The FAQs of an Emerging Arts Leader

Posted by Americans for the Arts, Mar 19, 2010 3 comments

by Anna Sebourn

As a second year graduate student in Arts Management getting ready to move from academia to a career, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the difficulty of the transition. Sure, I’ve taken a graduate level Arts Marketing class and had a marketing internship . . .but what kind of marketing jobs should I apply for? Am I considered entry-level or mid-level? And sure, I know how to market an arts event fairly well, but how well can I market MYSELF to employers?

I know I’m not alone in this. Several of my friends and I have been discussing this very topic at length anytime we peruse job listings or talk about our plans after graduation. We’re just not sure which jobs we’re qualified for and how to stand out among the sea of other applicants.

On the other hand, I have numerous friends on the opposite side of the spectrum. They have several years of work experience under their belt, but trying to transfer into the arts field from the ‘outside’ is tough. Some have already broken into the field, but have questions about advancing and sustaining their careers and staying current on best practices.

With all of these questions in the back of our minds, my colleagues at American University and I have been in the process of planning the third annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, hosted by the American University’s Arts Management Program. Deciding on topics for the 2010 Symposium panels became an easy task because we formed them around our own questions. We all found that beginning and/or sustaining a career in the arts was a worry for all of us, and agreed that we were in desperate need of some expert advice.

We also have been discussing the changing (or sometimes non-existent) business models used in arts organizations. Is there something we can learn from for-profit businesses? Which organizations have successful models, and would these models work for every organization? For this panel, we’re excited to delve into the issues of strategic planning, governance, and of course the big one. . .FUNDING. We could all use a little more of that, right?

And as always, we want to stay up to date on cultural policy. Now, more than ever, we’ve got to learn how to advocate for the arts and look at the interactions between the arts, government, and society. Personally, I’m always interested in learning about new legislation and how it affects arts education and individual artists. We’ve put together a team of cultural policy gurus that will be able to enlighten us on what’s going on right now in our field and what we can do to be a part of the decision-making (attending Arts Advocacy Day is a great first step).

Are you an Emerging Arts Leader with these same questions? I’d like to invite you to get these questions (and more) answered at the 2010 Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium on April 11th. I’m looking forward to hearing from our expert panelists (who I’ll keep you in suspense about for the time being) and a keynote address by Ben Cameron from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Theatre Communications Group.

It’ll be a great day of networking and learning with other Emerging Arts Leaders from around the country. You can register HERE.

Also, we’ll be having a pre-symposium networking social on Friday, March 19th from 6-9 p.m. at Tortilla Coast here in DC. It should be a lot of fun with appetizers, drink specials, and prizes.  RSVP on Facebook and get a discount!

I’m looking forward to being ‘enlightened’ by our panelists at the Symposium, and hopefully rubbing elbows with other Emerging Arts Leaders!

See you there!

3 responses for The FAQs of an Emerging Arts Leader


David says
March 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Wow, the symposium looks great! I wish I could be there in April. It looks like it will really bridge a gap between the questions we have and the answers we need.

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March 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm

This is looking so great, Anna! I am getting excited!

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March 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Thanks! Keep checking back, as we're going to announce the panelists soon.

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