Why Come to EALS?

Curious to learn more about what EALS is and why it has become such an influential event in the world of arts management? Still deciding whether EALS is right for you? James Swindell, a current student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Masters in Arts Management program, attended the symposium last year and is coming back again. The team here at EALS spoke with James to learn how the symposium impacted him as a student and young professional, tips he had for first-timers to EALS this year, what he’s looking forward to, and more.

Q: Describe the EALS experience in 3 words.

A: Engaging, Energizing, Edifying

Q: Has EALS changed your perspective in the field? If so, how? 

A: EALS expanded my horizons in regards to the arts. I registered for the event with a mild understanding of arts management and left recognizing that there was much more to learn about the field. This experience provided me with a greater understanding of our community as a prospective graduate student and renewed my commitment to the arts by becoming involved in a cultivating experience such as EALS.

Q: What was the greatest thing you learned at EALS? 

A: Always carry business cards.  It is more of a networking practice than anything, but it is vital to building your network. There was so much I feel like I didn’t consider before attending EALS.  At times, I learned more by engaging with other attendees than I did in the sessions themselves. I look forward to moving on from that lesson and answering this question much differently after this year!

Q: I don’t have anyone to go with. Will it be awkward for me? Is it easy to meet people?

A: I attended last year’s symposium alone. The students and faculty at American University understand and value the importance of our arts community, so believe me when I say that it’s quite easy to network at this event. I even ran into three colleagues who happened to be attending the event as well! I encourage you to attend without any reservations about being awkward or alone. I’ll even make a deal with you: If you are afraid of being alone then sign up for the symposium, come find me, and I will personally assure you that you truly aren’t alone.

Q: Describe a highlight moment from last year’s symposium. 

A: Last year, I was attracted to a panel discussion called “The Relationship Between Artist and Administrator” because of my background as a musician. I remember that I was very nervous because I wanted to ask a very personal question, but I knew I had to bring it up. I don’t quite remember the question in its entirety, but Lee Anne Myslewski from Wolf Trap Opera (one of the panelists for the session) responded to my question. Her response put me at ease especially considering that I was burnt out, living at home with my parents, and completely unaware of where life was going. I reflect on this moment a year later and I wonder where I would truly be without that moment.

Q: Why do you come back to EALS?

A: I come back to EALS because I had such an amazing experience last year. I get butterflies every time I visit DC and can see myself living there in the future.  It is a wonderful way to remain involved in the DC arts community, especially as an emerging arts leader. DC definitely has competition now that I’ve fallen in love with my new home in Pittsburgh, but I will certainly keep returning as long as I am able.

Q: What are you looking forward to this year?

A: I am looking forward to several things this year! I am looking forward to spending time in Washington DC (GO NATIONALS). I am looking forward to seeing my friends and colleagues from American University and the DC Arts Community (cough Helene Genetos, Erin Quinlan, David Cowan cough). I am looking forward to attending as a first year graduate student. I am looking forward to learning more about the arts and refining my knowledge of the field. I look forward to Arts Advocacy Day the following day. Overall, I am just excited to be attending and to be returning for another exciting symposium. What wouldn’t I look forward to!?

Q: Why is EALS worth the effort/trip/time/money?

A:If you are an emerging arts leader, then this experience is designed especially for you. It is an extremely affordable experience organized and executed by young men and women whose passions align along with yours. Their hard work and dedication to EALS attracts professionals from all disciplines within the arts. Whether you are still exploring your place as an emerging arts leader or you have found your particular niche, the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium offers a wide range of sessions for you to contribute your voice to the overall conversation. I encourage you to visit the EALS website to explore the content of previous symposiums as well as the content for the upcoming symposium. This event is a unique offering for emerging arts leaders, but it becomes even better with your attendance. Your contributions are an integral part to the discussion. I hope to see you there!


unnamedJames Swindell is a first year graduate student enrolled in the Master of Arts   Management (MAM) program at Carnegie Mellon University and currently serves as the Program Assistant for the MAM Program. He has previously held positions with the Ferguson Center for the Arts, the Virginia Opera Association, and the Glimmerglass Festival prior to enrolling at Carnegie Mellon. Originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, he is a passionate musician and an emerging arts leader with interests in opera administration, musical theater, symphony operations, and performing arts presenters. In his spare time he likes to attend local arts engagements, sporting events, and services at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. ~@JimSwindell asdsa