News from the Arts Administration Graduate Program
Fall 2013
In This Issue
Welcome from the Editor and Program Directors 
ArtsLine Editor

Cara Scharf, Graduate Assistant

Editor's Letter


Back in March, when I was researching and deciding on graduate school programs, I read the Philadelphia City Paper article called PIFA and the Future of Arts Funding in Philly. This article described the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, an event that many found controversial in a city where the arts had ballooned to an arguably unsustainable level. Hearing that Philadelphia's arts scene may be headed for disaster worried me, especially as I was about to spend a lot of money and time in the city working toward a Master's Degree in Arts Administration.


During my interview at Drexel with program director Julie Hawkins, I asked about this article and how she saw the future of Philly's arts scene. She admitted that there was a lot of uncertainty on the horizon. But she also felt that, in this current environment, it is even more important for young arts administrators, who have new ideas and perspectives, to be educated about how to run arts organizations.


I hear this echoed in many of my classes, where professors stress that we are entering the field during a time of massive change, and it will be up to us to adapt and innovate. Rather than make me feel scared, these discussions make me feel excited and empowered: as students and graduates of this program, it is our ideas and expertise that could be the key to helping an organization survive and thrive.


In this issue of ArtsLine, you'll read about many innovations from Drexel faculty and students, as well as challenges faced by alumni and other Philadelphia arts leaders. I hope reading these articles excites you as much as it excites me, and shows you how Drexel is leading the way into the future of the arts field.


Please don't hesitate to email me any feedback on this issue, and I would love for alumni and current students to share article ideas and news with me for future issues. Also, if you're interested in being a contributor, please get in touch! 



Cara Scharf

Arts Administration Faculty

Julie Hawkins,  Campus Program Director

Jean Brody, Online Program Director 
Neville Vakharia, Assistant Professor & Research Director

Andrew Zitcer, Assistant Teaching Professor
Program Directors' Letter

Greetings, Arts Administration community! This is an exciting time for the Drexel AADM programs, in Philadelphia and around the country. 


Locally, we are seeing a number of transitions in our arts and culture community. Several local arts organizations are going through periods of leadership or organizational transition.  Gary Steuer, who has led the Mayor's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy since 2008, is stepping down to lead a Denver foundation. Tom Kaiden, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, stepped down last summer to accept a new position. Please Touch Museum recently defaulted on its loans, and may be headed for bankruptcy. 


A series of articles by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Peter Dobrin traces some of these changes, as well as shifts in our local philanthropic landscape that are changing where local nonprofits can expect to seek financial support in future years. At the same time, in our local political landscape, we are anticipating changes in leadership in the governor's office, the mayor's office, the state legislature, and in Philadelphia's City Hall. 


These developments and more will impact the environment in which arts organizations are working in our local community and in our state. 


Meanwhile in Drexel's Arts Administration programs, we are experiencing a time of great forward momentum, as we continue to prepare our students to thrive in this evolving arts and cultural landscape. 

