Many Hats, Giving Back

Posted by Julia Harman Cain On October - 23 - 2014
Julia Harman Cain headshot

Julia Harman Cain

I remember little about my first time on stage: a ballet recital at age three. We danced to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and I had no idea what I was doing. Happily, the VHS evidence shows that I did not fall down.

In first grade, I made my theatrical debut. My class produced a short skit about caring for the environment, and I played the crucial role of Super Recycling Kid (who recycled to save the planet). My favorite part was wearing my superhero cape for the rest of the school day.

Ever since, the arts have been a constant in my life. As a kid, I loved the transformation inherent in theater: we created a world together onstage and, for a few hours at a time, it was just as a real as anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

LAAs, FAQs, and Other Acronyms: Reflections from a Summer Intern

Posted by Kelly Olshan On August - 15 - 2014
Kelly Olshan

Kelly Olshan

Ask a fine arts professional about arts management and most will respond with something along the lines of, “What is that?” At least that was my experience when I inquired about the field at my small liberal arts school in Asheville, North Carolina. Such reactions lead me to believe I was entering the uncharted territory of a highly specialized, obscure field. This is not the case. Read the rest of this entry »

Degree of Entry?

Posted by Todd Eric Hawkins On March - 20 - 2013
Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

During the last Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio, I had the privilege of facilitating a roundtable on how to navigate a mid-career shift to the arts. The remarkable individuals I met during that discussion reinforced one of the things I love about arts administration and the arts in general, their entry points were varied and all are vital to the field.

Since entering arts administration a few years ago, I have had numerous conversations with arts leaders of all ages regarding the question of getting a Masters Degree. Part of the reason for this is that I did get a Masters Degree in Arts Administration in 2010 and I am often called on to tout the benefits of my alma mater to prospective students, which I do enthusiastically.

When I graduated three years ago, I would have told you that a Masters Degree is absolutely necessary, which was completely true in my case. I would never have the opportunities I now have without my graduate program. In the past three years, however, I have discovered an additional inescapable path to leadership, the road.

The road is paved with obstacles and pitfalls that every leader must face and that no Masters Degree program could possibly teach. They only thing the very best ones can do, is prepare you for the journey.  Read the rest of this entry »

What Do We Really Know About People Who Get Arts Degrees?

Posted by Sally Gaskill On July - 2 - 2012

Sally Gaskill

As it turns out, quite a bit.

Since 2008, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) has surveyed graduates of arts training programs—people who received undergraduate and/or graduate arts degrees from colleges and universities as well as diplomas from arts high schools…people who majored in architecture, arts education, creative writing, dance, design, film, fine arts, media arts, music, theater, and more.

To date, SNAAP has collected data from over 50,000 arts graduates of all ages and nationalities. These respondents, as we call them in the survey world, graduated from nearly 250 different educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

In a few short years, SNAAP has become what is believed to be the largest database ever assembled about the arts and arts education, as well as the most comprehensive alumni survey conducted in any field.

Recently, we published our latest findings: A Diverse Palette: What Arts Graduates Say About Their Education and Careers. The report provides findings from over 33,000 arts graduates who responded to the online survey last fall.

Our report has attracted media coverage from the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Inside Higher Ed and—we were gawked on! My favorite may be Forbes, which compares getting an arts degree with getting a law degree—and recommends that prospective law students consider an arts career instead.

Here are some of the big questions that SNAAP data begin to answer.

1.      Where do arts graduates go?

  • First, they are largely employed. Only 4% of SNAAP respondents are unemployed and looking for work, as opposed to the national average of 8.9%.

Educating for Entrepreneurial Arts Education Leadership

Posted by Stephanie Riven On May - 2 - 2012

Stephanie Riven

I recently spent a semester at Harvard as a visiting practitioner in the Arts in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

While working directly with the Arts in Education Program, I was also able to audit classes at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and attend special lectures and programs sponsored by the Harvard Business School. Needless to say, the entire experience was fascinating on many levels.

As one might expect, the differences between the course offerings and student culture in the above mentioned schools were striking—yet many of the future challenges students in these different institutions will face are the same.

Based on my experience, the talented students in the Arts in Education Program tended to orient themselves towards issues related to process—the process of learning and the integration of concepts in advocacy, education, research, and policy. Though each of these students expressed a deep commitment to their work, many also expressed trepidation about entering an uncertain job market that is famously under-resourced and socially marginalized.

By comparison, the students I encountered at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School were excited about their potential to begin something new. They were learning how to become entrepreneurs by developing skills related to organizing, team-building, and risk-taking while they were also growing in their understanding of how to garner financial, cultural, and social capital for their future ventures. Read the rest of this entry »

Capturing the World of an Emerging Arts Leader

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On April - 6 - 2012
Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

I am consistently inspired by the innovation that comes out of the Emerging Leaders Network, and this week’s blog salon was no exception.

