Greetings, Arts Administration & Museum Leadership Alumni, Students, and Friends,
We hope you’re staying safe and well in these challenging times. We know that, at a minimum, you and your families are adjusting to a lack of normalcy and human contact. Some of you may also be dealing with more serious concerns about financial security, employment, health and safety. We want you to know that you are in our thoughts, and we would love to hear from you. We’re also including some resources and updates below that you may find helpful.
Despite the current challenges we face, we know that our students and alumni are the dynamic leaders our field needs. Times of extreme disruption are also times of innovation. Your education, knowledge, and the networks you’ve built will help you create the future of our field. Your Drexel family is here to support you and help in any way. We look forward to keeping in touch and to staying connected with you all.
By Jade Cintron
About an hour ago, I finished my introductory six month review at my current job and I nearly sobbed. It was one of the most comprehensive and informed reviews I have ever received. Not only was my work recognized, but my supervisor was able to acknowledge and reference each detail of what I had accomplished in my time there using specific examples. The meeting ended with her asking me what I felt I needed to continue my work and how I thought we could improve our program. I held back my elated tears, but barely.
A year ago, at my previous workplace, I received a review that I had to ask for, which consisted of them asking me to tell them what I’d accomplished in my first six months there, with nothing really added from their part. They were impressed with my presentation so much so that it indicated that they had had no idea about all that I was doing. It ended with me sharing my concerns and asking for support. Instead of providing it or other suggestions, they immediately turned it on me. It was because of me that my problems were happening. I should have called it quits long before this, but this day took the cake.
They hated me. Completely and fully. They did everything they could from literally my second week on to discredit and ignore me. My day to day was a hostile, uncomfortable environment that surrounded me with a cloud of doubt. I couldn’t believe that their passive aggressive comments, side eye and eventual comments about my clothes or even abrupt silence when i walked into my own office was really about me. I mean, we had some days we’d laugh at something together. Perhaps they were just in a mood that day that I felt the cold shoulder. Yes, that’s it…they all were in a mood. Maybe they were just getting used to having a new person around. That takes time, right?
Then I started getting ignored at meetings. I’d say something and everyone would stare blankly for a solid 10 seconds and then continue what they were saying before with no acknowledgement to what I said. Or I’d see them, including those I supervised roll their eyes at me and make eye contact with others to share a moment. I received several backhanded comments about my Masters, something I rarely spoke about and many “that’s not how we do it here”. To add insult to injury, those above me failed to promote my work contributions to the rest of the staff or truly support me. The most recognition I’d get was that I was new, spoke Spanish and loved the community. Despite my best efforts to show them my worth, it was pointless. They didn’t want to see it.
These and other micro-aggressions bogged me down and made me unsure of myself. I’d become invisible. Even the obstacles I’d hurdled with precision were ignored. Had I been a fool all along? Were my ten years of experience a sham? Were my suggestions stupid? How did I get this stupid?
Wait a second.
Whether unconscious or conscious bias, something was happening here, and while I was obviously not perfect, I’d certainly earned my role as one of the Directors.
I stayed for a year and then left. I felt like a shell of who I used to be. How could this have happened to me? An experienced, smart, motivated woman who came in, engines roaring, a woman who had spent her entire life fighting bullies, injustices and the like.
Why this story?
It can happen to anyone, but particularly to Women of Color in positions of power. Even someone like me, constantly championing for equal rights, for more of a voice, for standing up for what you believe in even if you’re standing alone, can be susceptible. No one in that organization wanted someone like me to come in, despite how they advertised this supposedly community driven work, despite how open minded and liberal they claimed to be.
My words of advice: if any of this resonated with you or someone you know, reach out for help. No job is worth it. No amount of money is worth it. At the end of the day you have to answer to yourself. No job is worth feeling a piece of yourself die.
Tomorrow I’m waking up at the crack of dawn for a job that’s not perfect, but I’m appreciated and constantly feel inspired. Can you say the same?
By Ginene Mahoney, MAUS
Assistant Director of Marketing Services
Drexel University Office of Institutional Advancement
My name is Ginene Mahoney, and I am a former student in the Arts Administration and Museum Leadership Program. I started the program in 2016 as a part-time student and a full-time Drexel employee: Administrative Assistant in the Office of Institutional Advancement. Before coming to Drexel, I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a BA in Fine Arts (Painting) and a minor in Italian. I worked at a paint-your-own pottery studio, taught after school art classes in the City of Camden, NJ, got a Master’s degree in Community Arts from Eastern University, and worked as an Adoption Specialist in the Philadelphia foster care system. No matter what my job or place in life, I have always had a passion for using art to create change.
In Neville Vakharia's core class of Creative Enterprise and Innovation, I was able to express this passion through our final group project. Our groups were tasked with creating an enterprise, program, or service utilizing the arts, and ours chose to develop a nonprofit that created art installations for the visually impaired. Although this was a theoretical enterprise, we were taught to view it as if it were or could become a reality – a very Drexel concept. This was such an exciting endeavor that I chose to take Arts Entrepreneurship (also with Neville) as my elective course. In this class, each student created their own arts enterprise and focused on identifying customer segments and tailoring our business models to meet their needs. Through all the work and research I have done, I’ve come to know the arts can make a difference in people and their lives, which led me to develop the Creation Cart.
