Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

+ ART.


American University

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.  

Join us for the 40th Anniversary celebration of Arts Management at AU!

As you may or may not know, EALS lives at American University in its Arts Management program.  We are fortunate enough to be students during a very special time of celebration.  This year, Arts Management at AU celebrates its 40th Anniversary and cheers on its future to 40+ more years of fun and learning.  Here at EALS we are truly proud of our program’s history and prestige as one of the greatest programs in the nation.

Also, the 40th Anniversary couldn’t help but want in on our #TBT action from last week so we’ve included some wonderful photos of students like us from the past.  You can find out more about the anniversary celebration happening next weekend and register for the event here.  Events of the weekend are listed below.

Students with internship binder (1)

Join former classmates, professors, and fellow alumni to commemorate 40 years of extraordinary arts and cultural managers.

See old friends and relive memories while making new connections, sharing innovations and accomplishments, and touching base with your artistic roots. We will laugh, learn, and live it up as only arts management professionals can – a toast to another 40 years of excellence!

Friday, October 24

Fall 2014 is a hot time for the DC arts scene. Through the generosity of our local alumni and colleagues, the following events are available a discounted rate for am@au affiliates (or they were already free!). Connect with your former classmates through the Facebook event page and get a group together to see some art!

Saturday, October 25

Katzen Arts Center, American University

11:00am – 12:00pm | Breezeway


11:45am – 1:30pm | Rotunda

Monica Hazangeles (1996), President, Strathmore

in partnership with AU Alumni Relations

2:00pm – 3:15pm | Studio Theatre

Speed Networking

3:30pm – 5:00pm | Studio Theatre

Bragging Rights

an interactive session with dog & pony dc

5:30pm – 7:30pm | Katzen Museum

Cocktail party

Arts Management students at Wolftrap
Arts Management students at Wolftrap

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!

Fulbright Scholar to Present at American University

“Russian Repertory Theatre: the business side of the stage” will address the features of the institutional model of the most widely disseminated type of theatre enterprise in Russia, and discuss the interdependence of economic and artistic components in the scenic arts.

Gureev_300x300_headshot (1)The presentation comprises a historic overview of the theatre business in Russia, and introduces a discourse about sustainability and modernization of the extensive network of state theatres.

Russian’s outstanding theatre art enjoys a reserved solid position in the cultural realm both nationally and internationally. Historically, government funding has played a major role in the public support of imperial and Soviet theatre. Sweeping transformations of the post-Soviet times, however, have brought an abundance of unexplored opportunities and looking threats. These have forced theatres to reinvent their modes of operation.

Register for this event at

German Gureev is a Fulbright fellow from Russia and a current Scholar-in-residence in the AU Arts Management program. He is conducting a yearlong research on business models of the American theatre towards his Ph.D. in Theatre Arts at St. Petersburg Theatre Academy.

He worked for several years in the position of a tour director at a ballet company, and previously as a deputy director for repertory at a drama company in St.Petersburg. German graduated from the Performing Arts Management Graduate Program of the St. Petersburg Theatre Academy, where he later served as an adjunct faculty. He is also a recipient of a fellowship of the International Society for the Performing Arts.

When: March 22. 5:30pm
Where: American University, Katzen Arts Center, Room 112

Register at

Arts Advocacy 101: Learn the Language

by Ethan R. Clark

Welcome to Washington, DC the center of policy, politics, and protesters. Learn how to make your case for the arts at Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) on April 15, 2012. Organized by American University Arts Management students, EALS provides you with professional collaboration and leading discussion on today’s arts management trends including arts advocacy.

EALS Panel discussion, Arts Advocacy 101: Learn the Languagefeatures DC’s leading experts in research, policy, and communication.  Learn the potential effects of research and policy on arts organizations. Know your role as an arts advocate to build and maintain successful civic and government relationships.  Apply your knowledge and experience to current and available data to distinguish your organization’s public message.

Anne L'Ecuyer

Anne L’Ecuyer

Professor of Arts Management at American University

Moderator Anne L’Ecuyer is a writer and a consultant who stays closely connected to an international network of city leaders, cultural professionals, and working artists. She is an expert in creative industries and cultural tourism in the United States, as well as the contributions of the arts toward educational, social, and environmental goals. L’Ecuyer’s experience producing seven national conferences and leadership events for cultural professionals and their allies in government, business, and education guides this panel with a perspective from across the board.

