ARTSLine
News from the Arts Administration Graduate Program
 
                                        Top   Winter 2014
In This Issue
Welcome from the Editor and Program Directors 
ArtsLine Editor

Cara Scharf, Graduate Assistant
 

Editor's Letter

 

At a recent speaking engagement in Wisconsin, U.S. president Barack Obama said that people can "make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." 

 

The comment sparked some controversy in the arts world, but I don't bring it up to talk politics. Instead, it relates to a topic I've been thinking about lately: the disparity between non-profit and for-profit compensation, especially in the arts. I was surprised when, in a recent Management Techniques class, our professor asked flat out how we felt about our earning potential as arts administrators. I never gave much thought to it----I accepted that I'd never be a millionaire and I've always been convinced that doing what I love is more important than making money----but I found myself worrying about things like buying a house, sending my kids to college, etc. 

 

On top of those worries, the question made me frustrated because I equate the relatively low salaries in our sector with the proliferation of misguided ideas about how non-profits should run and society's undervaluation of the arts. Just because nonprofits are accountable to the public shouldn't make it wrong for leaders to make money. Our skilled labor is no less valuable than that of our for-profit counterparts... right? 


My classmates and I have our work cut out for us in this arena. First, I think we need to reformulate what it means to be a non-profit, and question whether it's the right model for our endeavors. One article in this issue is about a student who founded a for-profit that still does charitable work, just differently. Second, we have to believe in our value and find new ways to measure and disseminate this value to a wider audience. Another article in this issue is about advocacy, which is one way of proclaiming value. 

 

I hope you enjoy this issue of ArtsLine as much as I enjoyed putting it together. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the topics below (and any others), and I invite you to contact me with your own contributions.

 

Sincerely,

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

"Winter is not a season, it's an occupation."

----Sinclair Lewis

 

Greetings from Drexel's Arts Administration programs! Certainly this winter in Philadelphia, with its nonstop barrage of cold wind, ice, and snow, is keeping us occupied.

 

With one week to go until the 11th Annual AAGA Art Auction, the URBN Center is a busy hive of activity. This year's event brings some exciting new features, including online registration, an onsite photo-booth where you can make your own art, and a partnership with Drexel's Design & Merchandising program. There will be great music, food, and art, two award presentations, and lots of time to reconnect, mix, and mingle with your colleagues, so please join in the fun on February 28th. Proceeds from the event support student attendance at Americans for the Arts' National Arts Advocacy Day in March. You can register online here.

 

Our connection to Americans for the Arts grew stronger this year with the election of recent alum Lindsay So to AFTA's Emerging Leaders Council. The Council is a national network of early career professionals who serve to identify and cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America through professional development and peer networking opportunities on the national and local level. Congratulations to Lindsay on this fantastic achievement!

 

Congratulations also go to Assistant Professor Neville Vakharia, who was recently named a Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab Fellow. Neville is part of a small cohort of people chosen by regional foundations, University of Pennsylvania faculty, and seasoned social and venture capital entrepreneurs. Through this fellowship, he will pursue research developing hyperlocal information and communications technology based on the arts administration program's ongoing work in the Powelton and Mantua neighborhoods.

 

We are also embarking on an effort to reconnect with alumni. As part of an upcoming comprehensive review of both the campus and online arts administration programs, we'll be seeking alumni input on your experiences in the program and post-graduation. In the next few weeks, we'll be sending out a short survey, asking for your thoughts and your interest in staying connected to the program and each other going forward. When you see it, please don't hesitate to send the survey out to other alums; we're aiming to reach as many of you as possible through this effort.

 

Once spring (finally) emerges, we've got two more reasons to celebrate, and we hope you'll join us for both. On Monday, April 28th, from 6-9pm, noted arts researcher Alan Brown will be on campus for a public dialogue and reception with current students and alums. On Tuesday, April 29th, Brown will offer a master class for current online and campus students from 4:30-6pm. Save the date now to join us for an opportunity to learn more from one of the field's brightest thought leaders. You'll receive an evite to these events in early April. Space is limited for both, so respond quickly. Visit www.wolfbrown.com to explore Brown's work.

 

Spring and summer will also bring a large wave of new graduates as many current and former students clear the last hurdle for the degree: the master's thesis. Join us for Commencement on Saturday, June 14th, at 1pm to celebrate and toast our newest alums. 

 

Looking forward to warm and sunny days, and to seeing all of you soon,

Dr. Jean Brody

Julie Hawkins

 

Broadening the Definition of AdvocacyAdvocacy
What is Advocacy? 

"Advocacy's most basic definition is to argue in favor of something."

Amy Scheidegger, Founder, Artistic Rebuttal Project

 

"Arts advocacy is seeing the power of art in your life, your neighborhood, or the region and speaking about that power so that others recognize the important role the arts play in our lives and find ways to support it."

Kelli Paul, Director of Development, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

 

"The fancy definition: advocacy is about creating system change that benefits groups of people. The non-fancy definition: it's about changing systems and power-dynamics and bettering the lives of people and communities. It's about convincing anybody to do anything."

Julie Hawkins, Arts Administration Campus Program Director, Drexel University

 

At the end of March, Arts Administration graduate students will descend upon Washington, DC, to participate in Arts Advocacy Day. Organized by Americans for the Arts, the event brings the U.S.'s artists, administrators, and arts supporters together to campaign for arts-friendly policy and government funding.

 

For many, advocacy evokes images of suit-clad bureaucrats spouting legal jargon. But Drexel faculty and alumni are working to change attitudes toward advocacy, because they feel it is an important skill for all arts administrators.

 

One way to convert advocacy's bad reputation is to broaden its definition. All the definitions to the right contain the same basic idea: advocacy is persuading people to see something the way you see it. In this way, advocacy is not so different from fundraising, marketing, or other non-profit functions where you are convincing people that your cause is worth their money or time.

 

"If you work for a cultural organization you're already advocating," says Amy Scheidegger, Arts Administration alum and founder of the Artistic Rebuttal Project. The project began after Sheidegger overheard two people saying that an arts degree was useless. "I was mad," she said. "But rather than complain, I used the tools I gained at Drexel to do something about it."

 

Sheidegger built the Artistic Rebuttal Project around a question: "How would you [an artist] convince someone the arts are valuable?" Using the responses, the project has produced seven book editions and two murals.

 

Another Philadelphia organization doing advocacy work is the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Through GroundSwell, an initiative started in early 2013, the Cultural Alliance is affecting change on the local level, and that includes getting people informed about advocacy issues such as lobbying for a dedicated arts tax in Philadelphia.

 

"I think there's a growing movement of things coming from the bottom up," says Kelli Paul, Arts Administration alum and Director of Development at the Cultural Alliance. "You see other countries overthrowing their leaders and inaction in our congress. Connect that with this generation's savvy in social media. That's where people find their voice."

 

Drexel students are learning about advocacy as a way to deepen their practice. This quarter, on-campus students were offered an elective called Political Activism in the Arts. While the class focuses on political activism and not the broader definition of advocacy, its professor and campus program director, Julie Hawkins, stresses that the class has broad implications because it gives students a 360-degree view of the systems within which our field operates.

 

One tenet of the class comes from the book Forces for Good, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, which says that "high-impact nonprofits engage in both direct service and advocacy (p. 32)". Service is described as filling immediate needs for the organization on the ground, while advocacy fulfills long-term needs by creating cultural and policy change around the issues the organization is working to alleviate. In this way, advocacy is a natural complement to programs. 

 

For the students going to Arts Advocacy Day, it will be an opportunity to network and have formal discussions about the value of the arts. This work can and should be done outside the walls of congress as well. Whether you identify as an advocate or not, it's important to have your own story about the value of the arts and be confident enough to share it. 

This chart, designed by Amy Scheidegger and inspired by a recent Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia event called "Conundrums in Arts Advocacy," maps out who should advocate for the arts. 

 

See the Franklin Institute as Its Director Does, by Rachel Olenick
Dennis Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute 

The longest-serving president in the history of The Franklin Institute, Dennis Wint, found an unobtrusive place in the museum's central hall on Tuesday afternoon and paused against a railing. "There's a school classroom in color coded shirts; there's two mothers with strollers having a snack with their kids; there's high school students breaking off into groups," he said. "Just stand and watch, look at what they're doing and why they're doing it. I do this often. There's no better way to know your audience."

 

As an extension of my coursework in the Arts Administration program, Wint, also The Franklin Institute's CEO, had agreed to undertake a job shadow day before he joins the Museum Leadership faculty in July. An advocate for "management by walking around," the agenda for the day included a tour of the museum at the peak of midday activity.

 

Only three exhibits are in the same place as they were when Wint arrived 20 years ago-the iconic heart, the Franklin Air Show, and the Train Factory. Wint explained they did not relocate the train exhibit because the museum building itself was constructed around the massive Baldwin 6000 locomotive in the 1930's. 

 

With the progress of science and an ongoing effort to capture audience engagement, the life of an exhibition is 10 years at The Franklin Institute. The life of a discarded piece of litter on the floor of an exhibit space was much shorter, as Wint relocated it to a nearby trashcan when we walked by.

 

Wint cannot tell you what earned him an international reputation in museum leadership, but watching him set the agenda of the Parkway Council in the morning and then address the two 5-by-5 inch aluminum squares that appeared awry on the newly installed Karabots Pavilion "Shimmer Wall" gave me some idea. More than once in the course of the day, Wint turned to me to make sure I was able to keep up.

 

Referred to as "a rock star in the museum world," by his staff, Wint is wary of the ivory tower effect that could happen if he spent too much time on the picturesque third floor-even if there is a hawk nest outside on the windowsill.

 

Walking past a corner of the hall where Wint sealed the single highest donation of his career with a $17.5 million handshake, he directed my attention to the museum's mission statement emblazoned on the wall. "It's another way to reinforce why we're all here," he said.

 

In a challenging building with five floors but 17 levels, housing a 190-year-old institution, it takes a leader of Wint's caliber to keep The Franklin Institute focused on that mission: to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology.

 

Olenick currently works as an Account Assistant for Canary Promotion in Philadelphia, PA. 

AidArcade: Student Sean Legnini Games for GoodAidArcade

Sean Legnini studied music business in undergrad and came to Drexel in September of 2012 thinking he would work in the world of music and community development. He was interested in how the music industry could boost charities. But in January of 2013, a friend's idea took him on a completely different path.

 

CS: What does your company, AidArcade, do?

SL: It connects charities and video game makers to give consumers an opportunity to change the world while playing games. Most games make money through microtransactions (think buying a lollipop hammer in Candy Crush Saga). AidArcade gives a portion of these purchases to charity.

 

CS: What's in it for game developers?

SL: New revenue streams. In marketing there is this idea of self-signaling: people buy things because it makes them feel good. We've seen that when there's a charitable action attached to a purchase, people are more inclined to act.

 

CS: How did AidArcade come about?

SL: I have a background in nonprofits but I'm also a professional video game player. My one partner, Ty (the other is Gavin), had an idea for a farm-based game that benefitted charity. But making games is difficult, so instead we decided to inject charitable giving into games that already exist.

 

CS: Why did you make AidArcade for-profit?

SL: With nonprofits, you're at the mercy of funders, who sometimes don't make decisions based on how good your idea is or how passionate your staff are. Even if your nonprofit has a great program, without funds you can't do anything. With for-profits, earning revenue is simply about making something people like.

 

CS: Even though it's for-profit, has your Drexel education still been beneficial?

SL: Yes. In the Arts Administration program I learned to convince donors and audiences to part with disposable income, and that translates perfectly into a for-profit model. It also helps that I understand the nonprofit mindset, because I can speak the language of the charities I meet with. Neville Vakharia, from the program, is on AidArcade's advisory board and he helped us with our business plan. With his encouragement I submitted AidArcade for two business competitions at Drexel, the Baiada Business Incubator Competition and the Nina Henderson Challenge.

 

CS: Where is AidArcade now?

SL: We're getting ready now to launch our first game-charity partnership and talking to venture capital firms to refine our pitch.

 

Check out AidArcade's website to learn more. 

Faculty Research: Andrew Zitcer on Headlong Dance Theater
Andrew Zitcer, Assistant Teaching Professor

While Drexel students diligently gather research for their theses, professors such as Andrew Zitcer are conducting research of their own. For the past six years, Zitcer has served on the board of Headlong Dance Theater, a modern, experimental dance company in Philadephia. The organization has a unique management structure: the three founders serve as both artistic and managing directors, sharing tasks between themselves determined by their own administrative strengths and making all decisions through three-way consensus.

 

Zitcer has chosen to research the company's structure to find out how this kind of cooperative management structure works in practice. "What makes people want to collaborate across long periods of time?" he asks. "Society is all about individualism and people who cooperate go against the grain."

 

For his research, Andrew is interviewing key members of Headlong's operations, including the three co-directors and other staff, dancers, board members, and funders. One thing he has found so far is that the three co-founders are emotionally aware and adept at processing their feelings. "Successful cooperation means having an awareness of others' needs and, in turn, your own," says Zitcer, explaining one reason why the cooperative structure may work well in this particular instance.

 

Zitcer hopes to wrap up his research this year and publish the work in a journal or a compilation of stories about the company shared by his interviewees and community members. So far, he has collected about a dozen interviews and conducted a literature review; he is now compiling his data.

 

He feels that conducting his own research in conjunction with students makes him better in the classroom. "I'm going through the exact same process that I teach students to go through: formulating a topic, research questions, and a methodoly to collect data, and then writing a paper based on it all," he says. "This allows me to bring real world examples to my [thesis seminar] class. I talk with students about my own hangups and they give feedback. I'm learning right along with them."

