News from the Arts Administration Graduate Program
                                           Fall 2014
In This Issue
Welcome from the Editor and Program Directors 

 Carly Rapaport-Stein
 ArtsLine Editor

Editor's Letter


In geometry class many years ago, I learned that a point is precise, always defined by three coordinates: the value of the point's width, length, and height within the space encompassing it. Life, on the other hand, is not always quite that precise, but our experiences can often be outlined and broadly defined by three different coordinates: the time, place, and people that encompass the experience. This issue of ArtsLine, my first as editor, explores themes of finding a creative synergy when bound by those life coordinates. Fringe festivals, the ultimate exploration of creative explosion encapsulated by time, locale, and crowd, are described in the paragraphs below from the perspective of creators, participants, and viewers. Our place, Philadelphia, is examined through stories about the structural changes happening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the art on view throughout the city facilitated by the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. Our online forum, a virtual place of existence shaping the lives of many of our current students, is explored. Our people - the talented faculty, alumni, and students - are featured for their writing, their research, and their achievements throughout this edition.


Graduate school, that amalgamation of research papers, networking, friend-making, and late-night textbook reading, is also bound by place and time, but most importantly, bound by the people who make up and influence the experience. Our experience at Drexel, revolving through the art-rich city around us, is bound by the University's time as we tick off credits, papers, experiences, and theses towards completion. Locale and time frame outline the experience, while our interactions with our professors and peers color in the frame and ignite the creative impulse. My class is inquisitive, opinionated, and passionate, eager to build on our own knowledge, challenge each others' views, and push each other to think, hard, about our conceptions of art and our place in the world.


I am eager to see how my own experiences and perceptions will be shaped throughout my graduate degree by these coordinates. I hope to hear from many of you about your experiences within graduate school or as alumni, and invite you to reach out to help shape this year's ArtsLine.


Carly Rapaport-Stein

Graduate Assistant, ArtsLine




Arts Administration Faculty

Julie Hawkins,  Campus Program Director

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

Andrew Zitcer, Assistant Teaching Professor & Thesis Director
Program Directors' Letter

Dear ArtsLine Readers:

Welcome to the incoming classes of 2014!  We're happy to welcome another talented and energetic class of Arts Administration students joining us on campus and online.  We have 34 new incoming students this year, half online and half on campus.  About half of all of these students hail from Pennsylvania, with strong additional contingents from New York and New Jersey.  Other states represented are Michigan, Missouri, Florida, California, Maryland, Ohio, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, and we also have several students hailing from China, from Nanjing and Shanghai. 


For the second time this fall, incoming Arts Administration and Museum Leadership students participated in a combined orientation day featuring all full-time AADM and MUSL faculty, as well as a panel of students and alums who offered excellent advice on getting the most out of your graduate education. We enjoyed a Mural Arts tour, were introduced to the Jeremy Holmes installation, Convergence, curated by AADM student Marnie Lersch, and saw the Leah Stein Dancers performing in and around the installation.


Jean, Julie, Andrew and Neville are all working this year on completing the PAR (Program Alignment and Review) process, a periodic review process that includes reviewing our curriculum and seeking input from current students, alumni, faculty, and external reviewers.  We look forward to having a chance to take a fresh look at our program, and to letting you know what we learn through this process. 


All of our AADM faculty have been engaged in a major effort in the last year and a half to encourage all outstanding thesis writers to complete their thesis and graduate.  This allows us to maintain our focus on current thesis writers, who are all working on a much tighter schedule for completion than had historically been done in the program.  This has resulted in 28 students completing their thesis this past summer, and a record 64 students graduating in the last 12 months. 


Our faculty have been busy on the research front again.  Here are just a few new things that our faculty have been involved in:

  • Neville Vakharia, Julie Hawkins, and Dr. Andrew Zitcer all attended and presented their research, "A Fragile Ecosystem," at the recent International Conference of Social Theory, Politics and the Arts in Ottawa, Canada.  Alum Jonathan Kitt also presented his master's thesis research, "African American Individual Philanthropy at Large, Mainstream, Nonprofit Performing Arts Organizations in New York City." You can read a brief report on their presentations here.
  • Neville Vakharia has received a grant in collaboration with Partners for Sacred Spaces to create a national, scalable model for matching arts organizations with available space in historic sacred spaces.  He has also had his article, authored with AADM alum Divya Janardhan, "Towards a Knowledge-Centric Arts Organization," published in the American Journal of Arts Management. 
  • Dr. Andrew Zitcer worked with the LeBow College of Business to lead an executive training session for Philadelphia's Emerging Leaders.  His article "Food Co-ops and the Paradox of Exclusivity" was accepted for publication by Antipode: A Journal of Radical Geography.  
  • Students who are interested in participating in faculty-led research projects should contact the faculty, as new opportunities may arise as the year goes on.  Students from both the campus and the online programs have been able to participate in funded research projects in recent years, so let us know!
The faculty look forward to working with this year's AAGA Board.  We hope we'll see you tonight, Thursday, October 23, at the fall event featuring Lily Yeh, and at future events to be announced later this year. For more information about AAGA events, please follow the AAGA website

Have a wonderful fall!

