Experiential Education for the Future of Arts Leadership

Posted by Emma Osore, Sep 14, 2018 0 comments

This post is part of our “Broadening and Diversifying the Leadership Pipeline” blog salon for National Arts in Education Week 2018.

Often, the pathways to job positions at the highest levels in the arts field are not very clear. The Diversity in Arts Leadership internship (DIAL) helps ensure undergraduates interested in leadership at arts organizations gain the skills, networks, and experience needed to assume leadership roles in the arts. Each intern in the Americans for the Arts’ DIAL Internship has displayed a combination of passion for the arts, some experience leading meaningful projects, and self-identifies as being from a background traditionally untapped for arts leadership. The DIAL internship then provides the platform for competitively selected undergraduates to explore nonprofit careers in the arts, taking the arts practices they love and combining them with meaningful experiences in business and leadership.

While most internships can be considered experiential, the DIAL internship is a ten-week experience. Each summer, 11 to 15 interns come from all over the country to New York City for 10 weeks to immerse themselves in the business of arts nonprofits in NYC. The DIAL Internship uses an intensive learning model to broaden the network, close opportunity gaps, and level up leadership skills of diverse undergraduates and future leaders. The paid summer experience includes over 25 events, access to more than 75 professionals, and contributes nearly 5,000 hours of talent to the local arts ecosystem through:

  • Full-time work placement at a New York City arts nonprofit
  • Weekly group site visits to all intern arts host sites
  • Monthly professional development workshops and cultural outings
  • A private sector mentor
  • Access to the DIAL alumni network
  • Cohort model of learning (cohort evolution as important as individual transformation)

While the reasons one earns and retains a job in the arts are varied, having a career in the arts often comes down to having a strong network and the right opportunities to showcase your capabilities. For 26 years, DIAL has been an investment building a more networked, resource-rich, and equitable arts management field. The program has placed 256 students from across the country into over 116 arts nonprofit organizations in NYC to develop leadership in the business of the arts. As a result, nearly 50% have careers in the arts and one in three are managers or more senior in their chosen careers. Between 2016 and 2018, 100% of graduated seniors secured their first jobs within four months of finishing DIAL—and all were in the arts.

Arts educators and arts education professionals can ensure all students, especially those who are traditionally marginalized, become leaders in the arts by turning exploratory classrooms or programs into well-rounded experiences. By leveraging the devices of business mentoring, professional development, cultural outings, site visits, access to alumni networks, or paid work experience on substantive projects at arts nonprofit organizations, we can expand the possibilities for the future of arts leadership.

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