Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

+ ART.


Personal Reflection

EALS 2016: + ART Theme & Poll

The EALS Committee is excited to present the EALS 2016 theme: + ART! As arts leaders, we often have to make the case that art is an important factor in every aspect of life. + ART is about including art in the pertinent conversations happening in our society today whether it’s about open data, social justice, or what happened at the VMA’s. This year, to start these conversations before the Symposium on March 6th, we’re launching EALS Polls. Every Friday, we want to hear directly from you about current trends you care about in the arts field and the larger communities in which we serve and operate. Can’t wait to hear what we all have to say! Continue reading “EALS 2016: + ART Theme & Poll”


Who to Follow on Social Media

After dazzling you with her knowledge of where to eat and drink in DC, Helene is back to guide you through the world of social media. She is here to tell you who to retweet, whose instagrams need no filter, and where to get expert ideas with this step by step guide. Continue reading “Who to Follow on Social Media”

My Day at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (Guest Blog)

On the eve of EALS, my mind was not on arts management. I had assignments to finish, summer plans to finalize, and projects to plan. But the next morning, all of that changed. Continue reading “My Day at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (Guest Blog)”

Is Graduate School Necessary?

So…Why graduate school?  Why Arts Management?

…are the two questions I get asked the most when people find out I’m in grad school.  The answer I really want to give is: “Well, why not?”

But if a more serious answer is needed, then I’ll be honest.  I felt stuck and I needed to find a way to move forward.  After three years with a theatre company in Minneapolis, I was in a position with little upward mobility.  If I didn’t want to have to start over in another company at an entry-level position, I needed to get an advanced degree.  My dreams for the future include high-level management in a theatre company, so sitting in a dead-end position was not for me.  Now here I am, in the middle of my first semester of grad school, facing the stacks of reading and hours of homework and silently wondering if I’ve made the right choice.  That’s normal, right?  (I’ve been told repeatedly that it is…so, I guess that’s a relief).  But really, I feel confident in the decision I’ve made.

The depth of knowledge and expertise my professors display, the vast network of alumni, and the great reputation American University’s Arts Management program has in the arts community, are just a few of the reasons this place is unbeatable.



However, knowing that one perspective isn’t everything, I’ve enlisted the help of my fellow EALS committee members, as well as an alumna of the program and a prospective student, to help shed some light on the topic.


Do you think grad school is becoming the new standard of education?

I think a graduate degree is absolutely becoming the standard for the next generation of arts administrators. There is an increasing amount of competition for the high level positions in a successful arts organization. If that’s the kind of job you want, you have to make yourself an attractive, well educated candidate. — Amyjo Foreman ‘16

In my experience it sure seems that way. Grad school appears to be necessary in this competitive job market if one hopes to get a position which matches your level of education. I don’t know if it is because entry-level jobs are disappearing and giving way to internships and fellowships, or if the competitive job market has turned what might have once been thought of as an entry-level job into a position requiring a graduate degree.  — Pascale Rucker, prospective student


How has your understanding of what grad school is and its purpose in your life changed since you started?  

Before beginning grad school, I looked at the advantages of having a master’s degree mostly in metrics (ex: how many more contacts I will gain, how much potential earnings should increase, etc.).  Now I realize that for me, grad school has been so much more fulfilling qualitatively.  I found a sense of home in a new city and with a new group of friends, my perspective and knowledge is constantly growing and changing, and I have shaped and re-shaped my identity, curiosity, and tools I use to navigate everyday life.  I knew I would be changed, but not this deeply. — Erin Quinlan ‘15

At first, I really thought that grad school was just some more studying and focus of an area I’m interested in, but I realized it’s so much more. I’m surrounded by people with the same goals that I have and everyday what I want to do in life becomes more and more clear. I finally feel as though my goals are achievable and have the proper tools to achieve them. — Zenia Simpson ‘16


What do you think are some common misconceptions about grad school?