Dr. Jean Brody

Julie Hawkins


Creative Confluence and the Fringe

In exploring the characteristics that bind our experiences, I asked several Arts Administration graduate students to write about their involvement with fringe festivals nationally and internationally. Bound by a brief period of time, based in a particular location, and heavily influenced by the participants and creators, fringe festivals are incubators for ideas and creativity, pushing participants to explore art and art-making in unexpected ways. Students Thom Wall, Naima Murphy, and Wilna Julmiste share their thoughts below.


Inspired Impulses: Shaped by Location, by Thom Wall

"The 'Dinner and a Show' Show," written by myself and juggler Benjamin Domask for the Kansas City Fringe Festival, was heavily influenced by places, both in its format and its content.  As participants in MoonDrop Circus' "Community Circus Week" in Kansas City, we devised a short piece for their open-stage kickoff show. The work we created - a ten-minute-long silent, volunteer-driven juggling number - was the impetus for what became an hour-long theater show as a part of the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Debuting this work in the festival was our way of giving back to the community that gave birth to the project.


Our venue for the Kansas City Fringe was in Union Station, at a small theater right next door to the "King Tut: Recreated" exhibit.  Patrons had to walk past a dizzying number of "King Tut: This Way!" signs and posters on their way to our stage, and a number of self-referencing lines about the exhibit crept their way into our shows.  We played on the Midwest's modest reputation in other parts of the show, with lines like "What could be more refreshing than seafood in Missouri in the middle of July?" and on inter-citiy rivalries with jokes about Chicago and St. Louis.   These moments all resulted from the venues we played and the communities we entertained - without them, the show wouldn't have developed the same way.


This December, Benjamin and I are taking a residency at the New England Center for Circus Arts, where we are workshopping the piece for the 2015 season.  Though we are consciously planning some changes - losing the variety format in favor of subtler moments to integrate skills and routines, for example - we know that it's impossible to predict just how the next location will shape the next iteration of "The 'Dinner and a Show' Show." 


Adventure in Search of a Thesis, by Naima Murphy

This summer, in search of thesis research and personal adventure, I spent one week at Burning Man in Black Rock City, NV. There are aspects of Burning Man that reflect the festival culture we know -- music, dance parties, panel discussions, its temporary nature -- but more importantly, an entire city, culture and philosophy is constructed for the week-long event. With only mass-media interpretations to draw from, I found myself excited and terrified by the abundance of sensory experiences available in Nevada's desert.


What I found immediately is that Black Rock City is strangely familiar. It is an experiential playground that taps into the feeling you get when you follow every instinct. Acting as an observer feels like a disservice to the community and the art. Installations scattered about the desert beg to be explored and trusting strangers with your mood is commonplace. Even while waiting in line for coffee, books in the city's center camp prompt community members to record their earliest memory and share parts of their bucket list. These goals of pursuing curiosity, being kind and taking ownership in your own experiences are at the core of Burning Man's mission. It can be hard to find independence in a space so bound to community, but Burning Man had a way of forcing me to toe that line and trust my instincts. I cannot wait to return and see what next year's version of Burning Man holds in store.


Theater and Bagpipes, by Wilna Julmiste

Set in the middle of the beautiful and scenic town of Edinburgh, Scotland, the 67-year-old Fringe Festival is a revelatory experience not just for those who love theatre but for all who have an appreciation of dynamic art and entertainment. Whether you arrive as an official Fringe participant, set for the three intense weeks of performance in August, or as an enthusiastic audience member, there is a collective spark in the air. The whole city is transformed for the festival, pulsing with energy and anticipation, preparing for almost 50,000 performances of 3,200 shows in 299 venues.


The first time I traveled to the Edinburgh Fringe, I went as a performer with a theatre ensemble.  Our production won the coveted Fringe First award, the first American theatre group to win a Fringe First for the performance venue.  My second trip to the Fringe Festival came as a student through the Drexel study abroad program. I gained a valuable perspective on how the largest and most successful fringe festival in the world is managed. The location played a major part in shaping my learning, as did my dual perspectives of active participant and arts analyst. I encourage all to attend!


Thom Wall is a graduate student at Drexel, taking courses online as he travels the world performing.  He's currently finishing up a three-country tour with Cirque du Soleil's "TOTEM," where he performs a headline juggling act. To read more about Thom's work, please click here


Naima Murphy is a second year graduate student and the Group Sales Associate at the Please Touch Museum. 


Wilna Julmiste is a second year graduate student in the Arts Administration program at Drexel University.

Identity: Redesign at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Carly Rapaport-Stein


When a building is redesigned, does it change the core of the institution's identity? The Philadelphia Museum of Art, a venerable institution, is exploring just that concept by its proposed redesign of its external and internal structures. The Beaux-Arts style museum, finished in 1928, is famous both for its inside and its outside. Its interior is lined with high quality art, collections, and objects, while its exterior is shaped both by its location looking out over the Schuylkill river and by the iconic "Rocky Steps." Running up the "Rocky Steps" has become synonymous with true Philadelphian achievement - conquering insurmountable obstacles in the face of all odds.


While the building is iconic, changes are necessary, as after 90 years of continuous use, the beautiful building shows its age. Frank Gehry, the master architect behind a long list of famous spaces, including Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, is leading the redesign, and his proposed plan, a projected remodel taking 10-15 years, was on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this past summer.


According to the architectural plans, the exterior will not change drastically: an original entrance, now used as a loading dock, will return to its original use; more landscaping will be utilized; and some skylights and gardens will be added to the East Terrace to bring more light into the building. Step-running athletes and tourist picture-takers standing in Rocky's place can breathe a sigh of relief, as those famous steps will have a few minor improvements but will not change in character.


The interior, however, will undergo major changes. New spaces are being carved out for a lecture hall, learning center, special exhibition rooms, extra gallery space, meeting rooms, and an entirely new public space, the Forum, just below the Great Stair Hall. The museum is adding over 169,000 square feet of exhibition space, an astonishing amount of space for visitors to move through and to interact with art.


Not only will the extra space make an impact on visitors, it will also change the character of the museum, opening up the dark interior with more natural light and with an airier feel. In changing the interior, Gehry proposes to change the space within the museum, and while the art itself will not change drastically, the public's interaction with the art will be different.


This changing interaction is what will alter the character of the museum, more so than any structural change. In opening itself up, reimagining its place and space, and welcoming in more people and a more diverse audience, the museum sets itself apart as an institution willing to make the structural changes necessary to engage future generations. The art will remain as breath-taking and thought-provoking as ever, and if the redesign enhances the art experience as it is meant to do, then perhaps the Philadelphia Museum of Art has not really changed its core identity after all, but strengthened it.


For more information on the redesign or on happenings at the museum, visit The Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Carly Rapaport-Stein is a first year graduate student and the editor of ArtsLine.

Spotlight: The Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, by Marnie Lersch

October should officially be designated Arts Month in Philadelphia. I am amazed at the sheer volume of quality arts-related activities that well forth in the month following the lingering summer haze of August and September. This is no different at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the careers of professional artists in the region. CFEVA offers the public a month-long opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look into artist studios throughout Philadelphia through the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST). From Queen Village to Kensington, West Philly to Callowhill, over 200 artists and creative workspaces open their doors to you, me, and everyone else throughout October. 

Granted, I may be a bit biased. As Program Associate at CFEVA I have been handed the reigns to POST, one of the premier open studio tours in the nation and certainly the most publicly engaging and diverse citywide visual arts event in Philadelphia. Facilitating POST has been no easy task for a recent transplant (I moved from New York in September 2013).  POST provides a calendar of supplementary exhibitions and events to provide audiences with a well-rounded, month-long visual arts experience, a mobile app for the tours, and a curated touring experience through our Guided Trolley Tours on both Sundays of Open Studios. I provide assistance to artists as well as manage huge amounts of information for our online and print directories, which list POST participants by name, an image, contact information, and studio location by neighborhoods segmented east and west of Broad Street. 

Lauren Boilini's The Fugue photographed by Caitlin Beattie
Artist Jordan Griska photographed by Jurgita Cenkute

And yet, I am reveling in all of this hard work and data management. My work-fueled happiness is due to the relationships I am cultivating and the enormous impact POST has on the visual arts community in Philadelphia.  The people involved in POST have had an enormous impact on my experience as a coordinator: I have met so many friendly, welcoming artists, staff members and audiences, and heard so many stories about the opportunities POST provides for artists and audiences alike. 


POST nurtures an improved relationship between Philadelphia's artists and its residents and visitors by providing a comprehensive platform for this interaction. All too often the beauty of the artistic process is hidden behind closed doors. Since I began at CFEVA in August, I've marveled at the excitement and eagerness of these artists, staff, and audience to teach and to learn from one another through POST. I have come to the conclusion that the visual art community here is a family, warm and welcoming, waiting to share what they do best, make art and make art matter.



Marnie Lersch is a Drexel graduate student and Program Associate at CFEVA. For more information about Center for Emerging Visual Artists or the Philadelphia Open Studio tours visit their websites listed below or contact Marnie Lersch at or 215.546.7775 ext.13.





Virtual Reality: My Online Community, by Olivia Morton

The internet is a large place. So is Philadelphia, but inside this vast city of people lies the small, tight knit community of Drexel's Arts Administration program. I'm a program participant, but here's the difference: my small community is actually made up of individuals from all over the country. I am living the life of an online student.

I've been in Philadelphia since 2010. Started my own life and decided to go back to school to make my dreams come true. Needing to work full-time hours, I knew that an online program would be more convenient for me, time wise. 
Time. When do I have time to be a graduate student? Usually after my job in education, before I go to sleep. My weeks even run differently: Wednesday 
through TuesdayWeekends are filled with work, but I love the work that I do. Discussions aren't live or in real time. You share thoughts with people thousands of miles away or from someone across the city at all times of the day or night. 
Place. The discussion board. My life on Blackboard, where people share thoughts, ideas, dreams, and passions, where everything is laid out in plain text, where my classmates put their lives out on a screen for everyone to see. Even though it isn't physical, there is an academic vibe that exists once I click the link to my class, similar to opening the classroom door in URBN. You never know what is going to happen, what you are going to see, what ideas will be sparked. One class changed my entire thesis. There is a more free flowing sense than sitting in a classroom. And going to class in pajamas is the best thing ever.
People. The largest difference between the campus program and the online program is the global experience I receive from my classmates. From a neighbor in Philadelphia to visual artists in California and rural music educators in Nebraska, art is everywhere. I wish that I was able to have the connections that the on-campus students have, but the world-widening view I see from my classmates through a computer screen is no match.  I wouldn't trade my online experience for anything in the world. 

Olivia Morton is a second-year graduate student at Drexel. She currently works in education and aspires to have a career in music education programming at a non-profit organization.
Arts Happenings on Drexel's Campus
Drexel Performances
Philadelphia is rich with artistic and cultural activities, but so is Drexel's campus! In addition to the numerous special lectures and screenings held at the university, Westphal holds an active performance calendar. Click here for a complete listing of events or here to follow the Performing Arts at Drexel.

Bill Walton; artist to artist
Join the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery for their current exhibition Bill Walton; artist to artist on view now through December 5. To learn more, visit the website here, or follow the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery on Facebook or Twitter! The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery is located in the URBN Center Annex at 3401 Filbert Street.
Student and Alumni News


Student Donald Hunt began working as the Executive Assistant at Settlement Music School.


Clare Lowry, a first-year student, is now the Marketing Intern at the Pennsylvania Ballet. 


Student Naima Murphy accepted a position as Group Sales Associate at the Please Touch Museum.


First-year student Nicole Myles is now the Communications and Programming Intern at the Leeway Foundation

Student Cara Scharf recently accepted the position of Program and Communications Manager at the Wagner Free Institute of Science.

Meg Wolensky, a first year student, became the Development Intern at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

First-year student Suhee You accepted a Development Intern position at the Mural Arts Program. 


In July, alumna Lindsay Kenney ('12) opened Mosaic Music Lessons in Phoenixville PA with her husband, Joe Kenney. Mosaic Music Lessons is a private studio with a staff of seven and an enrollment of 60 students. The studio works with nonprofit Musicopia by serving as an instrument drop-off location and collecting musical instruments for children in need. 

Alumna Elizabeth McDonnell ('09), a mixed media artist, launched her own business centered around her artwork. Full details about the business can be found on her website,

To add your name and accomplishments to the Winter edition of ArtsLine, please contact Carly Rapaport-Stein
Arts Administration Graduate Association News

Upcoming Events

This evening, Thursday, October 23, Drexel's AAGA will host a screening of "The Barefoot Artist" followed by a discussion with artist Lily Yeh and filmmakers Glenn Holsten and Daniel Traub. To register for the event, please click here, and to read first-year AADM student Hannah Rechtschaffen's blog post about the event, please click here

On Saturday, November 15 from 10 am-12 pm, the AAGA will host a professional development day on the Drexel campus. Students will receive information about resumes, cover letters, and interviewing from Kelli Paul, Director of Development for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and other professionals in the arts administration field. 

On Saturday, December 13, the AAGA will host an informal holiday gathering. We hope you will join us for a fun evening of food and conversation!

The Annual Arts Auction is scheduled for late FebruaryMore information about all AAGA activities can be found on the AAGA website, and please check back for more details on all three events!

2014-15 AAGA Contacts

Brittnie Knight


Mike Tanis

Vice President

Naima Murphy

Events Director

Cara Scharf

Advocacy Director

Olivia Morton

Communications Director 

Leah Appleton


Hannah Rechtschaffen

Public Relations Manager 

Carly Rapaport-Stein




For general inquiries, please contact
Drexel University Arts Administration |
3501 Market Street, Suite 210
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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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