Here at Drexel, each fall season brings exciting opportunities and changes. We welcomed a new cohort of bright and talented Arts Administration & Museum Leadership graduate students from around the country and the world, and they continue to impress us with their insights and abilities. We're also preparing to celebrate the upcoming graduation of many of last year's cohort, who will be completing their degrees at the end of the year. We have watched them grow and develop into influential leaders who are armed with the knowledge and skills our field needs to thrive and prosper.
It's also a time for reflection, change, and growth in our faculty team. As many of you know, we recently mourned the loss of our beloved professor and colleague, Dr. Danielle Rice. Her spirit lives on in the students she taught and the impact her work continues to have on the museum field. At the end of December, Dr. Jean Brody, founder and director of our online program in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership, will retire after an impressive career as a leader and pioneer in online learning. With Dr. Brody's upcoming retirement, we welcomed Dr. Laura-Edythe Coleman to serve as the new director for our online program. Laura-Edythe brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to our program as a seasoned instructor, author, and researcher (learn more about her in the article below). Finally, this January we will welcome another new full-time faculty member, Pamela Yau. Pamela has served as an adjunct faculty in our program for several years and is highly valued by our students, who often seek out her courses and her advice. We're thrilled to have her join our team as she begins teaching our courses both on-campus and online.
These changes will continue to keep our program at the forefront of the field, providing our students with the knowledge and networks they need to lead an evolving and rapidly-changing field.
We're excited for the academic year ahead and look forward to staying connected with all of you.
My name is Jackie DiFerdinando, and I will be the Artsline editor for the next three issues. This quarter has flown by so fast, and it is crazy to think that the winter break is almost upon us!
A little background about me: I was born and raised just outside Philadelphia in Cheltenham, PA, and have grown up in the thriving Philadelphia arts scene. My mother is a huge theatre buff and performed in local community productions before I was born so my parents introduced my brother and me to live theatre starting at a very young age. I have been a regular Philadelphia and New York theatre patron since the age of three.
I stayed local for college and graduated from Temple University in 2014 with a major in Theatre (acting concentration) and a minor in Business. My plan had always been to immediately attend graduate school for Arts Administration after receiving my B.S. However, since I ended up doing more acting during my undergraduate program than expected, I did not pursue a graduate degree right away.
Since graduating from Temple University, I have performed in numerous theatrical productions and film projects but also had apprenticeships/internships at the Bucks County Playhouse and Theatre Horizon. I even stage managed at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey. I have been a principal cast member at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire for the past five years where I put my stage combat skills to good use. On top of all this, I have worked 2-5 days a week for the past six years as a Standardized Patient at the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.
Now I am finally returning to my original plan which has thankfully brought me to the wonderful program and people in the Arts Administration program here at Drexel University. Ultimately, I want to be gainfully employed in the administration of a theatre company and believe Drexel University is the best place to get the knowledge and skills for that path. I am so excited to be starting this new chapter of my life at Drexel University. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store.
ArtsLine editor 2019-2020
Interview with Dr. Laura-Edythe Coleman, Program Director, Arts Administration & Museum Leadership Program, Online
By Jackie DiFerdinando
Jackie: What got you interested in this field?
Dr. Laura Edythe Coleman: A cold 2005 winter day trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum with my mother lead me to this moment today. Perusing the collection of medals by the American Numismatics Society, my mother froze in front of a glass cabinet of bronze medal coins. Crying, she stood moved beyond words by the 1937 Medal, a coin upon which an artist had carved on the front a respectful funeral scene and the words "In Peace, Sons Bury their Fathers." The opposite side of the medal displayed a horrific battlefield, and inscribed the words, "In War, Fathers Bury Their Sons." It was at this moment that I knew the power of museums to promote healing and reconciliation and became determined to save the world: one object, one exhibit, one museum, one community, and one nation at a time. My particular area of research examines cultural heritage institutions in communities reconciling civil conflict. I seek to understand the role of information in the creation of individual and collective identities. In specific, my current research studies the exchange of information in the national museums of Northern Ireland and the United States.
J: Where did you go to school?
LEC: I graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts. My major was Music Performance, and my instrument was the flute. For my graduate degrees, I attended Florida State University. I earned a Masters in Library & Information Science, a Graduate Certificate in Information Architecture, and a Ph.D. in Information Science with a focus on Museum Informatics.
J: Where did you work previously?
LEC: I have held posts as an online lecturer for the Graduate Museum Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University and as adjunct faculty for the School of Information at Florida State University. Before I entered higher education, I was a public school teacher with certifications in Music Education K-12 and Computer Science Middle Grades.
J: What brought you to Drexel?
LEC: I am an ambitious person - so the motto "Ambition can't wait," really resonated with me. I see my career at Drexel as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the field of museum studies education in America. I could have taken a "safer" job as a professor in Library Science. But I felt that if we are to make a difference in American museums, I need to take the risk of working outside of the comfort zone of libraries.
J: What is your take on the controversy surrounding the definition of the museum?