Some common misconceptions I find in grad school is that it is a strict continuation of how you’ve been studying throughout your life. It’s much more concentrated and in a smaller time frame. Grad school expects you to take a one sentence question and build a thesis and career out of it, whereas you’ve been able to get by on writing a 10-page paper on a 300-page book. There’s also a belief that grad school will make you employable, which, while hopefully it will, students still need to remember to build work experience and networks in their fields. And then, sometimes, it still comes down to luck. — Sarah Hewitt ‘15

A common misconception I have heard about graduate school is that it is a place to discover, more specifically, what you want to do. Although I think graduate school has a lot of room for self-discovery and exploration, students should decide to attend graduate school after they know which career path they want to take. Grad school should not be used for solely gaining experience, but learning the specifics about your desired career path. — Tori Sharbaugh ‘16


What led you to choose the Arts Management program at AU?

I picked AU because of the people. I met great people at the other amazing schools I looked at, but there was something about the people at American that spoke to me. The professors had more heart, and maybe more sarcasm, than the rest. The people were more like me in that they have worked a bit, they have seen the world, and they have my sense of humor. — Helene Genetos ‘16

I had been looking at all of the DC-area Arts Management programs and was very much drawn to the International Arts Certificate (given my background in Russian and interest in international cultural programs/exchanges). I liked being able to cross disciplines and that AU encouraged it. — Sarah Hewitt ‘15

My first reason for attending the AU program was because of the reputation it has amongst Arts Management programs across the country. From information I had collected, AU immediately stood out as one of the leading programs. In addition to the reputation of the professors and available opportunities, the location of Washington, D.C. was a huge draw for me. — Tori Sharbaugh ‘16

AU’s Arts Management program is well established and highly respected in the field with graduates working in leadership positions across the country. I was also particularly drawn to the experienced faculty, coursework, and endless opportunities for students to engage and learn from others in the field through symposiums, conferences and events. It also helped that the program was in Washington, which is where I wanted to further develop my career and build connections. (This answer was originally posted on Her Campus) — Erin Phillips ‘14

As an Art History major, my background is purely academic. I want to pursue a career of a more business capacity, so a graduate degree in Arts Management seems to be the ideal program. Alumni and current students speak so highly of the program at AU. I am currently seeking more information. — Pascale Rucker, prospective student


What do you think an arts focused grad degree gives you that a MBA doesn’t?

One of the push backs I got from people was why I was going after the MA programs instead of an MBA. Since these arguments were few and far between and coming from people who knew nothing about this field, I pretty much politely ignored their suggestions, offering a line something to effect of liking the ability to tailor my program more specifically to my needs as an arts manager. — Colleen Holroyd ‘15

An arts focused degree offers a critically important lense that an MBA or Non-profit Management degree would not.  Arts organizations are very unique beasts who present their own challenges, issues, and opportunities.  The chance to focus specifically on the inner-workings of organizations as similar to ones we will actually manage in our careers is a key element.  That is also why EALS is so great!  We focus specifically on the issues our colleagues are curious about! — Erin Quinlan ‘15

I struggled with the decision between arts management masters and an MBA. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to work with the arts and wanted to be seen as a member of the arts community. I felt an MBA would set me apart from my colleagues and not in the way I wanted. Who knows, I could always go get one later… — Helene Genetos ‘16


What were some of the biggest arguments people offered to try to persuade you not to pursue an arts degree?  What made you choose to ignore them/how were they wrong?

People have a preconceived misconception that the arts aren’t profitable, you can’t make your living that way, or that arts should just be an extracurricular. Sorry, but you’re wrong, dudes! The cultural sector stimulates the economy, provides full time jobs, and can enhance the quality of life on all levels. We’re in this program because we understand that and part of our job is to help others understand that too. — Amyjo Foreman ‘16

The biggest argument I have always encountered revolves around compensation. It is no lie that arts managers do not make as much in the non-profit sector as other careers. But that is a choice I believe we all have made in order to pursue our passions (or should make sure we have made). I’d rather be ecstatic in my career and want to go to the office every day, than feel completely financially secure. My college adviser gave me this advice in a different context, but it comes down to “if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, than this is the career for you.” For me, that credo was enforced during the recession when I could gratefully say that I loved my job and was able to make a living, albeit a modest one, off of what I was doing. — Sarah Hewitt ‘15

The biggest argument I heard upon deciding to come to grad school was all about money.  I understand that to some, this investment seems frivolous or even useless but I had to go with my gut on this one.  It turns out that I have already gained more than I have paid for.  Yes, I have gained all the skills and knowledge I expected my tuition to cover but I can’t put a price tag on the pride, support, and confidence I will leave this program with.  This is especially important to me as a young woman arts leader as some voices discourage confidence in my education. — Erin Quinlan ‘15


What is your favorite thing about AU’s program?