We heard from representatives of 11 Emerging Leaders Networks, and gained some insight into what was happening in their communities. This week, bloggers have questioned and affirmed why they continue to dedicate their careers to the arts; wrote about examples of artists and arts organizations leading authentic community engagement; questioned the social inequity of unpaid interns; and shared a list of Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25.

We gave ourselves permission to fail, permission to have multiple interests outside of the arts that may or may not intersect with the field, and reminded ourselves not to get stuck in a structure that no longer works for us as individuals or organizations.

It’s clear that emerging arts leaders are looking at their careers, organizations, and neighborhoods in a different way than arts administrators who have come before them. I believe it’s important that we honor the hard work of those who started in the field before us. Without them, we wouldn’t have the National Endowment for the Arts, the structure of public funding support, or the diversity of arts, cultural, and community engagement organizations that exist today.

There are four generations currently working and leading in the workforce, and we must find ways to work with one another, share our strengths, and support each other’s weaknesses at all levels of the generation spectrum.

To me, this blog salon demonstrated how many mini ripple effects of change are taking place in communities across the country at the same time. This is change at a very fundamental level that has the potential to reform our field in the way that Diane Ragsdale envisions in her post (and is our muse for this salon). Read the rest of this entry »

Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25

Posted by Katherine Mooring On April - 4 - 2012

Katherine Mooring

As the chief architect for the Arts & Science Council’s capacity building, professional, and leadership development offerings, I spend a lot of time thinking about the skills and expertise our next generation of arts and cultural leaders will need to be successful, particularly in an environment where change and complexity are the rule, not the exception.

As emerging leaders, we participate in leadership development seminars, attend conferences, enroll in graduate degree programs…you name it…in pursuit of formal training to enhance our professional growth and marketability.

Sometimes, however, we can find just as much value in learning from our peers and listening to those who have paved a path ahead of our own. Hearing authentic, often humbling, human experiences truly resonate and teach us that as much as we try to shepherd our career paths in thoughtful, logical, and strategic ways, sometimes reality (or insanity) takes hold.

When that happens, having a strong informal support network can be the difference between rising to the challenge or allowing the craziness to overwhelm us.

To reinforce the importance of this approach, last spring, ASC’s Emerging Leader’s program hosted a special panel discussion for emerging women leaders in Charlotte’s cultural community.

“For Women by Women: No Really…Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us at 25” was an empowering event led by executive leaders from several major cultural institutions. Each woman shared success stories and stories of failure, and most importantly gave encouraging advice on how each of us—male or female, at whatever career stage—can think big and get out of our own way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Brunch Conversation (or 2030 Vision in Arts Leadership)

Posted by Jonathan Elliott On April - 2 - 2012

Jonathan Elliott

This post began as a series of thoughts on the future of human resources in the arts, and opened up into a personal conversation gone global.

Also, it involves something I am deeply passionate about: brunch.

Once a year, my friend and I—let’s call her Kay—get together for brunch. It’s important for us to check in with one another, to swap ideas about careers, arts management dilemmas, and our Netflix queues.

Kay and I have been friends for twelve years; we’ve both just turned thirty, we both hold MAs in Arts Management, and we both work in jobs we love, for arts organizations on opposite coasts.

Kay took a big bite out of her bagel and lox and said to me, “I’m leaving the industry.”

I blinked three times, as she took a deep breath and told me that, while she loved working in arts marketing, and while it was a fulfilling and affirming line of work, she had desires in life that she and her husband couldn’t reconcile against the current job offerings and future of the industry. I leaned back in my chair, which is the universal sign between the two of us for “game on.”

What happened next was a long debate about what we have in our lives and what we want, and our accomplishments and what’s going to happen next. Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Wilt

In part one of our two-part post, Alex Sarian and I asked an important question:

In trying to keep up with for-profit ‘heavy-hitters’ that arguably boast of greater resources than the average nonprofit, from which of the three areas (quality, engagement, and partnerships), if at all, do you find yourself most cutting corners?

In light of a very recent and rather candid op-ed in The New York Times, we chose to spin our question to incorporate the story of Greg Smith, who this week boldly resigned from his position as executive director at Goldman Sachs after making startling connections between the “success” and the “community” of an organization; a connection that, in many ways, affects all of us who are surrounded by a culture in which we are asked to do more with less.

Smith writes:

“…culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.” Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership Genesis: It’s In Our Best Interest

Posted by Jeanie Duncan On December - 12 - 2011

Jeanie Duncan

Do you recall your first formal leadership development experience? Mine was in 2000 — I was sponsored by a foundation to participate in the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). I was 30, and I had been working for nine years, building a career in the nonprofit sector.

In the early years of my career, I received leadership training from various bosses, mentors, and other seasoned professionals in the form of advice, best practices, and – most often – “in the moment” life lessons. My ‘classroom’ occurred while wearing many hats, trying new things, taking risks, and making my best efforts to exhibit courage in the face of fear. Progress and discoveries came as much by failure as by success.

Today, universities have more formally developed student leadership offerings; many are requirements for undergraduate study. Students graduating and entering the for-profit workplace often begin on a development track and are exposed early on to corporate leadership training, assessments, and coaches.

