Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

+ ART.



Marketing…Not All About the Ticket

It use to be that the success of arts marketers was dependent on how well they could predict the future and then pray for success. But those days are over. Today, arts marketers can rely on data analysis and market research to make well thought outfortune-teller strategic decisions.

I, for one, am glad that marketers no longer have to rely future telling because marketing is an essential part of the arts experience. As a jazz trombonist, I had to learn how to market myself to land gigs and then market my gigs so that people would come to them. Arts organizations have to do the same. But they must market their organization as well as individual performances.

Several years ago Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) ran an institutional marketing campaign with the theme “BAM and then it hits you”. The message they conveyed was that the experience at BAM lingered long after you left. This campaign excited people about BAM as an entire organization, as opposed to a singular performance.

There are countless other examples of successful marketing campaigns in the arts. As emerging arts leaders I think it is essential we pay attention to trends in marketing. What are the latest trends in arts marketing? How do arts marketers use data analysis and market research to make strategic decisions? What type of programming is becoming most difficult to market? There are an endless amount of questions we can ask.

This Sunday April 7th, the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University will feature a panel discussion to answer these marketing questions and more. What questions do you have about arts marketing today?

The panelists for the Marketing Trends panel include:

Jennifer Buzzell – Strathmore: Jennifer Buzzell is the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Strathmore, a multi-disciplinary arts center in North Bethesda, Jennifer Buzell picMD.  Accomplishments at Strathmore include leading the efforts to be the first arts organization in the D.C. area to allow patrons to select their exact seats online; starting an innovative grass-roots and guerilla marketing program that reaches out to sell tickets and raise awareness through non-traditional means; spearheading the efforts with the Strathmore staff to have Strathmore branded as a leader in customer service for the arts in the D.C. area by not charging customers separately for parking and ticketing fees and allowing all patrons to exchange concert tickets; and moving from a subscription-based sales model to a single ticket/membership based sales model (Strathmore Stars).  Jen has a Masters in Arts Management from American University, and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Boston University.  She was named the Montgomery County 2012 Emerging Arts Leader by County Executive Ike Leggett and Catherine Leggett, accompanied by proclamations from Senator Barbara Mikulski, the State of Maryland and Montgomery County. Jen is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery (2009), and serves on the Board of Directors of The Bach Sinfonia, and committees for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and Wheaton Urban District. She lives in Wheaton, MD with her husband Jeremy and children Zoe and Myles.

JoAnn LaBrecque-French – The Washington Ballet: JoAnn LaBrecque-French is currently Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for The Washington Ballet.  LaBrecque picHer extensive background in performing arts includes working as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Washington National Opera; Director of Marketing and Communications for Houston Grand Opera; Public Relations Manager of Los Angeles Opera; and as an Account Executive with Davidson & Choy Publicity, one of Los Angeles’ premier arts and entertainment firms. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Ms. LaBrecque-French was the Director of Program Resources at Neuhaus Education Center, a professional teacher development organization where she developed and implemented marketing, website, communications and on-line teacher-training initiatives. Her expertise encompasses traditional and nontraditional marketing, communications,   and advertising with an emphasis in branding, positioning, media and community partnerships, website development, and incorporating electronic and social media and community outreach into comprehensive and multidimensional external institutional campaigns.   Ms. LaBrecque-French’s consulting client list includes Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, CalArts, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. 

Khady Kamara – Arena Stage: Khady Kamara joined the Arena Stage in 2001 as a Subscriptions Manager and has been an integral member of the Communications team Kamarathrough her work in Audience Services eventually being promoted to Director of Audience Services before taking over as the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.  Under her leadership, Arena’s sales team repeatedly broke box office sales records for a number of shows, including South PacificSophisticated LadiesOklahoma!, and Red.  Ms. Kamara successfully administered the recent upgrade and transition of Arena’s ticketing software to meet the ever changing needs of its growing patron base.  Her work was integral in the success of Arena’s temporary residency in Crystal City and the opening of the Mead Center for American Theater the fall of 2010.  During Ms. Kamara’s tenure, group sales revenue has more than doubled in scope and range of audiences reached.  She also pioneered unprecedented efforts to maximize donations with single ticket purchases. Khady  is the recipient of national and local awards acknowledging her service and professionalism, including the 2009 Outstanding Box Office Award on behalf of Arena Stage from the International Ticketing Association (INTIX) and as a 2009 Offstage Award Honoree from the League of Washington Theatres (LWOT).