It’s the people — students, teachers, alumni — they’re all such interesting people with brilliant ideas for the field. The location is also fantastic. There are opportunities I’ve been able to latch on to by virtue of being in the DC area. Certainly there would be other opportunities in other locations, but the things I’ve been able to do by being in this area are incredible, my job with the NCTA (Nat’l Council for the Traditional Arts) at the forefront. — Colleen Holroyd ‘15

My favorite thing about AU’s program is how interconnected we all are. With multiple active Facebook pages and blogs, I feel in constant contact with everyone in the program and am constantly learning about news in the industry, events, and even job opportunities. Even when not at AU, I run into alumni or people who hold the program in such high regard and are always asking if I know someone who needs work because people in our program are so top-notch. — Zenia Simpson ‘16


So… Why graduate school?  Why Arts Management?  Because we live and breathe art, it is a necessary and important part of our culture, it fulfills a place in our lives that nothing else can, and we can no longer deny the call of our passion.


This article was written by Jenni Amis. 

All opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the individual and do not reflect the views of American University or the Arts Management program.  

Proudly Announcing the 2015 EALS Committee!

Hello blogosphere!  Erin here, your new Executive Chair.

As my first imperial decree humble proclamation, I hereby introduce you to the newly formed EALS Committee 2015.  Not only are they insanely talented in their respective art forms, they are a bunch of smart, savvy, inspiring emerging arts leaders.  Oh, and did I mention… we’re all ladies?  That’s right.  2015 is the year of the female committee promising to bring you a sensational year of programming culminating in a symposium like you haven’t seen before.  Plus, we’ll do our best to keep the Spice Girl references to a minimum.  No promises on Beyonce though.

Without further ado, let me introduce you do our committee.  So that you and I could get to know these fearless leaders a little better, I asked them some not-so-common interview questions and here are their answers.  Enjoy!

Bethesda, MD
Tori Sharbaugh, Marketing Coordinator

Tori grew up singing, but veered toward arts management in undergrad at Gettysburg College.  She was a stage manager for two years and is now a graduate assistant at the Greenberg Theatre here at AU.  Tori’s go-to karaoke song is Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show and she warns us not to take her to Vegas because she is severely unlucky.  Get this- she has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and can karate kick through a wooden board.  Watch out, y’all, we’ve got a new bodyguard!


Jenni Amis, Program Coordinator
Jenni Amis, Program Coordinator

Jenni is from Minneapolis, MN and joins AU from a background in ticketing, stage management, and marketing.  If she could throw a parade, it would be just like the one in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with a musical number.  She says the definition of the internet is “the key and portal into the madness, kind of like the magic wardrobe to Narnia, the rabbit hole for Alice, or The Doctor’s Tardis.”  I’m gonna go with her on that.  Lastly, if you ever need a movie trivia nerd on your team for Trivial Pursuit, she’s your gal.  But… DIBS!


Helene Genetos, Finance Coordinator
Helene Genetos, Finance Coordinator

Helene originally hails from Indianapolis, IN but has lived in DC for 9 years.  Read: if you’re looking for a foodie place to eat, she knows all.  She is admittedly not an artist by trade but she is in love with museums.  Her karaoke song of choice is No Diggity by Blackstreet and she has an embarrassing enviable talent of memorizing lyrics to bad one hit wonder songs.  If she could design a rap battle it would be between Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj because “their skills at slinging lyrics and making you think while rapping are top notch among female rappers. Plus we’ve seen all the male battles but the ladies know how to do it! ”


AmyJo Foreman, Program Coordinator
AmyJo Foreman, Program Coordinator

AmyJo Foreman is from Friendswood, TX and worked at the Alley Theatre in Houston and as her artist friends’ personal assistant before joining us.  When asked if she is a hunter or a gatherer, she chooses hunter because the poison potential is too great for gatherers. Risk management, folks.  Though, she does have an adventurous side because she says she’d wash the windows of the Washington Monument from the outside for a gift card to Whole Foods.  Last fun fact, but one we must fix is that AmyJo has never been to karaoke.