LEC: Wow. So. I was fortunate to be on the frontlines of this controversy. First, I submitted my definition to the International Council of Museums (ICOM) during the open call for definitions last year. Then, I flew to Kyoto, Japan, to attend the triennial ICOM conference and the Extraordinary General Assembly on the definition of the word "museum." I found the debates in Kyoto to be passionate and unsupported. Many of my museum colleagues felt strongly about the new definition yet had not done their due diligence to research the underpinnings of the definition language. The new definition offered by ICOM is not perfect - but it is a step in the right direction. My impression is that the museums and countries that disagreed with the new definition did so because it did not reflect their "values." It is important to note that many of the loudest voices in the conversation were also representatives of the most colonial of collections. I am not entirely sure that their reasons for objecting to the new definition wording were aligned with the greater good of museums worldwide. In summary, I was disappointed that the vote to change the definition was postponed indefinitely. And from my own perspective, we failed as professionals to deliver leadership to our museums and nations.
By Sarah Christy
On Saturday, October 26, Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia hosted the 2019 Creative Conversation at Drexel’s URBN Center and Annex. This was our second year partnering with Drexel’s Arts Administration and Museum Leadership program to host this annual symposium, which is held in conjunction with the Emerging Leaders Network of Americans for the Arts across the country each October as part of National Arts & Humanities Month. The theme What’s Next in the Arts? seeks to facilitate conversation, education, and networking among arts leaders about the future of the sector in our region. This year’s event featured a keynote address by Stanford Thompson, a musician and educator who is the Founder and Executive Director of Play on Philly. Stanford shared his vision of music education as a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. After a networking lunch, participants were able to engage in breakout sessions on topics including art economic empowerment, using technology to break barriers, and combatting burnout. It was an inspiring day connecting with fellow arts enthusiasts and learning from leaders in the field.
I have served on the Executive Board of Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia for the past two years and am currently the Treasurer and Chair of the Programming Committee. As a current graduate student in the AAML program, it has been a great opportunity to apply my academic work to my board service. Not only has it allowed me to put into immediate practice what I am learning, but participating in EAL:P has also enabled me to expand my network in Philadelphia, have insider experiences at arts organizations around the city, and meet leaders shaping the direction of our cultural community. EAL:P membership is free and a range of networking, advocacy, and professional development events are held throughout the year. It has been a truly rewarding experience and one I would highly recommend to any student looking to get more involved and gain experience as a future arts leader.
By Jean Murphy
Drexel University’s Department of Performing Arts is honored to house two recipients of Pew Foundation grants. Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and The Curtis Institute of Music have been awarded the first-ever project grants from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for an inter-institutional collaboration, and adjunct professor in the Drexel Dance program Dinita Clark has been awarded a 2019 Pew Fellowship.
LISTEN! Philadelphia Grant
The Department of Performing Arts has been awarded a $400,000 grant, the largest in Pew History, and the Curtis Institute of Music has been awarded $300,000, totaling $700,000 to fund LISTEN! Philadelphia. This project is a large-scale musical experience spanning several months and bringing together more than 120 local musicians of varied genre under the direction of internationally acclaimed composer and conductor Peter Wiegold. For both Drexel and Curtis, the arts can be a catalyst for social cohesion and change. LISTEN! Philadelphia lives at the intersection of musical excellence and civic engagement as this project aims to dynamically engage Philadelphia’s varied communities in the exercise of active listening.
Wiegold will serve as an artist in residence for six months from January to June 2021, during which time he will work with local musicians to develop a new way of creating music together, using a combination of non-traditional instrumentation, non-traditional orchestral scoring, and musical improvisation. The project will include six smaller-scale Club Night performances held in venues throughout the city in April and May 2021 and will culminate in three large-scale public performances of a grand Roaratorio to be held in the Chapel at Girard College in May 2021. To learn more about LISTEN! Philadelphia read the full release here.
Dinita Clark Pew Fellowship
Drexel Dance faculty member Dinita Clark has been awarded a 2019 Pew Fellowship. She teaches hip-hop classes and at Drexel Dance’s Healing Art Summer Intensive as well as choreographing for the Youth Performance Exchange Touring Ensemble and the Drexel Dance Ensemble.
Outside of her role with Drexel Dance, “Queen Dinita” Clark is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher whose work engages the vocabularies of street dance and hip-hop culture, creating dynamic performances that display polyrhythmic upper body and footwork patterns. Clark’s work is interested in challenging preconceived notions of hip-hop culture and creating opportunities for women within the dance form. Her teaching practice addresses the scarcity of training for women in the foundations of hip-hop dance and provides accessible dance education to, as she explains, “unlock self-discovery, self-worth, and integrity for female dancers.”
She is the co-founder and co-choreographer of Just Sole! Street Dance Theater Company with her partner, Kyle Clark. She also is the cofounder of Funky Sole Fundamentals, a dance workshop series dedicated to the preservation of hip-hop, house, and funk dance styles. To learn more about Dinita’s work, read the full release here.
The Department of Performing Arts is so proud to present LISTEN! Philadelphia and to have Dinita Clark on staff. To keep up to date with everything going on in the Department of Performing Arts follow them on social media and subscribe to their newsletter.