Jack Rasmussen – American University: Jack Rasmussen is the Director and Curator Rasmussenof the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. He previously held Executive Director positions at di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, Maryland Art Place, and Rockville Arts Place. He was the owner and director of Jack Rasmussen Gallery in Washington, DC. More information can be found on his blog.


Don’t Just Sit There, Get Involved!

We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum. Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.

Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world. As a young person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.

Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals, online forums, to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DC produced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement. Audience members were able to decide important events of the play such as who survives the plague and who dies. When asked about their experience at The Killing Game, one audience member stated “We begin like stone-faced spectators; we end like the world’s most talkative flash mob”

Although the traditional way an audience views a performance is still very important, I think arts organizations should try to find new ways to engage their audience. As someone who enjoys participation, audience engagement is very important.

With audience engagement becoming more of a necessity, what are some cost effective methods of audience engagement? How are we using technology/social media to effectively engage audiences without losing the true value of the arts experience? And who do you think are some of the most successful arts organizations in terms of audience engagement right now?

To continue this discussion on the importance of audience engagement, please join us on April 7th for the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University.

Panelists for this topic will include:

JR Russ – Class Acts Arts, #thearts, Dance Place: JR Russ is a Washington, DC native who received his B.A. in Dance from UMD, and an M.A. in Arts Management from RussAmerican University. Since then he’s gone on to teach and choreograph in the area, as well as continue to perform, and even work on the administrative & production side of things. This has led to him managing digital and social media for Class Acts Arts & Dance Place, as well as joining the communications and marketing committees for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington & SpeakeasyDC. He also assist Duke Ellington School for the Arts with their social media efforts, in policy and implementation organizationally and through workshops to students on using new media professionally.

Alli Houseworth – Method 121: Alli Houseworth is the founder and chief consultant Houseworth picand strategist at Method 121. Throughout her entire career, she has brought an innovative way of thinking to her work. Often hired to manage projects and implement changes that require deep analytical and strategic thinking, coupled with highly creative ideas, Alli has drawn on her ten years of experience in the communications field to bring an extraordinarily high level of innovation to her work in both the nonprofit and commercial arts sectors. The core of the work always focuses on branding, new media, service-centric audience experiences, and leveraging the power of community. Constantly passionate about developing audiences for the theatre, Alli has established herself as an industry expert in audience engagement and social media.

Margy Waller – Topos Partnership: Margy Waller is a Senior Fellow at Toposwaller pic Partnership and former Vice-President of Research and Strategic Communications at ArtsWave. Previously she was Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, with a joint appointment in the Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy programs. Prior to Brookings, she was Senior Advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton-Gore White House. Before joining the Administration, Margy was Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. She also served as Director of Public Policy at United Way of America, and Director of Policy Development at Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, and a congressional fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Eric Fingerhut (D-OH).

Doug Borwick – ArtsEngaged: Doug Borwick holds the Borwick-ColorPh.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP. He gained experience as an arts administrator and producer working with the Arts Council of Rochester (NY) and through founding and leading the NC Composers Alliance in the mid-1980’s. Dr. Borwick also served for nearly thirty years as Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Borwick is also a leading advocate for community engagement in the arts. He is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal and author/editor of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.


Ximena Varela – American University: Ximena Varela is a researcher, educator, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in international cultural policy, D13_292_138management practice, marketing strategy, arts management research, and sustainable development. She has worked with and advised international organizations, national and regional governments, city agencies, as well as private and nonprofit organizations in arts funding and arts policy. Currently, she chairs the Research Council of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and has been a board member of the Latin American Institute of Museums since 2000.

Click HERE to register for EALS 2013.

Thank You from EALS


Dear Friends,

I would like to humbly thank all those who came out on Saturday for stepping out in style and supporting the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium. It brought me such joy to see everyone having so much fun and getting into character. All funds raised from the benefit will go directly to the execution of the Symposium on April 7th, 2013. 

Also, hearty congratulations to the winners of the auction items; enjoy your excursions! Oh, and if we happen to pop into your head while on one of those excursions, post a photo on our EALS Facebook page for all to see, or tweet it with the tag #EALS2013. Raynel and Alex will have all the photos up on Facebook very soon. But until then, you can go on Instagram and search for #EALS2013.