Zenia Simpson, Marketing Coordinator
Zenia Simpson, Marketing Coordinator

Zenia (pronounced like the end of “Tanzania” she tells us) is from NYC.  She comes from a background in arts marketing and public relations and, we should mention, is a talented film artist.  Her biggest fear is falling down the Metro escalators, but has no fear identifying as a hunter because in the words of Frank Underwood, “Hunt or be hunted”.  The rap battle she designs is too good not to give you the entire masterpiece of a description so check this out…

Disclaimer: I know everyone hates Kanye but: Kanye ascends on top of a cliff saying “Yeezus is back.” All of a sudden, purple rain and glitter falls from the sky and all you hear is “dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing call life.” Prince descends from a cloud and starts playing his electric guitar on top of a giant speaker. The speaker starts blaring one of Kanye’s beats and knocks Prince down where he gracefully lands on top of a piano. Prince starts singing “The Beautiful Ones” and Misty Copeland starts performing her ballet piece. Kanye jumps on top of the piano and starts screaming “Runaway” at the top of his lungs. Misty starts performing the ballet piece for that song. Prince looks at Kanye and says “impressive.” Kanye fan girls out. Everyone wins.

Sarah Robinson, Production Manager
Sarah Robinson, Production Manager

Sarah is our well-travelled delegate, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia but she claims Banner Elk, NC as her hometown.  She is experienced in music, theatre and opera and combines all three at her job at Ford’s Theatre.  Her karaoke song is Ace of Base’s “The Sign” and identifies as neither a hunter nor gatherer, but as a builder.  Watch out!  We have an out-of-the-box thinker over here!  She considers herself very lucky to be marrying the love of her life next month so we’ll all be sure to bother her a lot until then wish her all the best!


Colleen Holroyd, Finance Director
Colleen Holroyd, Finance Director

Colleen is from upstate New York and comes from a long history in folk music (she started working on the junior crew at a festival at age 6!).  If she could throw a parade she’d politely decline, but her special talent is having a song for everything.  I think I see parade potential there.  She’d wash the windows of the Washington monument for the remaining balance of her school debt… any takers?!  Her ideal epic rap battle would be “Julie Andrews vs. _________  …oh let’s face it. Julie Andrews would win.”


Laura London, Vice Chair and Development Director

Laura calls Bethesda, MD home and has a musical background in cello performance and teaching.  When she’s not dreaming up new ways to appeal to EALS donors, she works with the Embassy Series here in town too.  She would throw a low brass parade because “who wouldn’t want to hear 5,000 tubas plowing down the street?”.  She says she’s lucky for being an official adult and getting to eat chocolate whenever she wants.  She is a real bargainer because she says she would wash the monument windows for  “no amount of money. I would only do it if Brad Pitt did it with me, making sure I didn’t fall of course … or Yo Yo Ma … or Obama.”

Erin Clark Quinlan
Erin Clark Quinlan, Executive Chair

Hey, that’s me!  I had to cut the handsome guy next to me out of the photo because, you know, it’s all about me, #womeninleadership.  I am a proud Kentucky native and have a background in modern dance and art education but have a newfound passion in conferences and special events.  My karaoke song is “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and I am most definitely a gatherer.  I gather everything: fresh produce, good friends, my emotions most of the time.  I am terribly lucky to have been granted the honor of being this year’s EALS Chair and to have these wonderful women by my side.

Salutations for a great year and be sure to check back as this is just the first of many fun reads to come from EALS 2015!

Not only is EALS dedicated to creating a forum for the hottest topics in arts management, but we pride ourselves in learning and experiencing everything we can about the exciting topics coming your way for EALS 2014.  That is one of the many reasons we went as a committee, along with some other fellow students, to see Company E‘s production of “Voices” last weekend.  Company E is a Washington-based dance company whose mission is to build diplomatic relationships through dance residencies and co-creation all over the globe.  We were so fascinated by this rare stateside performance and couldn’t wait to learn more about their mission from one of this year’s EALS panelists and Company E dancer and Company Manager, Tara Compton.

