We on the EALS committee want to wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day! We feel incredibly honored by the love and support the symposium continually receives from friends, families, and the greater arts community. We are so excited to very soon be sharing with you the most amazing news about our panelists and the professional development and networking feature we’ll be incorporating this year. But for now, at the risk of leaving you too much in suspense, we want to share with you what we love most about the arts and the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium.
Things we love about the arts:
I love the quiet moments I have with myself when I dodge into a museum in the middle of the day, or catch a show last minute just because. Art has this beautiful way of revealing ourselves to ourselves and giving us a window into the soul of the creators and the thoughts, philosophies, or societal questions it attempts to answer or shed light upon. Art helps to center me and give voice to the thoughts and feelings I haven’t found a way to express in words. — Zenia, Marketing Coordinator
I love that the arts are a reflection of who we are as individuals and as a society. It’s an expression of passion that goes far beyond words. I believe that when words fail, art steps in. Art can unite us, inspire us, and force us to face larger issues. And I think it’s vital to sustaining our sense of culture and identity, as well as propelling us onward. — Jenni, Program Coordinator
I love how people’s primary motivation for entering this field, in any capacity, is driven by passion. Being in the arts is not just “work” or “just another job”. We are part of the arts because we love it, want to share that passion with others, and can’t imagine a life without it. — Tori, Marketing Coordinator
The arts are incredibly diverse and embracing of that diversity. If you can paint, paint. If you can dance, dance. If you can sing, sing. If you want to sit there and appreciate it from the audience because doing something creative is hazardous to those around you, appreciate. No one will judge you less for the skills you demonstrate or do not demonstrate. Plus, the people you meet within the arts come from a variety of backgrounds, styles and outlooks. It makes being a member of this community so much more inspiring when compared to my previous fields because everyone is so accepting and open. — Helene, Finance Coordinator
Things we love about EALS:
I love EALS because it is one of the most intimate, personalized conferences for arts managers I’ve ever seen. It is an action-packed day where a relatively small group meets to really dive into their passion. It is dynamic, engaging, and important because there are so many valuable insights and networks to be gained within just one short day! — Erin, Executive Chair
Working with such an amazing, talented group of women! And engaging such a depth of experience and talent for our panels. — Sarah, Production Manager
I love EALS because it is the opportunity to be surrounded and inspired by the brilliant minds of our industry. — AmyJo, Program Coordinator
Besides the wonderful women I’m serving with, I love the panels: creating them, picking out the best panelists to give attendees a great experience, and then simply seeing them in action. — Colleen, Finance Chair
I love the excitement that is beginning to surround us as we get closer to the big day. We are all working so hard to put together the best possible symposium with some of the most influential leaders in the arts. I love the feeling of accomplishment it has brought me so far and look forward to the coming month and a half of final planning. I also adore working with such a wonderful team. It is such a treat to working with such motivating and intelligent individuals. — Laura, Vice Chair
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. 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.
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. 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!
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!
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.
As you may or may not know, EALS lives at American University in its Arts Management program. We are fortunate enough to be students during a very special time of celebration. This year, Arts Management at AU celebrates its 40th Anniversary and cheers on its future to 40+ more years of fun and learning. Here at EALS we are truly proud of our program’s history and prestige as one of the greatest programs in the nation.
Also, the 40th Anniversary couldn’t help but want in on our #TBT action from last week so we’ve included some wonderful photos of students like us from the past. You can find out more about the anniversary celebration happening next weekend and register for the event here. Events of the weekend are listed below.
Join former classmates, professors, and fellow alumni to commemorate 40 years of extraordinary arts and cultural managers.
See old friends and relive memories while making new connections, sharing innovations and accomplishments, and touching base with your artistic roots. We will laugh, learn, and live it up as only arts management professionals can – a toast to another 40 years of excellence!