Today, Anne owns and operates the Washington Writer’s Retreat, a private writing and research residency in the nation’s capital. She is an essayist currently at work on a book-length collection that profiles cultural leaders in ten American cities. Anne also consults independently with businesses, nonprofits, and public institutions. She holds a Bachelors degree from Northern Arizona University, studied public policy at the University of Maryland at College Park, and now teaches at American University in the Arts Management program.

Jonathan Katz

Jonathan Katz

CEO of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Jonathan Katz, Ph.D., is CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), which was created by the 50 state and six jurisdictional arts agencies of the United States as their primary vehicle for arts policy development, advocacy, leadership development, research, information and communication. Dr. Katz consults globally on cultural policy, leadership development, strategic planning and effective advocacy. A former member of the U.S. Commission on UNESCO, he has advised the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies on its corporate development and facilitated its CEO Seminar for heads of national arts and cultural agencies at World Summits in England, South Africa and Australia.

Most recently, he has advised the governments of Korea and Canada and led a session on problem solving for Grantmakers in the Arts in Chicago. He is a founder of the Arts Education Partnership, the nation’s coalition of more than 100 organizations for the advancement of learning in the arts, and of the Cultural Advocacy Group, which is the forum through which the national cultural service organizations of the U.S. develop their united federal agenda. For the U.S. Department of State, he has conducted planning and professional development sessions with culturalagencies in five cities in Mexico. 

Robert Bettmann

Robert Bettmann

Advocacy Director for DC Advocates for the Arts

Robert Bettmann is a choreographer, community organizer, writer and administrator. He is the Advocacy Director for the DC Advocates for the Arts, Managing Editor of the arts magazine Bourgeon, and the author of the book Somatic Ecology. The Washington Post called his recent choreography, Quis Custodiet, “A powerful performance” (August, 2011). Later this spring the Arts Club of Washington will host the book launch and award event for the 2nd annual DC Student Arts Journalism competition.

Andrea Kreuzer

Andrea Kreuzer

Program Associate of Arts Education Partnership

Panelist Andrea Kreuzer is a Program Associate for Research and Policy at the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), based in Washington, DC. At AEP she has a substantial role in developing and authoring a new user-friendly database of outcomes-based arts education research and policy implications, called ArtsEdSearch. She’s also working with the U.S. Department of Education’s Professional Development for Arts Educators Program to develop and implement a rubric to assess the quality and effectiveness of grantee Annual Progress Reports. Andrea also co-wrote the AEP Research Bulletin, Music Matters: How music education helps students learn, achieve, and succeed which compiles and digests recent research on the benefits of music education.

Andrea received her Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies from The George Washington University and her Bachelor of Sciences degree in Photography and Art History from Ithaca College. Before coming to AEP Andrea worked in museum research and evaluation, and in exhibition development and design at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and the National Geographic Society.

Jeffrey Herrmann

Jeffrey Herrmann

Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Panelist Jeffrey Herrmann became Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in 2007 after eight seasons as Producing Director of Alaska’s Perseverance Theatre.  A NY native of Schenectady, NY, Jeffrey grew up in West Hartford, CT, and received his BA in English at Vassar College and his MFA in Theater Management at the Yale School of Drama.  Prior to his enrollment at Yale, he was Managing Director of the Albany Berkshire Ballet in Pittsfield, MA.  During his time at Yale, he worked at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and as Associate Managing Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre.

Curious about trends and issues in arts policy and advocacy? Do you have questions for our panelists? Got anything in particular you want to hear from these panelists?

Share with us and bring the questions to the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on Sunday, April 15, 2012. See you there!

Learn from Arts Management Legends

There’s less than a month to go before American University’s fifth annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS) which promises to be an engaging event with a record number of speakers and panels.

Photo: Cedric Terrell.
Photo: Cedric Terrell.

EALS caters to budding professionals in the arts and features networking opportunities, a keynote address, and professional development panels run by industry leaders. The event will be held at American University on April 15. “It is a one-day opportunity to not only learn and to network, but also to open doors for the future, for professional programs, academic degrees, and jobs,” says Vennesa Yung, EALS executive committee chair.

