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.
By Jackie DiFerdinando
Welcome to the Winter/Spring 2020 edition of Artsline!
Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing New York City Center’s Encores production of Mack and Mabel. Mack and Mabel, a 1974 Broadway flop by the late Jerry Herman of Hello Dolly fame, follows the dramatic, romantic entanglement between silent movie pioneer Mack Sennett, played by Douglas Sills, and his first great discovery and muse, the comedienne Mabel Normand, played by Alexandra Socha. The production was brilliant! Given the very brief rehearsal period, I was blown away by the performances, staging, choreography, and full orchestra.
For those of you who don’t know, New York City Center’s Encores series celebrates the tradition of American musical theater with revivals featuring original orchestrations as they were meant to be heard. With only a brief rehearsal period, these classics are presented for one week only. Typically, the productions they choose to mount are considered “hidden gems” of American musical theatre, having only briefly been on Broadway or Off-Broadway and have rarely, if ever, been produced since. For a musical theatre lover like myself, seeing these forgotten shows is a wonderful opportunity.
The Encores series actually inspired my brother and I to start our own theatre company in Philadelphia that also aims to produce little-known “hidden gems” of musical theatre. De Novo Theatre Company had its inaugural season in 2019 where we presented Olympus On My Mind (a 1986 Off-Broadway show) and ended with the hilarious and wildly-successful Disenchanted! (a 2014 Off-Broadway show). So many current offerings in mainstream theatre are based on pop culture (movies, TV shows, music albums) or revivals of classic, well-known shows, with little variety or originality that De Novo Theatre Company aims to reverse this trend by bringing new life to little-known plays and musicals through concerts and productions with limited staging using local talent. With a spotlight on these “hidden gems” the De Novo Theatre Company welcomes audiences to open their minds and be educated and entertained.
I am fortunate to be attending Drexel University during the early stages of starting this theatre company. As De Novo's acting Business Manager, my classes at Drexel University’s Arts Administration & Museum Leadership Program have helped me to learn all the ins and outs of running a successful nonprofit theatre company. Each class has offered insight to new topics I must consider when starting a theatre company. For the various class projects, I have used De Novo Theatre Company as my model organization so my project research and outcomes can be directly applied to De Novo Theatre Company.
I am so happy and grateful to be here at Drexel University. For my remaining three quarters, I look forward to learning more theoretical knowledge and practical skills to apply to any real life job situations I may encounter going forward.
ArtsLine editor 2019-2020
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.