And, of course, we would like to again extend our warmest appreciation to the HamiltonianGallery for providing such an amazing space. Please be sure to check out their upcoming exhibitions.

If you haven’t registered yet, I urge everyone to pre-register and join the conversation at EALS2013. It is going to be the biggest and best Symposium yet. Find out more information at, and read more on our blog: Tickets to EALS 2013 can be purchased at

Once again, thank you for supporting this great forum for arts students and professionals. I and the rest of the EALS team look forward to seeing you all at the symposium.

See you in April. Cheers!

Steven Dawson 
Executive Chair
Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

What to Wear to the EALS Benefit…?

Mad Men Fashion Guide

The 2013 EALS Benefit is only 5 days away and you know what that means … Time to plan your outfit! This year’s benefit is a 1960’s Mad Men inspired theme. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out what to wear here are some ideas:

















And Don’t Forget…



Now that you have a few ideas about what to wear we are looking forward to seeing you all dressed in your best 1960’s Mad Men Fashion at the 2013 EALS Benefit! 

Located: Hamiltonian Gallery – 1353 U St. NW

Date: Saturday February 23, 2013

Time: 7:30-10:30pm

Cost: $20 – you can purchase tickets in advance here

Food, Music, Wine, Silent Auction, Great Conversation, and more

See you there!!!



The 2013 EALS Benefit is only a few weeks away, and this year we will be at the Hamiltonian Gallery at 1353 U Street!

“The Hamiltonian Gallery is a dynamic space in the heart of the growing Washington, DC contemporary arts district. The gallery focuses on innovative works by emerging and mid-career artists.”

Check out the artists whose work will be featured at the Hamiltonian during the 2013 EALS Benefit

Annette Isham


“My work deals with the construction of identity, role-playing and the commingled layers of self. I concentrate on these dynamics through video, photographs, installations, in which I perform characters based on socially standard behavior including falling in love, being discovered for celebrity and staying fit. I am interested in the subtle ways we absorb popular categorical media models. My aim is to interrupt these abstract romantic notions by making them visible and physical.”

 Jerry Truong


“I grew up in a small town in Northern California, coddled by the suburban American dream, oblivious to the social and political mechanisms that made our way of life possible. Even in my own home, I was blissfully unaware of the sacrifices my parents made to get us here. They never once spoke of the horrors they survived when they escaped from war-torn Vietnam by boat: the constant fear of pirates, suffering from starvation, and witnessing family members drown. We take for granted that every brick in every building and on every street was placed there by hand, and that the pristine and aesthetically structured world we aspire for comes at a cost. Using transformation and deception as conceptual strategies, my intention is for the viewer to be forced to peel back the formal facade. In the process, new questions about history, memory, and identity are revealed in the work, offering the potential for a deeper understanding of our roles within a civil society. I operate with the belief that there is no greater accomplishment than to be a catalyst for change, a force that is able to break people out of the mundane routine of passive acceptance.”

Come check out Annette’s and Jerry’s work, while drinking wine, listening to music and supporting the 2013 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium. And don’t forget to dress up in your best 1960’s MadMen attire!!

For tickets to the 2013 EALS Benefit: Click Here

2012 EALS Benefit Recap!

It’s that time of year again; EALS is starting to prepare for its annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium Benefit. For those of you who have not attended this event in the past here is quick recap of all that happened last year.

Last year our EALS benefit was hosted at the Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle. In addition to helping raise money for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, a forum for today’s arts and tomorrow’s arts leaders, the EALS benefit was a great event for a night out on the town. Guests were able to enjoy incredible art by Elizabeth Grusin-Howe, guzzle wine with the witty Wineboy, Ryan Wegman, jam along to the live jazz by The Burning Wicks, and have their picture snapped by DC’s best dynamic photographer, Cedric Terrell.

Check out these great pics from last year!






This year our annual EALS Benefit is back! Mark your calendars for February 23, 2013 and stay tuned for more information!

Hurricane Sandy’s Affect on Artists

Hurricane Sandy tore through the eastern shoreline in late October 2012 affecting millions of people from several countries including the United States. It is estimated that roughly 8 million people from South Carolina to Maine lost power. We have all seen images of the devastating impact, know friends who were affected, and some of us were personally affected.

As arts leaders and emerging arts leaders we are often caught up in the world of ticket sales, budgets, concerts, exhibits, fundraising, etc. and like so many others we do not expect to have to deal with disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. But what happens when there is a hurricane such as Hurricane Sandy? How does it affect the arts and the artist?