These kinds of critical opportunities, while assumed and plentiful in the corporate environment, are glaringly absent in the nonprofit sector. And even if available, many leadership programs are cost-prohibitive for many small to medium-sized organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Only Artists Can Make the Difference

Posted by John Eger On December - 2 - 2011

John Eger

Declaring October as National Art and Humanities Month, President Obama made the observation:

“Educators across our country are opening young minds, fostering innovation, and developing imaginations through arts education. Through their work, they are empowering our Nation’s students with the ability to meet the challenges of a global marketplace. It is a well-rounded education for our children that will fuel our efforts to lead in a new economy where critical and creative thinking will be the keys to success.”

More and more people in high places seem to be saying the right thing. Last April, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, said: “The Arts can no longer be treated as a frill. Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical for young Americans competing in a global economy.”

But we have seen too little in the way of action.

Is this because the administration really doesn’t believe what they say about the arts? Because Washington, D.C. can’t get anything done? Or because the benefits are still not obvious to most politicians. Read the rest of this entry »

What I Look for in a Job Candidate

Posted by Mara Walker On November - 18 - 2011
Mara Walker

Mara Walker

We all know finding a job is no easy task these days. To help, we just completed the second in a series of webinars about how to get a job in the arts today.

It featured four brilliant colleagues and myself:  Tara Aesquivel from Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles; Stephanie Evans Hanson from Americans for the Arts; Marialaura Leslie from the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts; and Jennifer Cover Payne from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Last week’s webinar focused on the interview process from the perspectives of both the interviewer and the interviewee, and included a lot of valuable tips. Our previous webinar talked about getting noticed through a cover letter and resume that clearly explain why you are the right person for the job.

I have the privilege of interviewing all of our finalists for positions at Americans for the Arts and regardless of the level of the position or whether the job is operational or programmatic in nature, here’s what I look for in an interview:

1) Personality: Come into the interview relaxed, interested, and prepared. Be genuinely enthusiastic about the organization and the job and let it show. The interviewer wants to know that you are a good fit and if you seem uncomfortable or disengaged during the meeting, then they will assume that’s the real you. Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Bateman

Lately, it seems that every conference I attend, classroom I enter, or art forum I participate in is fixated on the notion of transforming those in the arts field from just merely that of an artist or an administrator to that of a community leader.

While the arts have been recognized for over two decades as a way to revitalize our neighborhoods, it seems like now more than ever before people are reaching out as a way to ignite community engagement and inspire change. But if we are to depend more and more on the arts as a way to transform not only the structural but the psyche of our communities, if we are to elevate from simply artist to organizer, how do we train the next generation who will be stepping into these roles?

Colleges worldwide have the answer through a new breed of degree being offered behind the walls of academia. Or I should say, outside. Breaking artists out of the solo studio experience, placing administrators in the community, and creating programming that reaches beyond the college boundary, colleges are offering an educational experience that focuses on engagement and activism through the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Letter to a Young Administrator

Posted by John Abodeely On September - 22 - 2011

John Abodeely

A friend and colleague—one on the earlier end of her career—recently emailed me and asked what she thought of her possibly moving back to the east coast and entering a graduate program in the hope of advancing her career more quickly.

This is what I wrote her. Because her question is about career development, I have given myself permission to publish it below:

I think there are two things to keep in mind:

1. There isn’t actually a wrong choice. One way or the other, things work out; you’ll find a way to enjoy yourself; the important things tend to settle out the way they will: friends, family, fun, relationships of other kinds. You can pick a path—and it’s important you do—but a path is nothing but a series of choices. Just make sure you choose—don’t sit around too much—and you’ll have good experiences, meet people, see things, etc.

The only time this doesn’t hold is if you’re hell-bent on some outcome: being famous, being a museum educator, etc. In these cases, you can generally mix together the things you must do (like lots of acting jobs, plastic surgery, etc.; a degree in museum education, lots of internships, etc.) with a few rule breaking successes (going indie a couple times to build your acting rep; moving to a small town museum in rural America to be director of education because, while it’s not glamorous, it’ll rapidly advance your career). Read the rest of this entry »

As the Blog Salon Comes to a Close…

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On September - 16 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the thoughts from leaders both in and outside our field during this blog salon in honor of National Arts in Education Week.

As we design and teach our youth programs, we need to keep the end in mind. Where are our students going to end up? How can we help them get there? Our schools’ guidance counselors can’t do everything—they are overburdened, have little arts content expertise, and limited interaction with each student.

That means that it is up to teachers, parents, community members, and those of us that work at arts organizations to guide our students. We need to give students real world experiences, provide them field trips to community organizations and businesses, inform them about career options, and guide them to areas where they are motivated and can excel.

During the salon, we heard examples of how this is already happening:

1)     Alyx’s story about helping students with their first job.
2)    Deutsche Bank’s collaboration with the Partnership for After School Education to create a comprehensive Youth Arts Career Guide. Read the rest of this entry »