4 Reasons for Volunteering with Emerging Arts Leaders

Posted by Ethan Clark, Oct 21, 2014 0 comments

Ethan Clark Ethan Clark

As a fellow emerging professional in the field of arts management, we may often think of ways to emerge or advance our careers.  I believe that we can do this by learning about current issues/trends, practicing/exploring new skill sets, networking with a purpose and gathering insights from experienced professionals. I’ve found all these opportunities for career development in one place, the Emerging Arts Leaders DC (EALDC).

EALDC is a volunteer-led initiative that provides professional development, networking, and information relevant to emerging arts professionals in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. EALDC is part of the national Emerging Leaders Network, a program developed by Americans for the Arts.

Here are 4 reasons why you should consider volunteering with emerging arts leaders:

1. Network with like-minded peers.  In 2010, I was a new resident in DC and new to the field of arts management. I didn’t quite know what to expect.  But, I felt welcomed from the moment I first met EALDC members at a networking event. They took interest in my journey and we shared common experiences. Over the next few years, I was able to attend over 25 networking events that introduced me to a wide variety of arts professionals. When I needed inspiration, networking sparked my creativity and allowed me to learn from multiple perspectives. I found confidence in myself as an emerging leader and I truly appreciate the friendships that formed.

2. Learn about current issues. It was a cold and rainy Friday and I didn’t expect too many EALDC members at the First Friday Networking Lunch. I thought who would really leave their office in this weather? I was wrong. We had a full group and learned a lot from one another after a quick round of introductions and a prompt for discussion. I learned about current events, initiatives and similar challenges faced by my peers. Creative Conversation is another favorite event of mine where I learned from experienced professionals in a panel session format.

3. Develop professional skills. My exposure to EALDC taught me about numerous areas of work in and around arts-related careers.  Development, marketing, communications, programs, finance, partnerships, meetings/events, education, membership and executive leadership are just to name a few. As a current steering committee member with EALDC and past volunteer at American University’s Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, I was able to put new found skills into practice. You can develop your skills with emerging arts leaders because they provide an environment which allows you to take risks and learn from mistakes. We don’t need to be an expert at everything but we should take advantage of opportunities that help us hone our skills and explore our own career.

4. Discover volunteer opportunities. Whether you volunteer information or volunteer resources, it just feels right to support your own creative community. EALDC welcomes volunteers to assist in an official capacity at networking and professional development events. I’ve found volunteering my time and talents helped build my networking skills by providing an excuse for introductions. It also provided hands-on experience to learn what to do and sometimes what not to do in my own work.

I encourage you to find an Emerging Arts Leaders Network near you and explore the endless benefits of volunteering. I have to end on a sappy note by thanking DC emerging arts leaders for their genuine support and unyielding inspiration over the past 4 years.

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