Hello! My name is Anna Mayes and I graduated from Drexel's Arts Administration in December of 2020. My master's thesis was titled "Organization Programming and Mission Fulfillment in a Time of Crisis." This thesis was a multi-case study that looked at the programming decisions of Opera Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Philly POPS. While I looked at both regular season and education programming, I became increasingly interested in the ways that these organizations were fulfilling their mission through education. When I started my thesis last March, I had no idea what was going to happen. In fact, one of my classmates asked me what I would do if the COVID-19 pandemic was over after a month. I didn't have an answer, but I knew that it was a topic I wanted to research because the arts had never faced an event like a global pandemic. There was no right response to this pandemic and each of these organizations responded in the way that fit them best. Prior to my time at Drexel, I attended Washington College in Chestertown, MD where I majored in Music and English with double minors in History and Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Q: How did your thesis land you your current position?
A: During my last semester at Drexel, I started doing some social media work for Live Arts Maryland in Annapolis, MD. The artistic director, Ernie Green, was my choir director and musical director during undergrad and we had a strong working relationship. At the time, LAM was beginning to expand and gained a new venue that would allow for more recording and community engagement. After talking about my thesis with Ernie and sending it to him, he asked me if I would like to come on board full-time to work with community engagement. Since they are expanding, they were looking to bring someone on to create new programming for a current/post-COVID world. The timing was perfect and I just happened to have a connection to an organization looking for someone with knowledge/ideas for education and community programming during COVID-19.
Q: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
A: That’s a big question. Whether it be with LAM or another organization, I want to continue working with education and community programming. I haven't even officially started my job yet, but it is already so cool and I love what I'm doing. I've thought about going to get my Ph.D., but that's something I will decide later.
Q: If you could go back in time and give your graduate student-self any advice what would it be?
A: Simple: Stop second-guessing yourself. You are in this program for a reason and you bring a unique perspective to the table. Grab some coffee or tea, go to URBN, and continue to invest in your education.
Q: What is your mission in the arts and culture sector? What changes are you currently supporting? What is a perfect world for you and the industry?
A: My mission right now is to make arts education accessible to everyone in my community through innovative programming. I know..."innovative" is a buzzword, but I think that we need to be more innovative now than we were before due to continuing safety concerns. In a perfect world, everyone has access to the arts and arts education. Arts funding is often one of the first things to get cut, which is very unfortunate. I believe that it is one of the few things where everyone can find something that they love. I am and always have been an advocate for accessibility and funding. The arts are changing and will continue to change. Right now, a lot of organizations are producing virtual works which allow people in other states to view their works. I believe the question now is: How are we going to reach the people in our community who do not have the resources to watch our performances online?
1. Why did you choose to pursue a career in arts administration?
I've always been business minded so I knew I wanted to eventually be involved in management, even though I started off as a performer. I knew that I wanted to be in a position of influence to impact what audiences eventually would see on stage. But when I began working professionally, I didn't see anyone that looked like me in administration. So, I knew I had to be in the room where decisions were being made. And I battled for a while trying to balance my artistic practice and administrative work, but I finally came to the realization that administration is simply an extension of my artistic practice."
2. What does advocacy for equity and diversity in the arts mean to you?
Advocacy for equity and diversity in the arts to me means continuous work. We have operated for so long as a sector in traditional ways that have sometimes been rooted in oppression. But advocacy in these areas challenges people to imagine the possibilities. But we are not going to undo these systems, mindsets, and practices overnight. It takes continuous work, consistency, having sometimes difficult conversations. But I believe it will be SO worth it in the end. Advocacy means we are opening doors for people who have been kept out, and creating a space for them to be welcomed, valued, and respected.
3. What do you hope to achieve as an administrator and leader?
Wow - I hope to achieve so much! But right now, I hope to be able to influence change within our field. Particularly in my home state of New Jersey, I want to be able to bring the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion to the forefront of how we create art. Someone advocated and fought for me to have a seat at the table, so my current mission is to empower and bring visibility to other arts administrators of color. Overall, I hope to empower all people through the arts.
Hello! My name is Liz Sloan, and I will be the ArtsLine editor for the next three issues. It feels as if we just started classes, but the quarter is almost over and winter is coming!
Yes, that was a Game of Thrones reference.
I'd like to share a little about me: I'm from an hour south of Pittsburgh, PA near Washington county. My part-time job is creating content, PR, and marketing for my lifestyle blog foxandluxe.com (@foxandluxe). I received my bachelor's degree in vocal performance and dove into content creation during that time - I absolutely love it!
My current career goal is to build and run a social media marketing service for young artists. I want to teach people how to properly utilize socila media to further their careers.
By Sarah Christy
Friday the 13th of March was the last time I worked in my office at International House Philadelphia. Just six weeks prior, after six years with the nonprofit organization in various roles, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. The organization was already in the midst of a transition, having announced last fall that we would be selling our building and transitioning away from our legacy housing and film programs to find newly relevant ways to support Philadelphia’s international community. Just a month and a half into this new role, we made the difficult decision to significantly reduce operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In very little time I was tasked with drafting a Continuity of Operations plan, setting up technological infrastructure to facilitate working from home, creating a plan to maintain our 14-story building on Chestnut Street while adhering to social distancing guidelines, and interpreting a very dense piece of government legislation with the passage of the CARES Act. All of us are experiencing massive disruptions in our work and home routines as a result of this pandemic and I feel incredibly lucky to continue to have work during these uncertain times. And although I never anticipated that my first few months as COO would be spent in my living room, it has forced me to be innovative, adaptable, and forward-thinking – all tools that will serve me well as I continue my career in the nonprofit arts field.
At the same time, I am currently in my last quarter in the Arts Administration program and completing my thesis. I am fortunate that I conducted my primary research prior to the pandemic when so much changed in our field. After relying heavily on late nights at the Hagerty Library to be most productive, it has been a challenge at times to focus on coursework after sitting at the same desk in my apartment all day long. Finding ways to connect with others and the arts I am so passionate about, whether through Zoom meetings with my advisor, sharing experiences over social media with my classmates, or digital programming from Philadelphia’s diverse arts and culture community, has been helpful. I will miss the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments in person at graduation in June, but know that the connections made through Drexel’s AAML program will continue long after I submit my final thesis in just a month’s time.
With the recent announcement that the budget proposal put forth by Mayor Kenney includes cutting Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy along with the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, it is increasingly clear that this public health crisis will have significant implications on our field for years to come. Seeing the passion and connection of our community makes me confident that we will rise to this challenging time. Armed with the knowledge and experiences we’ve gained at Drexel, we will continue to advocate for the importance of the arts and push our sector to continue to make an impact in new ways.