Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium

+ ART.


Arts Leaders

Finding the Right Questions

Jamie McCrary is in her second year of the Arts Management Masters Program at American University. Here, she shares her experience of attending the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on March 23, 2014. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my arts management peers and colleagues at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS). Held at the American University Katzen Arts Center on Sunday, March 23, 2014, EALS is an annual gathering of arts management professionals who are committed to examining issues, trends, and innovations in the field. An entirely student-run event, the symposium was organized and coordinated by a committee of AU arts management students, a group of individuals I am lucky enough to call my classmates and my friends. EALS was the culmination of two semesters of hard work for them, which was reflected in the quantity and quality of symposium speakers, panelists, and attendees.


As a second year in the AU arts management program, much of my coursework is currently focused on summing up and integrating the concepts I’ve learned throughout the program. EALS supported this endeavor by giving me the opportunity to examine problems and challenges different arts management fields face. Featured speakers came from a multiplicity of backgrounds, reflecting perspectives from across all arts areas and professional disciplines. This diversity encouraged me to think differently about the concepts I’ve studied, reminding me that there is not just one way to approach a problem.EALS2014-019

Though EALS is committed to finding answers to major problems in the field, I believe the symposium is also committed to finding the right questions to ask. Often times pinpointing which questions to examine leads to solutions we never considered, encouraging both collaboration and innovation in the field. How can the arts be used as a diplomatic tool in conflict resolution? What specific values are funders looking for in their grant writers? Should the arts consider business models other than the traditional non-profit structure, and, if so, what does this mean for the future of our arts organizations? These are just some of the questions raised at the symposium, and some of the questions that I continue to grapple with following the conclusion of EALS.

When I left the symposium, I felt refreshed, inspired, and thoroughly impressed—both by the speakers I heard and by my classmates who organized the event. While EALS has come and gone, I think it’s important that we realize the symposium is a beginning, not an end. EALS creates a point of entry for us to continue examining issues and finding solutions to the problems we face; and, perhaps realizing that the questions we find are just as important as the answers.


Panel Topic: Effective Leadership & Smooth Transitions

The very lucky among us have had the pleasure of working for a vibrant, inspiring, supportive leader; the kind of person who excites and energizes his staff, or who buoys support for her organization with seemingly effortless charisma. While it may seem like magic, this panel will provide a forum for discussion about strategic, innovative, and effective leadership styles and trends. Additionally, panelists will share their insights about smooth transitions – within an organization, up the ladder, or to another organization altogether.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to register for EALS on Sunday, March 23.This panel will be during our first breakout session, from 11:45am – 1:00pm.

We are happy to announce our esteemed panelists and moderator:

Kim Sajet

Kim Sajet is the director of the National Portrait Gallery. She was appointed to the position in February and officially assumed office April 1. Before joining the Smithsonian, Sajet was the president and CEO of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2013. Previously, she was senior vice president and deputy director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art museum and school in the country. From 1998 until 2001, Sajet was the director of corporate relations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and she served first as curator and then the director of two Australian art museums from 1989 until 1995. In addition to 20 years of arts management experience, she has written a number of scholarly publications, curated permanent-collection and touring exhibitions and spoken at academic symposia. Her most recent publication was on American artists who worked in Dutch art colonies between 1880 and 1914. Check out a recent article in the Washington Post featuring Kim and other leading women in the field.


Fielding Grasty is a Director and Assistant Secretary to the Board for National Arts Strategies (NAS). Fielding leads the development and oversees management of several NAS programs. These include The Chief Executive Program, the Business of Arts and Culture series, and international programs such as the Hong Kong Leadership Training Program for Senior Arts and Culture Executives. He is seminar director for the NAS seminars Finance and Strategic Governance and served as program director and leads the development of NAS online events. As Assistant Secretary to the Board, Fielding has primary staff responsibility for administrative issues related to the Board of Directors. Fielding serves as President of the Board of Directors of Second Street Gallery, a nonprofit contemporary art gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia. He earned a B.A. with Honors in Literature from Eckerd College.


Syrah Gunning works in the training division of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as the Assistant Manager for Fellowships and Internships at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Syrah oversees the strategy and implementation of highly competitive early and mid-career professional development programs including three Fellowships, the Kennedy Center’s Internship program, and the BAM Professional Development Program (a training partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, New York). Prior to her work with the Institute, Syrah received her Masters of Business Administration from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focused on leadership development for the performing arts administration. Prior to Madison, she served as the Special Events Manager at The Baltimore Museum of Art, where she produced events for the Museum’s $65 million campaign and designed an institutional planning process to facilitate collaboration and evaluation across its six divisions.