This year, EALS will culminate with a keynote address by Adrian Ellis, a well-known arts management expert and director of AEA Consulting. Ellis served as executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, before stepping down in 2011. “We are thrilled to bring him to DC from New York and to learn from his vast experience in international arts management,” says Yung.

To raise money and awareness about the symposium, the planning committee hosted a fundraiser in February at the local Studio Gallery for the second year in a row. According to Yung, the goals of the event were to publicize and fundraise for EALS, as well as to mingle with arts managers and enthusiasts in a welcoming, social setting. “We had over 70 people in attendance, and it was about double the size of the fundraiser last year,” Yung adds. “The size was appropriate because this year, EALS is larger and will include more panels and panelists than it has in the last four years.”

The panels will address diverse topics including international arts management, creative collaborations, running start-up nonprofits, communication in the arts, and nonprofit management. Chad Bauman, the associate director of marketing and membership at the Smithsonian Associates, will deliver EALS’ first plenary address. “We are honored to have Chad Bauman, most recently with Arena Stage and now with the Smithsonian Institution, who is a leader in marketing and communications in the arts world, ” Yung says.

Don’t miss this year’s symposium. Registration for the 2012 EALS is still open. Visit the EALSwebsite for more information.

After April, arts managers can continue EALS-inspired discussions through EALS’ many social media channels, including its blogTwitterFacebook feeds.

Beyond the Bottom Line: Running a Non-Profit in a For-Profit World

In this volatile economy, nonprofits are often last and hardest hit by financial downturns. How do they stay fiscally viable and mission-focused when faced with dwindling funding?  Are there aspects of the nonprofit model that are advantageous when compared to the for-profit model, specifically concerning the arts? What features of for-profits would be beneficial to integrate into the nonprofit world?

Is there a better way to manage arts organizations?

These incredible power-houses of the DC Arts Scene will answer these questions and more come the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on April 15th:

Jack Rasmussen

Director of Art Gallery & Curator of the American University Museum at the 
Katzen Gallery. A native of Seattle, Jack Rasmussen earned his BA in Art from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, before moving to Washington, DC, and completing an MFA in Painting, MA in Arts Management, and MA and PhD in Anthropology at American University. He worked in the Education Department of the National Gallery of Art before becoming the Assistant Director of the Washington Project for the Arts when it opened in 1975.

He left this position to open the Jack Rasmussen Gallery, one of the first commercial galleries to move to downtown Washington, and then launched Rockville Arts Place, served for ten years as the Executive Director of Maryland Art Place in Baltimore, and three years as Executive Director of the di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, a contemporary art museum and natural habitat in Napa, California.

Rasmussen is currently Director and Curator of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. (Bio From In The Loop)

B. Stanley

Stanley is an actor, director, pedagogue, puppeteer, and performance artist. He founded Theatre Du Jour in Washington DC in 1982 as an experimental group with an actor-based approach to creating new works. As an actor he has performed with The Living Theatre, Theatre Du Jour, Protean Forms Collective, The Hungry Fetus, The Puppet Company, Cherry Red Productions, Guillermo Gomez Pena, and in a myriad of unusual solo performances with his puppet, Ubu. Influenced by Antonin Artaud, Alfred Jarry, Jerzy Grotowski, Ingemar Lindh and like minds, he has directed a broad array of plays and performances, including Peter Handke’s Self Accusation, Antonin Artaud’s There Is No More Firmament and The Spurt of Blood, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Cuckolded, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Ossie DavisPurlie Victorious. As director of Theatre Du Jour he had lead many company-created works including Poor Oedipus (an adaptation of the Oedipus story), Tower of Babel, Last Minute, and Ritual Play. He has worked with several poets, including Silvana Straw and Quique Aviles in creating performances that combine literature, acting and multimedia.

Currently, Stanley is Executive/Artistic Director of The District of Columbia Arts Center, where he encourages the development of cutting edge work by new and emerging theater groups in Washington, DC. He conducts workshops on acting, directing and theater production and participates in conferences and seminars abroad with regularity.

