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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.”

 

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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!

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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

Marketing…Not All About the Ticket

It use to be that the success of arts marketers was dependent on how well they could predict the future and then pray for success. But those days are over. Today, arts marketers can rely on data analysis and market research to make well thought outfortune-teller strategic decisions.

I, for one, am glad that marketers no longer have to rely future telling because marketing is an essential part of the arts experience. As a jazz trombonist, I had to learn how to market myself to land gigs and then market my gigs so that people would come to them. Arts organizations have to do the same. But they must market their organization as well as individual performances.

Several years ago Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) ran an institutional marketing campaign with the theme “BAM and then it hits you”. The message they conveyed was that the experience at BAM lingered long after you left. This campaign excited people about BAM as an entire organization, as opposed to a singular performance.

There are countless other examples of successful marketing campaigns in the arts. As emerging arts leaders I think it is essential we pay attention to trends in marketing. What are the latest trends in arts marketing? How do arts marketers use data analysis and market research to make strategic decisions? What type of programming is becoming most difficult to market? There are an endless amount of questions we can ask.

This Sunday April 7th, the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University will feature a panel discussion to answer these marketing questions and more. What questions do you have about arts marketing today?

The panelists for the Marketing Trends panel include:

Jennifer Buzzell – Strathmore: Jennifer Buzzell is the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Strathmore, a multi-disciplinary arts center in North Bethesda, Jennifer Buzell picMD.  Accomplishments at Strathmore include leading the efforts to be the first arts organization in the D.C. area to allow patrons to select their exact seats online; starting an innovative grass-roots and guerilla marketing program that reaches out to sell tickets and raise awareness through non-traditional means; spearheading the efforts with the Strathmore staff to have Strathmore branded as a leader in customer service for the arts in the D.C. area by not charging customers separately for parking and ticketing fees and allowing all patrons to exchange concert tickets; and moving from a subscription-based sales model to a single ticket/membership based sales model (Strathmore Stars).  Jen has a Masters in Arts Management from American University, and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Boston University.  She was named the Montgomery County 2012 Emerging Arts Leader by County Executive Ike Leggett and Catherine Leggett, accompanied by proclamations from Senator Barbara Mikulski, the State of Maryland and Montgomery County. Jen is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery (2009), and serves on the Board of Directors of The Bach Sinfonia, and committees for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and Wheaton Urban District. She lives in Wheaton, MD with her husband Jeremy and children Zoe and Myles.

JoAnn LaBrecque-French – The Washington Ballet: JoAnn LaBrecque-French is currently Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for The Washington Ballet.  LaBrecque picHer extensive background in performing arts includes working as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Washington National Opera; Director of Marketing and Communications for Houston Grand Opera; Public Relations Manager of Los Angeles Opera; and as an Account Executive with Davidson & Choy Publicity, one of Los Angeles’ premier arts and entertainment firms. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Ms. LaBrecque-French was the Director of Program Resources at Neuhaus Education Center, a professional teacher development organization where she developed and implemented marketing, website, communications and on-line teacher-training initiatives. Her expertise encompasses traditional and nontraditional marketing, communications,   and advertising with an emphasis in branding, positioning, media and community partnerships, website development, and incorporating electronic and social media and community outreach into comprehensive and multidimensional external institutional campaigns.   Ms. LaBrecque-French’s consulting client list includes Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, CalArts, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. 

Khady Kamara – Arena Stage: Khady Kamara joined the Arena Stage in 2001 as a Subscriptions Manager and has been an integral member of the Communications team Kamarathrough her work in Audience Services eventually being promoted to Director of Audience Services before taking over as the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.  Under her leadership, Arena’s sales team repeatedly broke box office sales records for a number of shows, including South PacificSophisticated LadiesOklahoma!, and Red.  Ms. Kamara successfully administered the recent upgrade and transition of Arena’s ticketing software to meet the ever changing needs of its growing patron base.  Her work was integral in the success of Arena’s temporary residency in Crystal City and the opening of the Mead Center for American Theater the fall of 2010.  During Ms. Kamara’s tenure, group sales revenue has more than doubled in scope and range of audiences reached.  She also pioneered unprecedented efforts to maximize donations with single ticket purchases. Khady  is the recipient of national and local awards acknowledging her service and professionalism, including the 2009 Outstanding Box Office Award on behalf of Arena Stage from the International Ticketing Association (INTIX) and as a 2009 Offstage Award Honoree from the League of Washington Theatres (LWOT).

Moderator:

Jack Rasmussen – American University: Jack Rasmussen is the Director and Curator Rasmussenof the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. He previously held Executive Director positions at di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature, Maryland Art Place, and Rockville Arts Place. He was the owner and director of Jack Rasmussen Gallery in Washington, DC. More information can be found on his blog.

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!