Friday, October 24
Fall 2014 is a hot time for the DC arts scene. Through the generosity of our local alumni and colleagues, the following events are available a discounted rate for am@au affiliates (or they were already free!). Connect with your former classmates through the Facebook event page and get a group together to see some art!
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!
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 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 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 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 (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 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 is from upstate New York and comes from a long history in folk music (she started working on the junior crew at a festival at age 6!). If she could throw a parade she’d politely decline, but her special talent is having a song for everything. I think I see parade potential there. She’d wash the windows of the Washington monument for the remaining balance of her school debt… any takers?! Her ideal epic rap battle would be “Julie Andrews vs. _________ …oh let’s face it. Julie Andrews would win.”
Laura 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.”
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!
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 the 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 Humphries 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 younger 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.
After 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 and 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.
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 out 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.
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, MD. 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. Her 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 through 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 Pacific, Sophisticated Ladies, Oklahoma!, 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).
Jack Rasmussen – American University: Jack Rasmussen is the Director and Curator of 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.
We all love to go to our favorite theatre and watch a production, sit and listen to our favorite orchestra, or visit our favorite museum. Traditionally, a person interacted with arts organizations by sitting in the audience of a theater and viewing a performance; but is that enough? I say no way! Like me, many audience members want to get involved and interact with arts organizations in a new way.
Today we live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. These platforms give us a space to share our views and interact with people from around the world. As a young person in my early twenties, interaction and participation is crucial. Arts organizations are beginning to realize the importance of audience engagement and are finding new and innovative ways to engage their audiences.
Audience engagement includes a range of activities from open rehearsals, online forums, to interactive shows. Here in Washington, DC, Dog & Pony DCproduced a production of The Killing Game that whole-heartedly embraced the idea of audience engagement. Audience members were able to decide important events of the play such as who survives the plague and who dies. When asked about their experience at The Killing Game,one audience member stated “We begin like stone-faced spectators; we end like the world’s most talkative flash mob”
Although the traditional way an audience views a performance is still very important, I think arts organizations should try to find new ways to engage their audience. As someone who enjoys participation, audience engagement is very important.
With audience engagement becoming more of a necessity, what are some cost effective methods of audience engagement? How are we using technology/social media to effectively engage audiences without losing the true value of the arts experience? And who do you think are some of the most successful arts organizations in terms of audience engagement right now?
JR Russ – Class Acts Arts, #thearts, Dance Place: JR Russ is a Washington, DC native who received his B.A. in Dance from UMD, and an M.A. in Arts Management from American University. Since then he’s gone on to teach and choreograph in the area, as well as continue to perform, and even work on the administrative & production side of things. This has led to him managing digital and social media for Class Acts Arts & Dance Place, as well as joining the communications and marketing committees for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington & SpeakeasyDC. He also assist Duke Ellington School for the Arts with their social media efforts, in policy and implementation organizationally and through workshops to students on using new media professionally.
Alli Houseworth – Method 121: Alli Houseworth is the founder and chief consultant and strategist at Method 121. Throughout her entire career, she has brought an innovative way of thinking to her work. Often hired to manage projects and implement changes that require deep analytical and strategic thinking, coupled with highly creative ideas, Alli has drawn on her ten years of experience in the communications field to bring an extraordinarily high level of innovation to her work in both the nonprofit and commercial arts sectors. The core of the work always focuses on branding, new media, service-centric audience experiences, and leveraging the power of community. Constantly passionate about developing audiences for the theatre, Alli has established herself as an industry expert in audience engagement and social media.
Margy Waller – Topos Partnership: Margy Waller is a Senior Fellow at Topos Partnership and former Vice-President of Research and Strategic Communications at ArtsWave. Previously she was Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, with a joint appointment in the Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy programs. Prior to Brookings, she was Senior Advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton-Gore White House. Before joining the Administration, Margy was Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. She also served as Director of Public Policy at United Way of America, and Director of Policy Development at Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, and a congressional fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Eric Fingerhut (D-OH).
