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#womeninleadership: A Guest Blog by Jessica Ferey, EALS Committee Alumna

According to a 2014 AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors) study, women led 42.6% of museums surveyed, and those women earned 79 cents to the dollar of men’s salaries.[1] While the pay gap is alarming, the near-parity of women and men leading museums is somewhat reassuring… until we look at budgets. For museums with budgets over $15 million, the gender gap widens significantly, with only 24% of women leading museums and making 71 cents for every dollar their counterparts make.[2]

AAMD Gender Gap Report Cover

While comparable studies are rare for other arts institutions, a 1998 article entitled The Effect of Gender on the Career Advancement of Arts Managers by Herron et al. reported that only 33% of upper-level positions in medium-sized arts/cultural institutions (art museums, theatres, dance companies, operas, and symphonies) were held by women.[3] Compared to 2014, the tides are indeed changing, but a 50/50 balance has yet to be seen.

It’s not all bad news, though. There is actually quite a great phenomenon happening right here in our backyard (the DC/Maryland/Virginia area): A significant amount of arts institutions in the area are led by women, as we learned from a Washington Post article last year (The Directors) and a Georgetowner article (Women Cultural Leaders). Reading about all of these incredible women sparked my curiosity about the gender gap, so I decided to make it my capstone topic.

What can we learn from these inspiring women who have “made it” at the top? I wanted to find out…and then share with my peers and other young women who may feel there are barriers to our success in the field. Therefore, for my capstone, I have created a website that will serve as a resource for emerging women leaders in the arts: http://www.equalarty.com. The website will feature interviews with established leaders, will house articles and links about the topic, and will be a launching point for further discussion about gender [in]quality. To kick it off, I am distributing a survey to women studying/working in arts and cultural institutions to gather information about educational background, career aspirations, and perceptions of the gender gap in the field. Feel free to take the survey, here: http://www.equalarty.com/#!survey/c3qc

So, why am I writing about this here? Take a look at the EALS Committee: it’s made up of an incredible team of women leading an important event that helps emerging leaders grow and learn from each other. In 10 years, I bet they’ll be on the cover of the Georgetowner leading those cultural institutions. Therefore, I decided to kick off the interviews section of my website with insights from these leading ladies!

EALS ladies
2015 EALS Committee at Fall Silent Auction Event

Here’s what they have to say:

J: Erin, What are (if any) the challenges of leading a team of only women?

E: Leading this team of women is no different than if there were male committee members in the mix. We have a wonderful team atmosphere and work ethic, which I attribute to each member’s constant positivity and drive. Each committee member has a unique personality and perspective, making our team well-rounded and exciting to lead. I will admit that the only difference may be dancing with a hint more abandon during mid-meeting dance breaks. If there were men around, we might not show our most expressive movement.

J: Laura, to what do you attribute your current successes?

L: I attribute much of my success to my genuine nature. I am truly lucky to be pursuing a career path that I love so much. Whether raising money or planning an event, I feel that people respond positively to my innate excitement and enthusiasm. I also feel that I wouldn’t have the motivation to work as hard or feel as proud of my accomplishments if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in what I am doing.

J: Tori, how would you describe your leadership style?

T: I like to describe my leadership style as more of a facilitator and guider. I believe a key component of being an effective leader is listening and keen observation, so I try to bring those qualities into my leadership positions.

J: Colleen, who are your role models?

C: I had some pretty amazing female role models growing up. All leaders in their field, they showed me through actions that I could do whatever I wanted to do. As a child, it never even crossed my mind that women couldn’t do or be certain things. (Though I certainly recognized that there was a shocking lack of women in certain professions — as a 7 year old, I decided it was high time we had a female president, and I was going to be her.)

Another person I attribute some of my success to is my sister. I have an older sister with a developmental disability. Watching her succeed in her own way is inspiring. If she – at 4’10” and with limited vision – can sink a basketball in a 9’6″ hoop, over my outstretched hands (and I’m 5’10”), what’s stopping me from achieving success in my own way?

J: Helene, we recently heard from Monica Jeffries Hazangles (President of Strathmore and AU Arts Management alum) about fantastic failures. What are yours?