  • We've seen a very large incoming class - a total of 60 in the combined online and campus programs. Once again our new classes represent great diversity of experiences, artistic backgrounds, and professional accomplishments.
  • While we continue to see about a third of our students joining us from Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states, we are also joined by students from more far-flung U.S. states. See the map below for more. 
  • After spending nearly 15 months developing the new Museum Leadership program and searching for its new director, Dr. Jean Brody is pleased to pass on the reins of our new Museum Leadership program to Dr. Danielle Rice. Dr. Rice is an accomplished museum administrator, art historian and arts educator; she comes to us from the Delaware Art Museum. 
  • Courses in the new Museum Leadership (MUSL) program are open to AADM students as electives, and vice versa. MUSL is a hybrid program, with both campus and online courses. Some AADM courses are either required or elective courses for MUSL students, so Museum Leadership and Arts Administration students will be in courses together beginning this year. 
  • We were pleased to welcome visitors from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in October, in a program organized by Neville Vakharia that showed off some of the creative thinking that's going on at Drexel and in particular at the ExCITe Center
  • Assistant Professor and Research Director Neville Vakharia is continuing to grow our research capacity, including a recent research presentation at the International Conference on Arts & Culture Management in Bogotá, Colombia; development of a mobile app to help museums build visitor engagement; a sponsored research project with the consulting firm WolfBrown that is engaging three of our online AADM students; and a joint project with Professors Julie Hawkins, Andrew Zitcer, and an interdisciplinary team of students that is assessing the cultural assets and needs of two neighborhoods surrounding our campus.  This project was jointly presented at the Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts conference in October. 
  • Later this year, we look forward to a visit by Alan Brown, whose work many of you are familiar with through An Architecture of Value, Counting New Beans, and other work (see the Wolf Brown website). Dr. Jean Brody and Neville Vakharia received a grant to bring Brown in as a Rankin Scholar. He will present a public talk for the Drexel and Philadelphia cultural communities on April 28, and an event just for AADM students and faculty on April 29. Mark your calendars!
  • Dr. Andrew Zitcer is starting an organizational ethnography of Headlong Dance Theater, a Philadelphia arts organization in the midst of a radical transformation, and is also conducting a public health study of a network of community-based acupuncture clinics. 

    We both look forward to getting to know our 60 new students, and to seeing what an additional 30-40 new theses and newly minted AADM graduates will soon be contributing to our field.



    Julie Hawkins and Dr. Jean Brody

    Makeup of the incoming class
    There are nearly two times more arts administration graduate students starting this year than last year. Students, in both the online and on-campus programs, come from all over the United States and China. The maps above show the geographic diversity of this wonderfully large incoming class. 
    Students, Faculty Collaborate on Community Research Project

    When on Drexel University's campus, it is easy to forget that you are part of a larger community filled with families, non-students, and non-University businesses. A new research project, conceived by faculty in the Arts Administration program and funded by Drexel, is engaging students, faculty, and members of the surrounding community to assess the nearby neighborhood's arts and cultural needs and prescribe an action plan for the future.


    The project, which you may have heard referred to as the "Community Research Project," is focused on the Mantua and Powelton Village neighborhoods, defined as the area stretching east to west between the Schuykill River and 40th Street, and north to south from the Amtrak train tracks to Market Street.


    "Drexel decided it wants to not just be in the community, but of the community," says Dr. Andrew Zitcer, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Arts Administration program. "They asked faculty to research the neighborhood's challenges and opportunities, and involve students." When the University opened funds for research projects, Zitcer, along with program director Julie Hawkins and professor Neville Vakharia, jumped at the chance to submit a proposal because it gave them the chance to work together as a team and involve students in a paid, real-world learning opportunity.


    The research questions for the project include:

    • What arts, culture, and creative assets exist in these communities now?
    • What are the support systems for artists in these communities?
    • What barriers to economic and cultural vibrancy exist in these communities?
    • What opportunities exist to leverage existing assets, make new connections, and strengthen existing ones?

    To carry out the research, faculty hired students from the Arts Administration and other programs, such as Science, Technology, and Society. Working in a team, the students conducted literature reviews and are now conducting intercept surveys and leading focus groups with community leaders and members. The information they gather will be put into a final needs assessment, complete with recommendations for implementation, that will be shared with community members.


    The four students involved credit this experience for helping them see the principles they've learned in class play out in real time. "This is not a case study. These are real people," says student researcher Laura Oxenfeld, who is designing her thesis for her Masters program in Science, Technology, and Society around the project. "I see the ways the research I'm conducting makes a difference in the community."


    The next step for the project, if funding and manpower can be secured, would be to actually implement recommendations to enhance and expand Mantua and Powelton Village's cultural offerings. In terms of academic output, the research is already serving as the raw material for an elective class taught by Julie Hawkins called Community and Cultural Planning and faculty presented the project at the 39th Annual International Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts in Seattle this month.


    Both students and faculty involved stress that community buy-in is paramount to this project. "We hope that the end product is something that is meaningful and inclusive of both university stakeholders and people in the community," says Rachel Olenik, another researcher and Arts Administration student. Hawkins agrees, saying, "We'd like the community to feel like this is theirs, not ours."