Of course, we were so awestruck by the riveting performance that we couldn’t help but respond… through what else, but ART!  Our very own and oh-so-talented committee members, Christina Girardi and Joshua Midgett, shared the following art reactions with me and I couldn’t be more impressed.  Both pieces reflect on Company E’s “Alma”.

Watercolor illustration by EALS Finance Assistant, Christina Girardi
Watercolor illustration by EALS Finance Assistant, Christina Girardi

Apples. Everywhere.

In the market they mean what they mean.

On stage, I suppose they’re more.

Am I seeing original sin? Magritte’s The Son of Man?

In my mind I see the teacher’s gift.

I see childhood summer treats, when the ice cream man didn’t come.

I see youth.

And so I watch as dancer’s fight to move and grasp this youth.

I feel how hard it is to gather memory and move amongst it.

And I see the frustration of trying to share these with those you love and watching them chew and spit them out.

Youth is hard to let go of. Aging makes love difficult.

All this spelled with difficulty on the bodies of two splendid dancers.

-Joshua Midgett, EALS Finance Chair

Another diplomacy-in-action feat I’m thrilled to share is from our Executive Assistant, Jessica Ferey.  She recently returned from a whirlwind week in Versailles, which she recounts here:

One thing they might not tell you about grad school is the importance of the connections you make through classmates. I never thought I’d be heading to France as part of my experience at AU, but there I was, standing in the same theatre where Marie-Antoinette once stood. This all came about when Charlie Rohlfs, a current Arts Management student, former EALS committee member, and now employee at Opera Lafayette, knew that I spoke French and asked if I’d like to interview for a production assistant/translator position to help during the company’s upcoming residency in Versailles. This was one of those opportunities you just can’t pass up and I was soon on a plane to France.

As soon as the stage managers and I arrived at the theatre, the technical director looked down at our shoes disapprovingly and said, “Those won’t do.” Due to a recent accident in the theatre, Opéra Royal had become very strict about security measures, so we were required to purchase steel-toed boots and always wear a construction helmet while working backstage. The French crew was an amazing dedicated bunch, working tirelessly to ensure that our set went up, props were organized, costumes were steamed and ready, and that our show would go off without a hitch.

A view of the stage from the audience’s perspective.

My job, then, was to ensure smooth communication between the US team and the French crew. Luckily, I had interned in a French theatre back in undergrad and had a basic knowledge of French technical theatre terms. It was important to be as clear and specific as possible. Despite a few minor misunderstandings, we managed to find ways to communicate with one another, even if it meant using over-exaggerated hand gestures and speaking “frenglish” half the time. And sometimes it wasn’t even worth trying to think of a French word because they were already using the English word (the person in the light booth, for example, is called a “lighter,” and when you have an extra prop it’s called a “spare”… go figure).

The best part of this experience was learning about the special welfare/unemployment system set up specifically for artists and technical crewmembers working in the performing arts called “intermittent du spectacle.” From what I understand, these folks have to prove that they can work a certain number of hours for a performing arts company, and once they’ve done so, they earn the title of “intermittent” and receive unemployment benefits when they are not currently working on a show (as long as they still work a certain number of hours within the year). This means that artists, designers, and technical crewmembers can focus on artistic work instead of waiting tables. Of course, this system is constantly threatened by France’s struggling economy and it is unclear whether it can be sustained. In the meantime, the crew I worked with seemed pleased with the fact that they could work within the performing arts without worrying too much about how to put bread on the table.

Another major cultural difference has to do with work ethic and the notion of taking breaks. Here in the US, we tend to just go go go and rarely find the time to enjoy lunch away from our desks. In France, however, lunch and dinner breaks are not just an option, they are often mandatory. At around noon or 1pm everyday, the French crew dropped what they were doing and took an hour-long lunch break. Many of them were surprised when the US team and I worked through lunch and all we did was gobble down a granola bar. While many are quick to say that the French are lazy because of this, I disagree. By taking breaks, the French crew was much more effective and still got everything done. It was a good reminder of the old saying, “The Americans live to work and the French work to live.”

All in all, that whirlwind week was an unforgettable experience and a great lesson in cultural diplomacy!

Me and part of the crew. This was taken after striking the set – what a great team to work with!