H: My first job was a fantastical failure. I was working for a new university in the Middle East in their US office. It was all a blur. After 6 weeks on campus, I was told there was a job for me if I wanted it. I came home, started to pack my life, say my goodbyes and everything. Four days before my departure and on the day I was to sign my contract with them, I get an email saying they appreciate my application and decided to hire someone in country. I was crushed, depressed for weeks. I learned that I should always have everything in writing and to never believe it until paperwork is signed. My first job would have taken me to a far away country with only a handful of people I just met. In the end, I stayed in DC for another 5 years spending 4 of those years working the hardest I ever have for the United States Institute of Peace. I grew up so much from my fantastical failure and I’m thankful that they did this to me. I would not be here if they had hired me.

J: Amy Jo, to what do you attribute your current successes?

I attribute my success to my parents, but since this is about Women in Leadership, I want to share a note for my mom:

Mom, thank you for proving that beauty is a brilliant mind and the ability to laugh at yourself. Thank you for never letting me skip a synchronized swimming practice because I learned the true meaning of teamwork. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and letting me choose my own path. Alongside Dad, you’ve proven that, with determination, the stars are at our fingertips. 

J: Jenni, as you prepare to move beyond a graduate career, what are your aspirations? What are your fears? Do you think being a woman will impede your ability to climb the ladder?

I aspire to become a dynamic leader. I want to inspire people. I dream of owning my own theatre venue with strong aims at enriching the community of which it is a part. It is important to me to see art, in all its forms, taken seriously as a cultural necessity. I do often worry that I won’t find a position I love and that I won’t be paid what I deserve, but I won’t let that stop me from trying to achieve my dreams and if I can’t climb the ladder, maybe I can find a trestle or a tree to climb instead.

I want to thank the EALS ladies for taking the time to speak with me. The Symposium is in great hands and I hope you will all join me in attending what is sure to be a most excellent day of learning and inspiration (March 22nd, 2015). Bonus: Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts – and an incredible #womaninleadership – will be a keynote speaker!

Ferey Headshot

Jessica Ferey is a second year graduate student in the Arts Management program at AU. She is currently Project Manager for the Global Cultural Districts Network, an initiative established to foster collaborations among those planning and leading cultural districts around the world. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys pursuing her hobby as a culture vulture, discovering all of the great art and cultural offerings here in D.C.

[1] Association of Art Museum Directors. 2014. The Gender Gap In Art Museum Directorships. https://aamd.org/our-members/from-the-field/gender-gap-report.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Herron, Donna G., et al. “The Effect of Gender on the Career Advancement of Arts Managers.” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 28 (1998): 27-40.

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!

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.

Alternative Arts Expression

Imagine drawing a Shakespearean sonnet. Or hearing a Matisse painting. Playing a book as a video game.

Well for anyone who was rocking the internet back in February of this year, The Great Gatsby Game gave you the ability to do exactly that.

I got a great chance to interview the brilliant minds behind this amazing little experience. Taste some tidbits below or read it HERE.

NEA: The Big Read is about inspiring people across the country to pick up a book. Do you think those who play The Great Gatsby Game need to have read the book in order to enjoy it? Or do you think people could be inspired by the game to pick up the book?

PETER SMITH: When we were making the game, we really thought no one would like it if they didn’t really love both the book and the games we were referencing—we thought it was going to be a pretty small audience. But it turned out that a lot of people on either side liked it anyway. My parents always wanted me to read books instead of playing games. But then my dad got hooked on the game and played it every night for a month. I was really touched when he finally beat it. And on the flip side, you have people…who never read the book but got a kick out of the game. The game really comes from a place of love for both of its sources, so there are a lot of little jokes for fans of either to enjoy. And if people pick up the book, I’m thrilled.

CHARLIE HOEY: The game definitely is funniest if Gatsby’s pretty fresh in your mind; there are a lot of jokes that are only relevant to the reader. Our process for vetting jokes was to never sacrifice gameplay for a literary reference, to never make a joke too much at the expense of either The Great Gatsby or old video games. It was important above all else for it to really feel like something from this era, with all the technical limitations and gameplay conventions and terrible translations. At the same time, we love the book and wanted to carry some of our favorite passages and scenes across the vast divide between these mediums more or less intact.

More than a few people have told me they’re going back to read the book after playing the game, which is really a great compliment. I’ve also gotten emails from a few English teachers that used it in class or in homework assignments, making kids compare and contrast references to the novel. Always makes my day.

Is this the future of the arts? Specifically of literature? While I know Charlie and Peter would agree: there’s no substitute to reading the real thing… sometimes I wonder if perhaps we can increase ACCESS through other alternative artistic forms.

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