As a jazz trombonist, when thinking about these questions I immediately thought of the many older jazz musicians many of whom are 70+ years old living in New York and New Jersey. How did they deal Hurricane Sandy? In addition to suffering from power outages, and lack of food, many jazz musicians lost gigs because the clubs were closed and also suffering from power outages.

In response to Hurricane Sandy many organizations have rallied around the artist affected by the storm. One organization particular is the Jazz Foundation of America. Immediately following Hurricane Sandy the Jazz Foundation of America started collecting donations for food and water which they personally delivered to elder jazz/blues musicians stuck in their home due to the storm. Their dedication to this particular group of artist is very important. What other organizations do you know of that are helping artists in the wake of Sandy? How can we all help make a difference? And How can we begin to plan now for future natural disasters?

Artists on Election Day


Election day is fast approaching, and everyone is waiting in anticipation to find out who the next President of the United States will be. Whether you will vote for Obama or Romney, Tuesday, November 6, 2012 is an important day. The right to vote is one many Americans have fought hard to earn, and it is now our turn to do our part and cast our vote. Despite the importance of voting we all know politics can be frustrating. I for one am tired of seeing the same campaign adds over and over again!

As artists and emerging arts leaders, we have used art to respond to current events, and this election is no different. In Washington, DC artists and arts organizations are taking part in the election their way. Two very cool election events are the Election Night Jam presented by the Kennedy Center and POTUS Among Us presented by the Washington Improv Theater. Both of these events explore the relationship between the arts and politics in a fun and exciting way.

Leading up to the election people have been going in flocks to check out the Washington Improv Theater’s POTUS Among Us. POTUS Among Us is an improvised show in which audience members interact with the actors in a “number of familiar scenarios — debates, primaries, attack ads and stump speeches…Theater-goers will decide which issues are most important to the five candidates and which contenders make it past the primaries. But in the fantasy world of WIT’s election cycle, the candidates’ lack of prepared talking points isn’t the only departure from reality.”

In addition to interacting with politics via theater, people of the metro DC area can explore how music relates to the election through the Kennedy Center’s Election Night Jam. Artistic Advisor Jason Moran introduced the idea of holding an election night jam session at the Kennedy Center on election day, and this year will be the first time this event will take place. At the election night jam Jason Moran wants to answer the question “What does America sounds like?” To achieve the answer his group “Jason Moran and the Band Wagon” will play as well as opera singers from the Domingo-Cafritz Young artists program, a guitar and fiddle duo, and possibly a fife and drum group! They will play campaign songs, Americana songs, and much more!

As emerging arts leaders it is our job to connect great art with the people in our community. As members of our communities it is also our job to stay relevant and connected. Both the Kennedy Center and the Washington Improv Theater are doing their part by participating in the election their way! So I pose this question to you: How else can we as emerging arts leaders be active members in our communities?

Volunteering in the Arts


As emerging arts leaders we are all looking for our dream job. Some of us are in school for arts management, others of us have jobs but wish to transition into the arts management field. So how do we do it? I do not have a special formula as to how to land your dream job in the arts, but there is one thing that I believe can help; that is volunteering. Now I know you must be thinking, “Why would I volunteer, I need a job that pays!” Although this is true, volunteering is a great way to meet people in the arts management field as well as gain valuable experience.

Volunteering in the arts can be done many ways. One example is participating in an internship program. Internships, although often unpaid, are a great way to gain skills, experience and contacts that will benefit you as you continue to look for a job. If you cannot intern you can still volunteer. Reach out to your favorite arts organization and ask how you can help. Many non-profits would be delighted to have the help of an emerging arts leader. The main thing to keep in mind is that volunteering is not a waste of time and anyone can do it!

Personally, volunteering for arts organizations has been a great experience for me. One of the greatest experiences I had volunteering was when I helped at the NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert. I volunteered as an artist assistant, helping jazz masters navigate throughout the weekend. The experience was great and I made some amazing contacts. Through that experience, I was able to intern at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and from there the National Endowment for the Arts, and now the Kennedy Center. So you see, you never know how volunteering can impact your life. Not only was I able to give my time to an organization I am passionate about, but I was also able to make personal growth. What are some volunteer opportunities you have grown from?

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: