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Largest EALS Ever Proves Success

Steven Dawson, EALS Executive Chair, reports on the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium and the growth the organization has seen. From article written for American University News.

Once again, the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University has proven to be a smashing success. The Symposium, known by the acronym EALS, is in its sixth year of existence. The event is an annual meeting of students and young professionals who work in the arts that is held at American University. As national partners with Americans for theealsoutside Arts, EALS is the official kick off for Arts Advocacy Day, and is held the day before.

It is an opportunity to engage in quality discussion about issues, unique or universal, that affect arts organizations with students, peers, and experienced leaders in the field. Past keynote speakers have included Rachel Goslins, Ben Cameron, Bob Lynch, and Adrian Ellis. All symposium activities and planning is organized and executed by a selected committee of American University Arts Management students.

The framework of EALS 2013 was “Looking to the Horizon.” Each speaker and panel discussed the new and innovative strategies and ideas coming down the road in each of the topics addressed that day. These topics included international arts management, marketing, audience engagement, career advancement, innovative organization models, and fundraising.

As the Executive Chair, I am elated to report that EALS 2013 was by far the largest and most successful Symposium ever. Counting the speakers, attendees, staff, and volunteers, 225 people walked through the doors on Sunday, April 7. That proved to be well over double last year’s number, a record growth for the Symposium. EALS also extended its reach throughout the country. Previous years saw attendees mostly from the surrounding DC metro area and within a few hours’ driving distance. EALS 2013, however, saw attendees from geographical locations spanning the entire eastern coast, the mid-west, and as far west as Utah.

What caused so many people from so many locales to flock to American University? The EALS Executive Committee’s focus on quality programming. At the beginning of the planning process, the Executive Committee made the decision to host big names from the industry that have valuable knowledge and experience to share. Doing so would be a financial gamble, but they had faith that presenting the highest quality programming would pay for itself by attracting more attendees. They were right.

The morning began with opening remarks and a welcome from myself, and jumped right in to the Opening Keynote Address by Karen Brooks Hopkins, the President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Since taking over as president of BAM in 1999, Hopkins has led the organization with stunning competency, riding the waves of financial and philanthropic ups and downs. The annual attendance has exploded, the budget has over doubled, and the organization’s endowment has almost tripled to over $80 million. Her address connected the ideas we were discussing at EALS 2013 with her real and successful organization. A perfect start to the day.

The attendees then split off, as they went to the morning breakout panel session of their choice. One morning panel was International Arts Management. In this panel, Gail 151Humphries Mardirosian (American University), Todd Dellinger (Rider University), Stacy White (US Dept. of State), and Arts Management professor Ximena Varela discussed the newest research and issues in this growing area of the arts.

The other morning panel, Marketing for Today’s Organizations, saw leading marketing specialists discuss new strategies, as well as multiple points of view on some hot topic issues, such as subscription plans. Panelists included JoAnn LaBrecque-French (The Washington Ballet), Jennifer Buzzell (Strathmore), Khady Kamara (Arena Stage), and American University Museum head curator Jack Rasmussen.

After a networking lunch, the attendees split again into their choice of three panels. One afternoon panel, Audience Engagement, discussed the importance of engaging audiences…not selling to them…and the strategies to do so. Those panelists included engagement experts Margy Waller (Topos Partnership), JR Russ (Dance Place), Alli Houseworth (Method 121), Doug Borwick (ArtsEngaged), and AU’s Ximena Varela.

The second afternoon panel provided attendees the opportunity to pick the minds of 201younger arts leaders about starting and advancing their careers in the Career Beginnings and Advancement panel. Panelists included Jojo Ruf (National New Play Network), Christopher K. Morgan (Christopher K. Morgan & Artists), Allison Peck (Freer|Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian), and AU’s Anne L’Ecuyer.

The Innovative Organization Models panel rounded out the afternoon selections. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about some of the most cutting edge organizations, and to pick the minds of the leaders of these organizations. Those leaders were Rachel Grossman (dog&pony DC), Thaddeus Squire (Culture Works Greater Philadelphia), Margaret Boozer (Red Dirt Studio), and AU professor Andrew Taylor.

fr panelAfter a coffee break, attendees headed into the Abramson Family Recital hall to attend a panel that discussed one of the most important parts of arts management, yet one of the most uncomfortable parts: Fundraising. Panelists, moderated by Andrew Taylor, included leading minds in the field: Barbara Ciconte (Donor Strategies), Kendall Ladd (Sitar Arts Center), Pete Miller (Local arts board member and philanthropist), and Russell Willis Taylor (National Arts Strategies)

The day was concluded with Aaron Dworkin’s Closing Keynote Address. Dworkin is the founder and President of The Sphinx Organization, the leading organization focused on cultural diversity in the arts, and President Obama’s first ever appointee to the National Council for the Arts. His poignant dworkinand invigorating address discussed racial access to the fine arts, and how we as arts leaders must work to make the arts represent the true diversity that is the United States.

For more information on the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, and to hear audio recordings of the conference, visit http://www.american.edu/cas/arts-management/eals/index.cfm.

Below is the map of EALS 2013 attendee geographical locations. Where did you come from?

Attendee Geographical Locaitons
Attendee Geographical Locaitons
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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:

1. START FROM YOUR ACADEMIC PROGRAM

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.

 

2. EMERGING (INSERT FIELD) PROFESSIONAL GROUPS

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.

 

3. CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIUMS, LECTURES, WEBINARS…YOU NAME IT

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!   

 

4. INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS

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!

What Makes a Good Arts Leader?

Michael Wilkerson: Assistant Professor of Arts Management at AU (Moderator)
Ian David Moss: Research Director, Fractured Atlas, and founder of Createquity.com
Jamie Bennett: Director of Public Affairs, NEA
Stephanie Evans Hanson: Local Arts Agency Program Coordinator, Americans for the Arts
Michael Bobbitt: Producing Artistic Director, Adventure Theatre, and President of the League of Washington Theatres

PODCAST

We have all heard of the need for strong leadership in the arts field, especially as we encounter an era in which large numbers of arts managers are beginning to retire, thus leaving control to a new generation of leaders. What exactly is it, however, that makes a good leader? What makes a leader an effective force within his or her organization? What are the forces and issues that the leaders of tomorrow will need to address? How does technology affect leadership? And beyond the organization, how can a leader in the arts be an effective leader within the larger community? More importantly, why is it vital that arts leaders be leaders within their communities?

Find more amazing EALS podcasts HERE

Creative Conversations

There are still plenty Creative Conversations left this National Arts and Humanities Month!

What are Creative Conversations? Gatherings of people across the country working to bring the importance of the arts into the the public awareness of all Americans. This program was created in 2004 as a part of The Emerging Leaders Network. All interested  arts leaders and interested individuals are invited to participate.  This is a tool of empowerment and will only become better and more useful if we participate.

TODAY TRY AND MAKE IT:

Webinar: Community Engagement in the Arts

2:00 PM EDT
Webinar Online (Washington, DC)
Join Americans for the Arts in our own Creative Conversation webinar about community engagement and the arts.  How do you change the conversation in your community by activating creativity to engage residents and increase participation in community events?  Americans for the Arts is hostin

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