Experiencing APAP NYC, what I am taking from the 2012 conference. – Day 3

Day 3:

Bolz Center students share their work

I started this morning with a session with our fellow arts management students at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin.  The students involved, Joanna Simpson, Brian Hinrichs, Marcella Dover, Laura Blegen, Andrew Maxfield, and Danielle Boyke, presented this year’s edition of the Dawson Research Internship: Power Influence, and Performing Arts.  Bolz Center director Andrew Taylor moderated.  The research and presentation was designed to connect the dots between power and influence in policy-making and the arts.  Here is a brief summary of the two hour session:

  • Social Network Analysis – there are 4 steps to analyzing your network:
    1) Define the group
    2) Know your position in relation to the group
    3) Identify the connectors and bridges between you and a desired network connection
    4) Create a plan for how to change your position
    – Analyze your network to see the actual connections.  It is a great way to visualize what you need to do to further your connections and position (i.e. – get someone on the Rotary club so you can connect with a certain local businessperson).
  • Social Movement Theory –
    – How do they function?  The root idea is the base, then comes the mobilization of resources, then comes a cycle of cognition (recognizing smaller goals), coordination, and cooperation.
    – Arts fit in with social movements by providing communication, mobilization, solidarity, long-term impact, and emotional power.
  • Power in Politics – Economic power is the main source of power in the US (the 1% idea that has been brought forward from the “occupy” movements).  The “power elite” have a mix of social upper class, policy forming organizations, and corporate community.
    – How to make a change:  identify your “power elite” and find a way into the network.
  • Organizational behavior – the 6 source model from Influencer by Patterson, Grenny, et al.: shows different ways to affect change (this is a great companion book to Switch by the Heath brothers).

Ideas picked up from session participants and personal thoughts:

  •  Ticket buyers are an outcome, not a network.
  • An army of people camping on the steps of the capital is not as powerful as one person having a conversation with the chair of a congressional committee.
  • As far as advocacy, we arts people have such a large network, that the potential for huge clout is there; we just have to mobilize the network.
More info on the research can be found at bolzcenter.org/dawson

At 11:00, I attended the next plenary session, The Village Beat – Taking Action.  It was hosted by John Hearn, principal at SYPartners.

John Hearn

The towering consultant led the group in a discussion on connecting the organization to the community and its needs.  This doesn’t mean simply residing in a community and trying to lure its members in.  It means having a direct connection.  His four pillars of what constitutes a community’s situation are the individual, the community (group), change that is happening, and money.  The major questions to ask yourselves as an organization are:

  • How is the world changing for the community you serve?
  • What is the ideal that would answer your community’s most pressing needs?
  • How will you or your organization rise to this occasion?
  • What is the evidence that you can exercise this leadership?
  • How must you stretch in order to fully occupy your new role in the community?

Thoughts taken from this session:

  • Don’t think about your community in terms of art, because chances are it is not what they wake up thinking about.
  • Define your success as an organization based on the success of the community around you, not by looking at yourself in the mirror.

There was a lot of grand, eloquent thoughts and statements during this Village Beat session.  I can only hope that the arts leaders who made these statements will actually put these thoughts into action and not keep them on the shelf.

After a dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli, I headed over to the Broadway Comedy Club on 8th avenue to check out what Chicago City Limits had to offer.  It is a 6 member

Chicago City Limits

improvisation group that has 5 actors and 1 amazing improvisational accompanist.  I was not disappointed.  I know I said yesterday that 7 Fingers was my favorite….well, Chicago City Limits has now taken that position with a coup de force.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.  You know when you get to laughing so hard that they get high pitched and you start snorting……yep, that was me.  The troupe started with a song about a phrase that the audience came up with, which happened to be “Anything Goes.”  The lyrics were masterfully composed, and the actors really played off each other rhymes well. Then they performed a sketch about another crowd creation in multiple styles, which were also drawn from the crowd.  Another highlight was the “story time” sketch based off of a title that an audience member gave.  The actors passed the baton, so to speak, picking up the story and continuing to create it as the “director” pointed to each actor.  They also performed a long-form improv musical, and ended with a hilarious game in which one actor had to guess a regionalism phrase based on extremely vague clues given by the other actors.  I cannot even begin to do justice to the comical genius of the group in this blog.  I can only recommend that you look them up and plan to attend one of their shows.

Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

After that, I meandered down to 44th and 8th to the famous Birdland jazz club to listen to a set from the world renown and Grammy winning Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Each musician on the stage was a true master of his craft.  It was a delight to listen to such wonderful Latin jazz.  Once again, I recommend hunting them down and listening when you get the chance.

– Steven Dawson
“The world needs art, not so they can escape, but so they can embrace.”

Coo coo ca choo, Thank You

thank you letter non profitThank you. Ta. Merci. Danke. Grazie. No matter what language, we can all agree, thank yous are important.  Thank you for your donation, thank you for your attendance, thank you for your recommendation, thank you, thank you, thank you.