-Jessica Ferey, EALS Executive Assistant

You can see that we’re getting our hands dirty by participating and responding to Arts and Diplomacy.  These experiences just leave us wanting more, which is why we are counting down until the Arts and Diplomacy panel at the Symposium on March 23rd.

Check out who will be joining us for the panel:

Arts & Diplomacy Panel

Our world continues to shrink while our collective creativity abounds. Washington DC, a hub for international activity and exchange, boasts some of the most influential diplomacy organizations and programs in the world. This discussion will center on how we, as a leading nation, link to other countries and cultures through artistic mediums. How can music, theater, dance, and the visual arts evolve our dialogue and bridge cultural gaps? Representatives from arts organizations making significant diplomatic contributions will fuel this discussion on how art crosses borders.


Dr. Curtis Sandberg (Senior Vice President for the Arts, Meridian International Center) holds a B.A. in Classical Archaeology from the University of California, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. He has been involved in archaeological projects in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Sandberg has extensive museum experience in a variety of fields, including research, curation, collections oversight, and archival management. He is an expert in coalition building among cultural entities, which includes creating over 200 collaborations with international and domestic institutions. Sandberg has lectured widely on these topics in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Prior to joining Meridian in 1996, he taught at Harvard University and at the John Burroughs School, Saint Louis, Missouri, and has lectured at national conferences, as well as at museums, diplomatic missions, and cultural organizations throughout the United States. Sandberg was a Rotary International Fellow, a Fulbright-Hayes Fellow, a Harvard Sinclair-Kennedy Fellow, and a Whiting Fellow.

Tara Compton (Company Manager/Artistic Associate, Company E) is currently a resident of Washington, DC where she is one of the founding staff members of Company E. She resided in Tampa, FL for five years prior, getting her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of South Florida and working with the Tampa Bay Ballet and Cirque du Soleil. Tara has spent time studying and choreographing in multiple locations throughout Europe and the Americas. She has been an assistant teacher at Broadway Dance Center in NYC and is currently a guest faculty member for Dance Masters of America.

She has choreographed and acted as a rehearsal director for multiple performances in her hometown of Louisville, Ky at the Kentucky Center for the Arts and has been recognized by Dance Masters of the Bluegrass as one of the emerging choreographers of the Midwest. Tara’s profound interest in art and international relations, as well as experience in marketing and communications, have all come together in working for Company E, and she is very excited to be a part of the artistic excellence that graces the Washington dance scene.

Stephen Estrada (Fine Artist) worked for two years as Project Coordinator for the US Department of State’s Diplomacy Center before taking over as Director from 2005 – 2012. Previous roles include Chief of Design for the National Air and Space Museum, Senior Designer for the National Archives, and work with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery.

As an artist, Mr. Estrada has had exhibitions at Cornell Museum of Art, ArtSpace Gallery, Delaplaine Art Center, Gallery 555, Gala Arts, Dadian Gallery, Wholefarth Gallery, 901 E Street Gallery, and Easton Arts Center among others.

A graduate of American University and the Corcoran School of Art, Mr. Estrada taught for three years in George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program.


Joshua Midgett  is currently a Master of Arts in Arts Management candidate as well as pursuing his Graduate Certificate in International Arts Management, both at American University. He’s only recently returned from an academic sojourn at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where he studied Cultural Tourism. He holds two undergraduate degrees from Keene State College in Economics and Directing. Prior to studying at American, Joshua served in various managerial capacities with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Glimmerglass Festival, Oasis Productions, and Foodplay, Inc. Since coming to D.C. he has had the pleasure of working with the DeVos Institute at the Kennedy Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre, and the Young Playwright’s Theater. He is an amalgam of organizational and creative passion and has an unrivaled love of cereal.

For more Arts and Diplomacy and other topics that are sure to peak your interest, join us at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on March 23rd, 2014.  Click here for more info.

Erin Clark is a 1st year MA Candidate in Arts Management at AU and the EALS Events Assistant.

The Year of Seven.

Copyright All rights reserved by Flickr user Lincolnian (Brian)


Welcome to 2014 – the year of the Sochi Olympics, the year we supposedly withdraw our combat troops from Afghanistan, and the year of the seventh annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University.