Lissa Rosenthal

Rosenthal is a dedicated champion of the arts and a formidable music fan. She is committed to improving the lives of musicians whose work enriches everyone. Lissa brings 20 years of experience in arts leadership, advocacy and nonprofit development to her role as Executive Director of the Future of Music Coalition.

Prior to joining FMC, she was a marketing and fundraising consultant and the Development Director of the Pittsburgh Glass Center,  Director of Programs for the American Council for the Arts (Americans for the Arts), Development Director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center — an affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

As a social justice advocate, she has served as the National Program Director for PAX: Real Solutions to Gun Violence where she directed its highly acclaimed national public health campaigns dedicated to reducing youth gun violence in America, including SPEAK UP — a teen violence prevention initiative in partnership with Teen People Magazine, MTVNetworks and Atlantic Records.

She has also worked extensively in AIDS fundraising and event production, raising millions of dollars and awareness for AIDS service organizations nationwide. Her volunteer service includes work with Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation program, ranking her among their most effective national advocates. A promoter of all things green, she has authored several “green” cover features for Pittsburgh Magazine. (Bio From Dance USA)

Katherine Gibney

Kate Gibney joined the staff of Americans for the Arts in April 2006. As vice president of development, she oversees all fundraising undertaken on behalf of Americans for the Arts, collaborating closely with the Board of Directors, program staff, and senior leadership to create new opportunities for corporations, foundations, and individuals to support the organization’s goal of advancing the arts and arts education. Kate also coordinates development for the Americans for the Arts Foundation, which provides an array of planned giving vehicles for donors interested in providing legacy support for Americans for the Arts.

Kate brings to her role a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from her past tenures at The National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery; and The Corcoran Gallery of Art, where she oversaw a corporate and foundation relations team focused on both annual and capital campaign fundraising. A singer in her spare time and an avid patron of the visual arts, Kate earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from Guilford College.

Participate in this and other amazing panels during the upcoming Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on April 15. You may find the schedule of the Symposium here. Register here.

You made it to graduate school…now what?

You have made a decision, and perhaps a leap of faith, to go to graduate school. You do your research, visit some schools, talk to faculty and current students, apply and get accepted into your dream program. Voila. You are now a student in an arts management program (in my case, at American University in Washington, D.C.)

Now what?

There is no perfect recipe for success that works for everyone but here are a few tips and advices from some brilliant and passionate arts professionals as well as from my personal (well, professional) experience:


You are likely to meet people from various very interesting professional backgrounds in your graduate program. Start with this inner circle. For example, my classmates include a database manager for a non-profit, a development associate at a museum, an orchestra manager, a stage manager, a music teacher, and an actor/ director of a theatre group etc., and they have 0 to over 20 years of experience in the field. Not only you can learn from their experiences and share your own, you can also meet their friends and colleagues and expand your circle.

Another circle that you might not think of immediately is the alumni network of your program. In our case, we not only have an active email listserv of current students and alumni from the program, we also have an active Facebook group that news articles, arts issues, and events etc are posted by current students, alumni and sometimes professors. These alumni have been in your program and made their interests and passions into their careers. Learn from them – from course recommendations to where to eat in town, from job searches to which conferences to go to, they are a wealth of knowledge that you ought to take advantage of, then you can pay it forward to future students when you are out in the real world (again).

Another “inner circle” not to neglect is your program faculty. Schedule meetings with them or take them out for coffee, then learn about their experiences and tell them what you are interested in. You may not wish to teach in graduate school in the future but these professors most likely have connections in the field or were arts managers prior to becoming professors. They can give great advice in where to begin looking and networking as well as make introductions to help you get to where you wish to be.



For some people, going to graduate school requires moving to a new city or even a new country. If that is the case, networking is like killing two birds with one stone. You meet a group of like-minded professionals who most likely understand your pains and gains of working (or the desire to do so) in the arts. They have been there and done that. Introduce yourself to them (do you have an elevator speech yet?) and ask them about how they get to where they are. They are usually happy to share with you their experiences and give advice, and sometimes lend a hand in making introductions and even letting you know about job openings in their institutions.

In Washington D.C., networking opportunities are endless. Emerging Arts Leaders DC(in affliation with Americans for the Arts) and, if you are interested in working in museums, the D.C. Emerging Museum Professionals are two of the many active professional groups in town with multiple events each month. Get involved!