    MuseumLeadershipNew Museum Leadership Program: Interview with Director Danielle Rice

    This fall, Drexel welcomed five students into a Museum Leadership Master's program directed by Dr. Danielle Rice, who most recently served as executive director of the Delaware Art Museum and, before that, spent 19 years at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I sat down with Dr. Rice to talk about the program and its future.


    Cara Scharf: What fueled the creation of this program?

    Dr. Danielle Rice: The most direct catalyst was Drexel's alliance with the Academy of Natural Sciences. The Arts Administration program had been successfully subdivided before [into the online program], so splintering into Museum Leadership followed from that success, too.


    CS: What makes this program unique?

    DR: Some schools have fragmented programs that separate museum education from other leadership aspects, or general museum studies programs. Nowhere is there a program specifically for museum leadership.


    CS: What does leadership mean and how does the curriculum develop leaders?

    DR: We define leadership as visionary and assertive, qualities that managers don't necessarily have. The curriculum helps students see the larger picture. We want to develop partnerships with Drexel's LeBow College of Business and the Hospitality Management program, for instance, to introduce our students to a huge range of skills and ideas. Drexel has so many multidisciplinary resources in-house.


    CS: What drew you, personally, to the program?

    DR: I was happy at the Art Museum, but teaching was what I always wanted to do. All of my kids are out of the house so it seemed like the perfect moment to transition.


    CS: What are some challenges museums now face?

    DR: Diminishing audiences is one of the greatest challenges and it leads to diminished resources. Something I love about this program is that it gives students a chance to think broadly. When you're in a museum trying to survive, it's different. In the program, you get distance. 


    CS: What do you hope the program will be 10 years from now? 

    DR: My dream is that it will be the go-to program for people who want leadership positions in museums and for existing museum leaders who want to refresh. I'd also love to see a non-degree-granting institute where people can gain new knowledge. I would love to hear feedback from alumni, and I welcome people to give our students networking contacts, practicum opportunities, ideas for curriculum, and more. I welcome people to contact me! 


    Learn more about the Museum Leadership program curriculum and faculty on its website. Contact information for Dr. Rice can be found here

    Insights from the Field: Current Challenges
    ArtsLine asked prominent arts professionals, including alumni, to answer the question: What is one challenge you face in your work, and how do you overcome it? Here's what people had to say: 

    Sometimes I think we spend too much time and energy solving the wrong problem. To help myself stay focused on what matters, I try to ask myself "why are we doing this," and then ask "why" to that answer, and then "why" to that answer. If I can't answer the question, maybe it's time to move on to something else. - Nicholas Dragga, Executive Director, Lubbock Ballet, alum 2013


    My most prominent challenge at work is facing organizational change.  To overcome the challenge, I remind myself to be involved and influential, instead of being resistant to changes.  I try to celebrate the successes of my colleagues, myself, and the organization to maintain a positive attitude throughout the sometimes difficult process - and to focus on the payoffs that will ultimately result from our hard work and planning. - Jenny Snyder, State-Based Activities Associate, Cultural Data Project, alum 2005, and presenter for the AAGA's Professional Development Day


    After several years of cuts and level funding to the arts & culture line items in the state budget, it's tough to keep advocates energized.  At Citizens for the Arts in PA, we find that our communication tools, be it our website, our e-newsletter or our periodic conference calls, keeps our advocates up-to-date on the happenings in Harrisburg and helps keep them motivated.  The sharing of ideas, on our calls, is especially helpful. - Jenny L. Hershour, Managing Director, Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, and participant in the AAGA's Advocacy at All Levels panel


    Due to CDP's transition and strategic planning efforts, things are very hectic and I often find myself multi-tasking all day every day.  I recently had an "ah-ha" moment during a facilitation workshop where I discovered that as a result, I am not the best listener.  Through this workshop I realized that I need to work on being more present in the moment and moving forward I will not drag my laptop and my iPhone to every meeting! - Flo Gardner, Senior Associate, Business Development, Cultural Data Project, alum 2010, and presenter for the AAGA's Professional Development day