Fittingly, according to numerology, 2014 is a “seven year” (2+0+1+4 = 7), meaning a year of introspection. As I think about this in terms of the arts sector, it seems quite fitting. It’s a complex and fascinating time to be in the “content business” and it seems that arts organizations are embarking on a period of looking inward and questioning whether or not our core values are being reflected in and supported by the structures within which we reside.

With the rise of the hybrid business model, arts organizations are beginning to look inward for revenue streams as outward sources (public and private funding) are becoming more competitive and less available. In her article for Nonprofit Hub, Jill Havlat calls the current marketplace “ripe for a productive disruption like this one.” Innovative arts organizations are beginning to look to for-profit models to feed their work. An exciting example that was brought up at last week’s APAP Conference is Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis which offers a restaurant, bowling alley, and live theatre performance.

It can get tricky, this merging of nonprofit and for-profit models. Where does the organization’s mission come into play? Who are the “investors” or “donors” and what are their incentives and benefits? And where do we turn now for capital?

In this year of seven, the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium marks its seventh year. And with all these questions and complexities surrounding “The Rise of the Hybrid” it’s only fitting we should host a panel around it. More details to follow as we solidify panelists, but in the meantime, get your wheels turning and your questions ready.

The SEVENTH annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University is March 23, 2014. Save the date and stay tuned for registration information.

Shannon Musgrave is in her second year of American University’s Arts Management Master’s Program and is this year’s Executive Chair for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium.

Celebrate the Season with EALS!

It’s that time of year –

When the world falls in love…

When this becomes grad students’ lives…

And when everyone is ready for a cup of cheer!

Join us on Thursday, December 12 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at The Coupe to celebrate the season, catch up with alum, and give each other commemoratory high fives on a semester well done.

As I get closer and closer to the finish line, the momentary spurts of panic and stress are far outweighed by the immense feelings of gratitude, wisdom, and humility I’ve gained from pursuing this degree. People who dedicate their time (jeopardize their sleep schedules, sacrifice their social lives) to the creation, maintenance, and resiliency of the arts are my favorite kind of people. Day in and day out, defending the arts’ impact on our communities, supporting and nurturing artists, energizing and motivating Boards of Directors, making cases for financial support even to the toughest prospects, and all the while protecting a very personal love and passion for the art itself. It can be a tricky balance. So let’s all have a drink.

Some beautiful and delicious drinks Heather, Charlie, and I got on a recent visit to The Coupe
Some beautiful and delicious drinks Heather, Charlie, and I ordered on a recent visit to The Coupe.

Event details:

  • Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:30 – 8:30 pm
  • The Coupe –
    3415 11th Street NW | Washington DC 20010
  • $10 wristbands for drink discounts @ the bar and a chance to win a holiday gift basket (available for advance purchase here) – all proceeds benefit programming for the 2014 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium!

We hope to see you there!

(And to everyone braving finals this week and next – may the road rise up to meet you.)

Shannon Musgrave is in her second year of AU’s Arts Management program and serves as this year’s Executive Chair of the EALS Committee.

Home is Where the HeART is.

It starts with the satellite forms of art, the ones infused with layers of function and economic stimulus. From the minute you’re off the plane, ship, or dirigible you gape at the architecture, wriggle your nose at the new foods, and giggle at the accents. All of these things are fresh in the beginning, but are the first to fade to your new normal. You begin to accidentally imitate some words and phrases, you accumulate favourite culinary delicacies (L&P), and the buildings and streets signs once so foreign quickly become markers you plan your trips by.

Then, it’s the public art, the camera candy that inevitably becomes your Facebook profile picture much as it has for the other 862 wanderers that whipped out their iPhones and made a silly face that day. You scout them out at first, these gems you’d convinced yourself you’d never find, and check them off your bucket list. These are the Eiffel Towers, the London Eyes, and the Hollywood signs of the world. The cultural synecdoche that is as much the place as the place is it. It’s only when you’ve checked off the ones you knew before you got there that you begin to find the others. The fountains hidden in the deep of the park, the sculptures in random alleyways, and the cement quotes that decorate the city. All of these begin to create a collage on your camera roll, and they accumulate as an intangible imprint, an indescribable piece of the definition of this place.

‘Solace In The Wind’ by Max Patte. Waterfront. Wellington. Continue reading “Home is Where the HeART is.”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