Although there isn’t a school requirement for you to go to an EALDC networking First Friday lunch or a DCEMP happy hour, I suggest you to go whenever you can as these informal conversations often lead you to people and opportunities that you might not have expected.

Feeling a little too shy for impromptu conversations at happy hours? Go to the career development events with less talking and more listening then. I recently attended a DCEMP career development workshop on interview skills – not only I learnt a lot about interviewing, I also got to meet some great people, most of them either looking for their first jobs out of graduate school or those who are looking to transition into a new area in the field.



Are you more of a listener and need a little warming up before you feel like networking? You have got plenty of options as well! Look for conferences, symposiums, webinars and colloquia online and ask around for recommendations. Good places to start looking are websites of Americans for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, and other graduate programs in your area.

I have attended and volunteered at many of such events and have met so many great people and learnt so much that I cannot possibly explain in one blog entry. Many conferences offer student discounts, scholarships and fellowships so do not let the registration price tag deter you. If all else fails, there is always the option of volunteering for a conference. Trust me, it never hurts to ask, the worst answer you can get is a “no” but you might just met your new friend or mentor from that conversation. You can often volunteer for one day of a conference to be able to register for a discounted price or for free for the rest of the conference. My experiences from these conferences have always been very positive, and I highly recommend volunteering to anyone new to the arts world.

Got a full-time job and a big student loan or simply don’t have time to travel? Again, fret not, there are still many ways to get involved. There are often affordable (or free) webinars, webcasts of panels and conferences, webchats, tweetups and slideshows available for view online. Good places to look are Guidestar, Foundation Center, idealist, National Arts Marketing Project etc, in addition to the websites mentioned above.

The arts management program at American University hosts the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium annually right before Americans for the Arts’ Arts Advocacy Days. This year, the Symposium will be held on Sunday, April 15, 2012. Participants from DC and around the country have always said it’s a great opportunity to meet current leaders in the field (who are usually speakers and panelists) as well as to network with other emerging professionals.  Registration is currently available online here and we sure hope to see you this April!   



If you are ready for some one-on-one time with people in positions you dream to be in, it is time for some informational interviews. For example, if you aspire to be a gallery director, visit galleries and do research on directors and managers of these galleries. Meet them at an open house or send them an email to ask if you can meet them for coffee or in their office to ask a few (well-prepared) questions about their professional experiences.

I recently did an informational interview with a director of a gallery that I would love to work for in the future and it was just a great experience chatting with him and learning about how he got to where he is now. These chats will help you prepare for better-focused job searches and better-prepared interviews. Although I do not see myself being a registrar or collections manager of a museum in the future, I had an informational interview with a collections manager at one of the art museums at the Smithsonian (whom I met at one of the conferences) to better understand the work of her department, as well as how it fits into the greater picture of museum management. And I came out of the meeting having learnt those things and more. In short, keep an open mind and do not let someone’s job title determine your interest – you might learn something you do not expect in each encounter!

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you, my fellow colleagues-in-training. Do share your experiences in networking in the comments below. Good luck with your journey ahead and hope to see you at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium this April 15!

Get a paid arts fellowship with Art Cart

by China Marks, an Art Cart artist

Want a prestigious, paid fellowship in the arts? Join Art Cart: Saving the Legacy, an intergenerational arts legacy project that connects aging professional artists with teams of students to undertake the preparation and preservation of their creative work. The pilot program began last year at Columbia University and will launch again in New York City and through a consortium of universities in Washington, D.C. next fall. Art Cart is open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines.

Benefits for Art Cart Fellows:

• Earn academic credit by taking part in a two-semester program with interdisciplinary students

• Partner with a locally based professional visual artist to document his or her life’s work

• Receive a stipend for your work

• Learn to use archival software used by major museums and galleries to catalog and organize collections

• Work with partners at other area arts institutions

• Be on the ground floor of a project that will be replicated throughout the nation

• Help preserve the cultural legacy of American visual artists

To learn more, attend the information session on February 27, 3-4:30:

Blackburn Art Gallery, Howard University, Armour J. Blackburn University Center

2397 Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20059

 To RSVP, please contact

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