Thesis Spotlight: A Museum Diversifies by Hadia Mawlawi
In the fall of 2013, I presented my thesis research at the Social Theory and Politics in the Arts conference in Seattle, along with other Arts Administration faculty and students. It was humbling to be part of a group of international researchers from places as far-flung as Turkey, South Korea and the Netherlands. It was also humbling to see the interest paid to my work and the ensuing conversations this elicited. The following is a condensed version of the thesis work that I presented.  

 

In 1993, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) received a multi-year grant from the Wallace Foundation called "A Place for All People" which funded an outreach program in three blue-collared communities in Harris County (Houston) to welcome these groups into the museum and develop programs that resonated with their cultural traditions. The grant expired in 2003 and I wondered if the museum's efforts to diversify had ceased? 

 

My research question asked: "How is the MFAH adapting to Houston's growing Latino population in order to more effectively engage and serve this audience?" I focused on the Latino community because, according to recent demographic statistics, 42% of Harris County's population is Latino and, according to Dr. Stephen Klineberg from Rice University, this trend is unstoppable.

 

For my research, I interviewed several key museum personnel and surveyed 92 Latinos to assess their perception of the museum and whether they considered it a place for all people. I found that Latinos still see barriers to entry, including a lack of information and knowledge about museum happenings and a lack of time and money. Latinos also indicated that they would be more inclined to visit if they saw their culture reflected in exhibits and if ancillary events existed, such as lectures, performances, tours and films.

 

Museum leaders indicated that the marketing budget is limited and that there is no fixed Latino marketing initiative, hence the lack of awareness. Small steps are being taken to address this, including the recent introduction of Spanish language tours on Thursdays (when the museum is free) bi-lingual audio tours, and interpretive texts on select, Latino-themed exhibitions.

 

Recommendations I gave included hiring more staff from the Latino community and including the community in Latino-themed exhibition planning, in addition to inviting local Latino artists to curate their own shows and connect their art to works in the museum's collection.

 

The museum is now preparing to break ground on a multi-million dollar building dedicated to contemporary art from around the world, including over 550 works of Latin American art.  I am curious to see how this will impact Latino visitorship and the museum's commitment to strategies that will reinforce the message: "A Place for All People".

 

 Mawlawi, who graduated last year from the online Arts Administration program, currently works for the Texan French Alliance for the Arts

Student and Alumni News

Student Kevin Gifford became Associate Director of Development for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. He was previously working as Donor Services Coordinator for Opera Philadelphia. 

Student Morgan Gengo recently accepted the position of Director of Marketing and Development with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. 

Half Full, by Rosalind Sutkowski. Her paintings are on display at the Rincliffe Gallery through March 14th.
Student Brittnie Knight is now the Marketing & Administrative Assistant at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. 

Alum Moira Baylson began as Chief Operating Officer at NextCity in January. She was previously the Deputy Cultural Officer at the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, 

Rosalind Sutkowski, Artist and Director of Administrative Services at Drexel's Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, is currently exhibiting her paintings at the Rincliffe Gallery, in Drexel's Main Building. The exhibit, called "Simulated Fijnschilderij:  Where Old Masters and Technology Meet," will be on display through March 14th. It is free and open to the public. 
Arts Administration Graduate Association News

 

Our 11th Annual Silent Art Auction is Friday, February 28th! Join us for food, drink, and the opportunity to bid on unique artworks and exciting arts experiences. There will be something for everyone, including live music from local folk band Grits and Grouper Soup and a photo booth featuring fun props! Get your tickets online here. They will also be available at the door. 

 

Proceeds from the Art Auction will allow first-year students to participate in Arts Advocacy Day, in Washington, DC. The experience is a valuable networking opportunity as well as a chance to advocate for the value of the arts. 


We hope to see you at the Art Auction!

More information about these and all AAGA activities can be found on the AAGA website
 
 

AAGA Contacts

Michelle Baxter

President

michelle.nicole.baxter@drexel.edu 

Morgan Gengo

Vice President

morgan.e.gengo@drexel.edu

Kristine Medley Farmer

Events Director

kmm547@drexel.edu 

Asim Naqvi

Advocacy Director

an479@drexel.edu 

Moriah Shtull

Communications Director

mshtull@drexel.edu

Marnie Lersch

Secretary

mel329@drexel.edu

Laura Sancken

Public Relations Manager

les98@drexel.edu

Cara Scharf

Treasurer

ces337@drexel.edu

Brittnie Knight

First-year Liaison

Email

Emily Hart

First-year Liaison

Email

For general inquiries, please contact aaga@drexel.edu
            
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