I designed the Creation Cart – a mobile arts and crafts instruction table – to be a part of free produce markets within the nonprofit Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization. These produce markets, called Fresh For All, take place weekly across the City of Philadelphia. People in need line up sometimes hours in advance, to get free portions of fresh fruits and vegetables from Philabundance. With the idea that learning an artistic skill and creating a piece of art can have a lasting impact on those in need, the Creation Cart would not only give community members something to do while waiting but also build their resilience. Since my husband works at Philabundance, my plan after creating my business pitch for class, was to pitch the Creation Cart to Philabundance and work together to make this a part of their Fresh For All program.
The next step was for me to see a Fresh For All first hand to get a better feel for the customers in person and to see the logistics of the market. So, I worked a volunteer shift at the nearest Fresh For All – South Philadelphia. It was great being able to interface with community members and see their food needs being met. What I did not expect, however, was the fact that nearly all of the customers at this Fresh For All were immigrants who did not speak English. How could I teach an art technique and lead a meaningful conversation with people I could not communicate with verbally? At the time I was also 6 months pregnant, so with a roadblock in front of the Creation Cart and an upcoming shift in my life focus, my goals for making the Cart a reality fell to the wayside.
However, about a year later, a classmate of mine from Neville’s class, Alanna Garavaglia, was bringing an enterprise of her own to life – a farmers market in her community of Morris Plains, that also brought in a youth music group and other arts opportunities. She reached out and asked if I would be interested in bringing the Creation Cart to the farmers market and provide customers with the opportunity to Create. It was a long drive, but I could not resist the opportunity to see the Creation Cart in action. I set up the Creation Cart as an art station instead of walking it around as I would at Fresh For All, and I was able to interact with a handful of kids interested in making food-related art.
While the venue was different from what I had envisioned for the Creation Cart, bringing my idea to life at all helped reignite my passion for teaching art and sharing with others the benefits of creation. It also helped me consider solutions to the issues facing the Creation Cart and gave me confidence in the fact that I’d already done it.
Around the same time as the Creation Cart’s debut in Morris Plains, I organized a volunteer opportunity for my department at Drexel to distribute produce at Philabundance’s Dobbins High School Fresh For All, in North Philadelphia. Just like the South Philadelphia Fresh For All, people were lined up at Dobbins hours in advance of the actual market. Unlike South Philly, Dobbins has a primarily English-speaking audience. Mr. Charles, the high school’s community liaison, was honored a few weeks earlier on Good Morning America for his community work and volunteerism with Philabundance. He also has deep relationships with the community members and a passion for bringing exciting opportunities to the people he serves. He talked to our team about the big community events he hosts at the high school for Thanksgiving and other parts of the year, and he appeared to be very open to bringing new ideas to his audience.
Now that 2020 is under way, I am excited to revisit the Creation Cart in two venues. I've been asked to bring the Creation Cart back to the Morris Plains farmers market this summer, and I plan to approach Mr. Charles to try it at Dobbins High School as well. Since I now have all the supplies for the Cart, it will be easier to show Mr. Charles that I am ready with my idea. With a spouse who works at Philabundance I can figure out whom to contact at the organization to make them aware of my arts enterprise and discuss the possibility of doing it at other sites, should it be successful at Dobbins. I am hopeful that with more opportunities to exhibit the Creation Cart, I will think of new and better ways to meet my original audience's needs - even those that speak another language!
Thanks to the Arts Administration and Museum Leadership program, Neville’s teaching and encouragement, the connections made with my classmate, Alanna, and the entrepreneurial spirit instilled in us as Dragons, I was able to make an idea something real and concrete, and I can continue to build and grow my dream.
By Abigayle Renk
Attending Museums Advocacy Day was an unforgettable experience in my studies. I met numerous museum professionals and advocates from the American Alliance of Museums, all joined by the singular goal of encouraging support for our nation’s educational and cultural institutions. I listened to presentations on advocacy approaches, networked with other students, and learned first-hand what museum advocacy involves. Laura-Edythe Coleman prepared our group for meetings with Congress members and we concluded with positive impacts. I will never forget what it was like to represent Drexel University and Pennsylvania museums at the United States Capitol.
This time of year is always very exciting for the Arts Administration & Museum Leadership program. Our current students are now well into their graduate studies while advancing their careers in a wide range of cultural organizations and museums. We recently sent a group of students to Washington, DC for Museums Advocacy Day, where they visited the Capitol and met with our elected officials to make the case for supporting our nation's museums. Later this month, another group of our students will do the same when they participate in the National Arts Action Summit.
Meanwhile, we are actively interviewing prospective students to be part of our next talented cohort of graduate students. Applications for this fall are still open and we’re always happy to speak with anyone interested in accelerating their career path through our graduate program.
This spring, we’re hosting a variety of events to highlight our leadership role in the sector. On March 26-27, we are the host sponsor of the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, where 300 leaders in the arts, urban planning, and government will convene to share new approaches to the role of arts in community development.
On May 4th, we invite you to attend a special event on cultural equity and inclusion, featuring a keynote lecture by Roberto Bedoya, a renowned champion of equitable practices in community planning and placemaking. This will be followed by a dialog with key leaders in arts and urban planning. More details and registration information will be coming soon.
Plans are underway for another social event for all of our alumni and students. Our vast and growing alumni network is one of our greatest assets, and we want to continue to build strong connections with all of you. Be sure to keep in touch and share the exciting updates on your lives. We'll be sharing things on our public Facebook page and on our private Facebook page just for students and alums. We're also on Instagram @DrexelAAML.