Sarah Durkee HeadshotSarah Durkee is Vice President of Public Education at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, a position she has held since 2009. Ms. Durkee has worked for the Corcoran for the past 12 years; prior to serving her current role, she held various positions within the institution in education, public programs, and special events. Ms. Durkee is pursuing her M.A. in Arts Management from American University and graduated with highest honors from Bowdoin College with a degree in Art History and International Relations. She has also worked in various capacities with American University Museum at Katzen Arts Center, National Arts Strategies, and as DC Administrative Coordinator for Art Cart: Saving the Legacy, an intergenerational project that documents the work and preserves the legacies of aging artists.

See you Sunday, March 23 for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium!

Panel Topic: Cross-pollination: Arts & _______

Intended to show the limitless possibilities of artistic creation and creative thinking, this conversation will explore art that utilizes unconventional materials, is performed in unexpected locations, and involves partnerships with collaborators who are typically perceived to be outside traditional arts disciplines.  This panel will examine existing cross-pollination between the arts and other fields, highlighting current ideas and best practices to inspire a greater network of creative crossover while at the same time opening doors for more diverse funding streams and audience engagement opportunities.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to register for EALS on Sunday, March 23. This panel will be during our second breakout session, from 2:00 – 3:15pm.

We are happy to announce our esteemed panelists and moderator:

JeanCooneyheadshot Jean Cooney is a project manager for non-profit public arts organization Creative Time in New York City. Since joining Creative Time, she has had the opportunity to work on several large-scale public art projects, taking place in sites ranging from Grand Central Terminal to outer space, with acclaimed artists Nick Cave, Trevor Paglen, Suzanne Lacy, and currently, Kara Walker. Jean received a Masters degree in Visual Arts Administration from New York University in 2012. Prior to New York City, she spent ten years in the Bay Area, where she worked in Oakland-based galleries, and produced a performance and visual arts event series at Grace Cathedral.

 She also holds a B.A. in International Relations from Boston University.


Toni Hiley is the CIA Museum Director, Center for the Study of Intelligence. Ms. Hiley holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland, European Division and received her museum training through the Smithsonian and the US Army’s Center for Military History. She joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999 where she directs the operations of the CIA Museum.
Check out Hiley’s segment on NBC!


Sean M. Starowitz’s work is executed in a variety of social, political, and community engaged contexts. Notable projects include Wheels for Meals, BREAD! KC and The Burnt Ends Residency. He has also explored curatorial projects such as The Speakeasy, and Vagabond, Kansas City’s premiere pop-up restaurant. He has contributed writings to Proximity Magazine and Temporary Art Review, and has lectured at Queens College in NY, UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department, and the 2012 Mid-America College Art Association Conference. He currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri as the artist-in-residence at the Farm To Market Bread Company. He is a 2010 graduate of the Interdisciplinary Arts program at the Kansas City Art Institute and a 2012 Rocket Grant recipient with support from the Charlotte St. Foundation, Spencer Museum of Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation. Read his interview with feed me kc and check out his blog.


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

See you Sunday, March 23 for the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium!

Emerging Arts Leader Profile

Grad Student Shares Passion for Arts and Education

By Steven Dawson
November 22, 2011

The number one rule that all students are supposed to follow in graduate school is, “Don’t overextend yourself.” It seems that arts management grad student Jennifer Glinzak has thrown that bit of advice right out the window. On top of her full-time class load, she works 20 hours each week as a graduate fellow, is on the Graduate Student Council, volunteers on the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium leadership committee, and performs with the AU Chamber Singers.

What is your history before attending American University?

I went to Chapman University for my undergraduate work. I earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in music education with a vocal emphasis and the other in music performance with an instrumental conducting emphasis. After graduating, I worked at the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra for a year as their general manager. After my tenure expired there, I went over to the Irvine Young Concert Artists and Irvine Young Junior Artists to be their general manager. And all the while I worked at Disneyland to help pay the bills, like any good southern Californian would.

Was there a particular reason to pursue the two bachelor degrees?

I originally went to Chapman for a choral conducting degree, but one thing led to another and I ended up getting the vocal education degree. Then I was later accepted into the instrumental conducting program. Apparently, my stick hand is better than just my plain hand, so it worked out pretty well for me. I was considering a career in conducting opera and large works. But, as it turns out, I get stage fright, and I didn’t find that out until I had really gotten into conducting. That’s when I decided that it was better for me to work behind the curtain and not in front of it.

Why are you pursuing a master’s degree in arts management from AU?