    One of the biggest challenges I face in my job relates to collaborations. As Executive Director of one of many youth performing arts groups in the city, I am contacted regularly by peer organizations about developing joint performances or other events. While it is great that others are interested in working with us, I sometimes struggle to determine what the true value of a collaboration might be: what tangible benefits might this bring our young musicians, who are the true reason we exist? Arts leaders must evaluate the benefits of any partnership, but particularly partnerships that involve young people, and evaluate how the partnership relates back to the organization's mission. We should work with partners, but also remain mission-driven. - Jon Hummel, Executive Director, Philadelphia Sinfonia, alum 2011, and Adjunct Instructor, Technology Management

    As a state arts funder, I'm finding a disconnect from the field of artists and arts organizations due to the time and dollars it takes to get out and build relationships. It is a priority of mine to travel with my staff to at least the nine arts councils around the state to begin conversations with our constituents. So far, it's going well and barriers are coming down. - Cathy Hernandez, Executive Director, Louisiana Division of the Arts, alum 2003


    In many institutions, the Department of Government and External Affairs is a one person entity. At times it can be a challenge trying to accomplish certain goals or requests to further advance the institution's mission. That being said, staff from other departments (Development, Education, Finance, Legal, Facilities, etc.) have committed themselves to working to ensure this area of the Museum will not falter. It really speaks to the talent and skill sets of the employee base which helps me realize what a wonderful place the Museum is to work in as a professional. - Joe Meade, Director, Government and External Affairs, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and participant in the AAGA's Advocacy at All Levels panel


    After twenty-one years in this position I think I have seen every challenge an arts administrator must face.  Finances are always an issue, but I think our greatest challenge right now is the search for qualified board members.  This problem persists in our region because the same people often move from organization to organization or try to participate in several organizations at once.  For better or worse, many volunteers are now starting to retire from their roles, so we are trying to recruit new, younger people who bring fresh ideas and an understanding of technology. Still, lack of acceptance by the "old guard," interest by those of the "me generation" in volunteering and a lack of board training opportunities makes this transition very difficult. Our board did recently welcome several young members and has made a conscious effort to reach out to more. This transference of power to the next generation is vital for the future health of our, or any, organization.
    - Laura L. Goss, Executive Director, Pocono Arts Council, alum 1983


    After more than 10 years of No Child Left Behind, I believe that arts organizations are starting to experience the effects of eliminated arts education programs. Public participation in the arts is on the decline, and we are competing with a growing number of options for disposable income and spare time. If an early introduction to the arts is a primary determining factor for participation later in life, arts organizations must take the lead on arts education programming previously provided by education institutions. This will change the nature of our organizations, as we will not only be responsible for the creation of art, but we are now the primary source of arts education, something absolutely vital to the health of our field. - Chad Bauman, Managing Director, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Adjunct Instructor of Marketing, Drexel University 

    If you would like to suggest a future topic for an "Insights" feature and/or contribute your own quotes, please email ArtsLine. 
    See Mobile Museum App in Action at Pearlstein Gallery
    Screenshot of the mobile web app site for Pearlstein's current exhibit.

    Many museums are embracing smart phones as a tool to guide visitors through their collections. However, small museums, like Drexel's Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, lack the resources and technical expertise to take advantage of existing mobile app services. Through a collaboration between professor Neville Vakharia and local entrepreneur Cliff Stevens, the Pearlstein gallery is serving as an incubator for a new mobile web app that addresses the unique needs of small institutions.


    What makes the app ideal for Pearlstein and other small institutions is that it allows staff to easily record audio clips about specific pieces and immediately publish them to a mobile web app customized to their institution. Visitors can get to the site using their phone's browser or a QR code (no need to download an additional app). Numbers on the walls of the gallery direct users to audio recordings about the pieces they are viewing.


