 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium such a success!

 

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