Doug Borwick – ArtsEngaged: Doug Borwick holds the Ph.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP. He gained experience as an arts administrator and producer working with the Arts Council of Rochester (NY) and through founding and leading the NC Composers Alliance in the mid-1980’s. Dr. Borwick also served for nearly thirty years as Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Borwick is also a leading advocate for community engagement in the arts. He is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal and author/editor of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S.
Ximena Varela – American University: 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.
Washington is full of young, ambitious, up and coming leaders – politicos, entrepreneurs, engineers, and of course, those of us in the arts. We live in an exciting time and as we prepare to dive into the working world, we are faced with some unique challenges. But we are young and energetic and up to the task.
One universal challenge emerging leaders face in every field is the evolution of the ever expanding “work day.” Gone are the days of a typical 9 to 5. (Though, did they ever really exist in the arts?) In this iPhone, iPad, Blackberry world, we are continually and constantly connected. Emails are sent and expected to be read at any and all hours. Tweets and Facebook comments don’t take the night off. We are embarking on a career world that never stops and rarely sleeps.
And how does one break into this world? Ah yes. The internship. Internships have the potential to be great career launchers. They also have the potential to become traps. All work and no pay makes Jane a tired intern. The New York Times recently published an article detailing the struggles of many 20-somethings – “a population historically exploitable as cheap labor” – as they learn that “long hours and low pay go hand in hand with the creative class.”
But the good news is, it feeds us (maybe just ramen noodles at first.) We in the arts get the extra perk of our work feeding our souls. It’s why we do it. And it’s an exciting time to dive in.
The Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at American University on April 7 will feature a panel discussion on career beginnings and advancement. Come get in on the discussion!
Jojo Ruf – National New Play Network: Jojo Ruf is the General Manager of the National New Play Network, an alliance of 47 nonprofit theaters across the US that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays. Jojo is also the Coordinating Producer for the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, an Associate Producer for the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, a freelance writer for theatreWashington, and works as a Teaching Artist for Ford’s Theatre. She has worked with Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, Theater J, Welders Theatre, and Georgetown University as a freelance producer and director.
Most recently, Jojo served as the Coordinating Producer for Georgetown University’s Convening on Global Performance, Civic Imagination, and Cultural Diplomacy and as the Coordinator for Theater J’s Spinozium and other Beyond the Stage events for New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza.
Christopher K. Morgan – Christopher K. Morgan & Artists: Christopher K. Morgan is Artistic Director of Washington DC area contemporary dance company Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, the Artist in Residence in the Dance Program at American University and the Director of the Dance Omi International Dance Collective, an annual residency for choreographers in New York. All of his work stems from a belief in the urgency of live performance in an increasingly isolating, commercial, and digital world. His choreography has been presented in 18 countries on 5 continents. In April 2011 Dance Magazine profiled him as one of six breakout choreographers in the United States. Christopher is the recipient of a 2011 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Choreography, a 2012 and 2013 Individual Artist Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and a 2013 Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Fellowship.
Allison Peck – Freer-Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution: Allison Peck is the Head of Public Affairs and Marketing for the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art in Washington, D.C., where she oversees all strategic marketing, public communications, media relations and advertising for the museums’ exhibitions and programs. She has a professional background in project management, and has worked in communications for a variety of non-profits, including museums, art dealers, and social service providers. Allison has a graduate degree in Arts Administration from American University in Washington, D.C., and an undergraduate degree in Art History and Strategic Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Anne L’Ecuyer – American University: Anne L’Ecuyer is a writer and a consultant who stays closely connected to an international network of city leaders, cultural professionals, and individual artists. She is an expert in creative industries and cultural tourism, as well as the contributions of the arts toward educational, social, and environmental goals in communities throughout the United States. Anne previously served as Associate Vice President for Field Services at Americans for the Arts and is the author of Public Funding for the Arts at the Local Level. She owns and operates the Washington Writer’s Retreat, a private writing and research residency in the nation’s capital.