    The Pearlstein gallery is proving an ideal place to pilot and refine this tool in anticipation of a potential commercial release. The gallery benefits from the collaboration, too. Professor Vakharia and Amber Lauletta, Pearlstein Gallery Manager and Arts Administration student, both stress that this new tool is easy to use and plays an important role in educating and engaging the viewer, because staff cannot always give tours. They hope that the tool can, in the future, have more interactive components such as the ability for users to share their own impressions of the art with other visitors.


    Now through November 22nd, you can view Start of a Long Journey: The Collection of Excellent Alumni Works from China Central Academy of Fine Arts at the Pearlstein. Be sure to visit and bring your phone! 

    Student and Alumni News
    Student Jessica Scipione recently accepted the position of Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to receiving this position, Jessica worked part-time as the Development Assistant at the ICA.
    Alum Amy Scheidegger, director of the Artistic Rebuttal Project, celebrated the dedication of a new mural in concert with Mural Arts. Called "Art Makes Me Confident: A Youth Artistic Rebuttal", the mural is located at 41st and Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. 

    Student and juggler Thom Wall performed in Philadelphia this month with his Vaudeville-style act called The Hopeless Throwmantics. Learn more about the show and other tour stops here.  


    Alum Johanna Marie Sisto started a new job in September, as Director of Theatre Operations at the Penn's Landing Playhouse. The playhouse is inside Philadelphia's Independent Seaport Museum. 

    Student Asim Naqvi recently started a new position, Reception Associate, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Asim continues to serve as a Ticketing Services Agent at the Walnut Street Theatre. 


    Alum Amy Gibbs took a new position at AMS Planning & Research.


    Alum Tim Weeks took a new position at University of the Sciences.


    Alum Lindsay Tucker So took a new position at the Mayor's Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Enterprise.


    Alum Audrey Szychulski recently took a new position as Executive Director of the Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra.


    Alum Jen Schick started a new, open-air market called PHAIR (Philadelphia Open Air Market). PHAIR takes place each Saturday, between 10am and 5pm, at 23rd and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. It runs this year until November 23rd, and features local artisans, food, and food trucks. 


    Alum Brittany Hall recently accepted a new position as Director of Development at the Binghamton Philharmonic.


    Alum Caitlin Flaherty was recently appointed Assistant to the Dean for Arts Programming at Delaware County Community College.


    Student and musician Donald Hunt is working on a debut album, to be called "Life or Imagination". You can find out more about Donald on his website and the album on his indiegogo page

    Arts Administration Graduate Association News



    AAGA Contacts


    Michelle Baxter



    Morgan Gengo

    Vice President


    Kristine Medley Farmer

    Events Director 


    Asim Naqvi

    Advocacy Director 


    Moriah Shtull

    Communications Director


    Laura Sancken

    Public Relations Manager


    Marnie Lersch



    Cara Scharf



    For general inquiries email

    In the past month, the Arts Administration Graduate Association presented two events: Professional Development Day and the Fall Speaker Series: Advocacy at All Levels panel. 
    Flo, left, and Jenny, middle, answer some of events director Moriah Shtull's questions.

    On Professional Development Day, students were joined by alums Jenny Snyder and Flo Gardner, both currently working for the Cultural Data Project. They offered advice for resumes, cover letters, interviews, and networking. 
    Hershour, left, and Meade, right, pose with AAGA Advocacy Director Asim Naqvi.

    The Advocacy at
    All Levels panel included director of Citizens for the Arts PA Jenny Hershour and Director, Government & External Affairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Joe Meade to talk about what advocacy is and why it's important.
    Students, mark your calendars now for the upcoming Holiday Party! Planned for Thursday, December 12th at Howl at the Moon piano bar in Center City Philadelphia, this event will last from 5pm to 8pm and include food, drinks, and general merriment. The event will be ticketed; be on the lookout for emails about how you can secure your spot to attend. 
    For more information on future events and news from the AAGA, visit the organization's website and join their Facebook group. 
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    Please use the email above to send any ideas for articles or news items. ArtsLine invites alumni and students to contribute relevant articles for future issues. 

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