I came to American University because I have an opportunity to add a policy emphasis and participate in an internship in a policy field. What I truly want to do is make a difference in arts education on the policy level and the law level. I want to change the teaching rules, as well strengthen them and enforce them. I don’t want them just to be there and teachers say, “There’s no way we can do that,” like the California standards which have no bearing on what you do in a music class.

Can you elaborate on that? What would you change?

In a choral classroom, to actually hit all of the required standard teaching points, you would only be able to do about 10 minutes of actual rehearsing. It would basically be a lecture with 10 minutes of rehearsing. That doesn’t teach music. That’s teaching history; that’s teaching theory. That’s teaching everything else. Yes, music history and theory are important things, but I think they should be separate classes. That is why they have the AP theory tests, for those kids who do actually have access to music theory.

I think that arts classrooms in general should be structured differently. There is not enough time for the arts in schools, period. And there is even less time for these standards to be implemented without actually making the art itself suffer. It takes away from getting those kids that creative expression and creative outlet.

After you graduate, what do you want to do?

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is my ultimate goal. I would love to be the Director of Education at the NEA. And if not, I would like to be the person who stands on Capitol Hill and lobbies to switch the defense spending budget with the arts and education budget. Seriously though, I do want to lobby, and I do want to see social change. And that is one of the reasons I am here, so I can get to that platform. I would like to get out there and speak about the issues, maybe even do arts advocacy with Americans for the Arts or some other advocacy group.

Some people need us to speak for them. For example, my mom is a teacher in an underprivileged school, and she teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) students. Once, some of these kids sat down and when my mom gave them crayons they didn’t know what they were for because they’ve never seen them. This is the extreme case, but I do want to give underserved and underprivileged children access to art and allow them that creative expression. A lot of these kids that my mom teaches don’t even graduate from high school. Many of them end up involved in drugs, gang-related activities, teen pregnancy, and other hard times because of their demographic, and that’s just not right or fair.

You are the graduate fellow in the music department, right? Tell me about what you do.

I am the choral manager for the AU chamber singers and AU chorus. Basically what I do is take care of everything choir related. I am in charge of managing the library, which we are re-vamping right now. I also take care of all of the dresses and the publications. I am basically the middleman between directors Daniel Abraham and Laura Petravage and everyone else. If they need something, I do it for them. And if somebody else needs something from them, I relay it back to them. It’s very rare that communication doesn’t go through me.

Jennifer Glinzak is currently nearing the end of her first semester in the two year Arts Management Master’s Program at AU and plans on graduating in May 2013.

Post-Apocalyptic Arts: Zombies vs Arts Leaders

So my roommate is way into zombies.

Not like into them has posters, dresses up as the walking dead for Halloween, plays zombie video games or has any kind of obsession with death (I don’t think), but into them as in has watched nearly every zombie film in order to stock pile information on exactly how she would survive a zombie apocalypse.

This girl is prepared. Like has zombie killing attack plan (go for the brain, don’t use a gun it attracts others), a zombie type indexing system (zombies in I Am Legend vs Walking Dead vs Dawn of the Dead… the list goes on) and pre-planned packing essentials in case she needs to get on the road, fast (it’s all about canned cheese).

However this post isn’t about her or the fact that I’m grateful I live with a competent survivalist in case a mad scientist infects us all through polluted water supplies or disease carrying rats or something

It’s about the ARTS. Granted our role as emerging arts leaders may fall to the way side in our desperate attempt to survive (or join up… this morning’s metro ride makes me wonder if a significant portion of DC’s workforce would prefer to be zombies since, essentially, they already are) but I believe us artsy types are far more likely to survive cause of two essential tools we all have (note, if you don’t have these consider another profession): creativity and resourcefulness.

Just THINK about it. As emerging arts leaders we’re facing lagging support, funding cuts, increased apathy towards artistic needs, problems with access, finances, audiences, the list goes on… yet we find a way. Our ability to make a budget balance, come up with creative solutions to impossible problems, facilitate short-term fixes while planning for long-term solutions, re-inventing the old to fit the new, finding art in the every day, turning the artistic experience into an essential vs the leisurely one and SO many other magical acts of creating something out of nothing would ensure that above everyone else, if a zombie staggered in to our office/cubical/workspace/home/whatever we would have the creativity and resourcefulness to take that goon out using only the items on our desk.

So remember that when you’re you’re handing out candy to kiddies this Halloween, if one of them is a legit zombie, you’re more prepared than you know.

History and Media and Podcasts, Oh My!

Check out this treasure trove of podcasts of past EALS speakers HERE.

Photograph by artist Tara Giannini from Maedan gallery
(Consider the hedgehog the treasure and mouse-thing the trove)

Wondering what makes a good arts leader? How to get the experience.. and the job? Listen to past panels for a taste of the amazing things to come in 2012.

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