But HOW do we say thank you? Best practices tell us to be sure to send donors a Thank You letter within two weeks of receiving their donation. Some organizations are better at this than other. That logistic nightmare is another whole post. What I’m curious about is: what do your Thank You letters look like? How do they sound? How are they structured? (Read Kivi Leroux Miller’s Nonprofit Thank You Letters – 3 I Love)

Recently the organization I work for decided it was time to overhaul our Thank You letters and start from scratch. Personally, I was excited. I hated exporting, organizing and mail merging data into 18 different letter templates depending on the donation type, amount, and other minute restrictions. Plus I hated the letters themselves. Entirely left justified, “thanks for your recent contribution” snore, snore, boring. It was essentially a business like receipt, a Kivino-no“. So when 5 minutes of dead air indicated that no one else was willing to step up and write some new letters (oh the charm of conference calls), I took it as a sign from above I should step up to the plate. (Read About.com’s Thank You Letter Guide HERE – not half bad)

Armed with Mal Warwick’s How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters I prepared to blow my co-workers out of the water. Four hours, a pack of Twizzlers and 3 cans of mountain dew later I had my masterpieces: aesthetic interest, personalized voice, an invite to visit us online or via other social media resources, and essential IRS information, it was all there. I would’ve been happy to receive such a letter as thanks for my donation.

I happily saved my collection of templates in Dropbox and sent off the link. I waited, excited and nervous, to receive what I expected to be responses of joy and praise. I envisioned something along the lines of “WHY DIDN’T WE THINK OF THIS. You’ve changed our lives. We want to give you a raise.”

As I’m sure my story has lead you to expect, no such praise came. The long and short of it is that after quite a few “I don’t like…” “Why does it do this…” back and forth our new thank you templates look almost EXACTLY the same as our old ones. Yetch. However despite my disappointment I’m willing to admit that the letter I wrote may not have been appropriate at this time for the organization at which I work. One day, perhaps, our letters will reflect the warmth of our staff and excitement of our mission. But for now, they letters we have get it done.

What kind of thank yous does your organization send? Who signs them? How do you structure them? Leave links to your favorite thank yous as well as any feed back or suggestions on best way you’ve been thanked for your charitable donations in the comments!

And because it’s a great song and the title is Thank You enjoy some Led Zep below:

Rose Parade 2012 – Art Promoting Art

After waking up at 3:15AM this morning, driving 2 hours to Pasadena, and waiting in a 57 minute line for a cup of Starbucks coffee; I enjoyed two hours of full sunshine in the Grandstands on Colorado Blvd.  That’s right, basking in the 80 degree weather at the 123rd Annual Rose Parade.

First let me say that the Parade was wonderful, and as a California native, it was on my bucket list.  The bands were awesome, the spirits were high, and the floats were far enough away as to not set off my allergies.  There were a total of 44 floats this year and 23 trophies (it is a competition after all).  While there were floats that were obviously marketing their sponsor’s product (ahem – Paramount and XBox), others went more toward the theme of imagining – one included a wave pool for doggie surfers (that won the Extraordinaire Trophy).

LA Concept Drawing

The cities in the upper LA basin usually enter a float each year in support of the parade and to encourage tourism.  With the budget cuts in the SoCal area, I sadly report that there were fewer cities represented this year than in all previous years.  To give you an idea of the floats, La Canada had three pigs in a wooden rocket ship which won the Bob Hope Humor Award and the City of Glendale had a pretty elephant harnessed to a carriage, but both had nothing to do with the events of either city.

LA Parade Float

The City of Los Angeles, in stark contrast, chose to promote the new (and amazing) dinosaur exhibit at the LA Natural History Museum.  The float prominently featured the LANHM building, the logo, and three fantastical dinosaurs (also the only of the parade).  The float went on to win the Crown City Innovation Trophy for best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design.  Not only advancing the art of float design, but advancing art itself – even if it is prehistoric.

My question is:  How many of you saw the dino’s this morning?

That’s effective marketing.

My Experience Interning at the NEA

National Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th – October 15th here in the United States. This year the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a Hispanic heritage month film screening for the staff. The film was Latin Music USA and it discussed the impact Latin music has had in America from jazz to rock; influencing many artist from Dizzy Gillespie to the artists listening to Santana at Woodstock. It was a remarkable film and I remember thinking how great it was that the NEA was showing this film for staff during work hours.

Since mid September of this year I have been interning at the National Endowment for the Arts in the performing arts division. My internship thus far has been very rewarding. In the past month I’ve been working with staff to help prepare for the NEA Opera Honors, the arts council meeting, and upcoming panels. With that being said my post today is not about my internship experience. Instead it is about the internal marketing at the NEA.

During class this semester we talked about the importance of internal marketing for an organization. All staff on all levels should understand the mission of the organization and have a clear sense of what they are doing for the community and why. So far in my experience at the NEA, they have a successful internal marketing strategy.

The showing of the film Latin Music USA for staff during work is an example of good internal marketing. By encouraging staff to take time off work and view a film it shows that the emphasis should be on the art. The NEA funds arts related projects and by taking time to appreciate art, in this case music it helps reinforce why the staff works so hard. They work so that great art is available to the community. By keeping the art at the forefront the NEA is showing staff where their priorities should be. Also, by showing the film during work they encourage the staff to take a break and enjoy the art they work so hard to fund.

As an arts management student and emerging arts leader I have found my time at the NEA to be a great learning experience. I hope in the future wherever I work that emphasis is always on the mission of the organization and that steps are taken for every staff member to understand that mission. When all staff and volunteers understand the mission they have a purpose and can relate better to their audience. What do you as emerging arts leaders hope your future job environment will be like? What is your experience now?

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