We recently launched a new series on ARTSblog that spotlights the staff at Americans for the Arts that I call “Ten Questions with…”, in which I will ask everyone the same questions and see where it takes us.
This time I have turned to Valerie Beaman who currently serves as Private Sector Initiatives Coordinator.
1. Describe your role at Americans for the Arts in 10 words or less:
Program planner, council wrangler, seeker of speakers and bloggers, herder
2. What do the arts mean to you?
In my family it was an anomaly if you weren’t involved in the arts in some way. We are all a bunch of introverts and eccentrics who’ve managed to stay sane by participating in the arts. My first stage experience was as a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Redlands Bowl at age 3 ½. I still get goose bumps when I hear Mendelssohn’s music for the entrance of the fairies! Experiences like that never leave you. It’s very important to me to that children everywhere have an opportunity to connect with the arts. They’re a lifesaver.
3. If you could have any career you wanted (talent, education not required), what would it be and why?
A test pilot because I love everything to do with the experience of flight. I took up skydiving because I wanted to know how it felt to step out into nothingness.
4. How many places have you lived? Where?
Five: I was born in Southern California; spent my school years in Pittsburgh, PA; I’ve lived most of my life in New York, NY, taking five years off in Bernalillo, NM to recharge, and Paris, where I always feel instantly at home.
5. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Someone once said about me, “Look, she even ties her shoes gracefully.” At the time I laughed, but I still think of it every time I tie my shoes.
6. Name three people in history (dead or alive) with whom you would want to sit down to dinner.
Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg. I was a huge fan of the Cunningham Company and would love to hear about their collaborations and their crazy road trips. I’d ask John Cage to provide some delicious mushroom dishes and maybe read from Finnegan’s Wake in the wee hours. I’m sure the I Ching would come into play at some point in the evening.
7. Would others say that you can dance? Explain.
Well you’d think I could dance, having been in an opera ballet company and all the rest of my performing career, but somehow none of that training translates onto the regular dance floor. I couldn’t do the popular dances very well, so I created the Pussy-foot Stomp—not exactly the Harlem Shake—more like a demented Irish step-dancer.
8. What is the earliest memory you have of being an audience member for a live arts event?
Does the circus count? I was maybe five or six and I loved the man being shot out of the cannon, of course. I wanted to be shot out of the cannon too and cried when no one took me seriously. An early indication of my pursuit of flight!
9. What would the title of your autobiography be?
No One Here Thinks I’m Funny! I have a picture for the cover:
10. Finally, if you could paint a picture or take more photos of a place you have been in your life what would you paint or photograph?
I’m a novice with water colors and have been trying to capture the “walking rain” of New Mexico when the rain falls only halfway down from the sky. It’s magical at sunset. I suspect that magic only exists in the moment and can’t or shouldn’t be captured.
That’s it for Valerie. Stay tuned for more “Ten Questions with…” soon!