SAA Members Go To Washington

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD Student, Arts & Humanities Writer


On March 24th and 25th this semester five Arts Administration representatives from the Students for Arts Advocacy (SAA) group traveled together to Washington D.C. to attend the annual conference on arts rights and regulations. Hosted by Americans for the Arts, the conference known as National Arts Advocacy Day included two days of workshops and seminars on an array of topics from arts education policy to nonprofit tax benefits and charitable grant funding.

“I attended the 2014 Arts Advocacy Day as an observer and without pre-conceived expectations,” says Nana Lee, SAA member and first year MA student in the ARAD program. “The experience was eye-opening regarding advocacy preparation, training sessions and on-site advocacy improvisation.”

The conference provided an opportunity for students and current arts administrators to meet with politicians and learn the tools used by advocacy groups today. Not all of the speakers turned on their charm.

“The atmosphere of the advocates was as expected – active and sincere, but I was not satisfied with the politicians,” explains Xiaobei Jia, also an SAA member and first year ARAD student. “The advocates were friendly and devoted in the conference, but sometimes I felt they were more interested in promoting their own organizations, not advocating for the arts in a broader sense.”

On the first day of the conference, the SAA members attended a training called the Congressional Visit Role Demonstration during which the conference participants were asked to assume the role of politicians to simulate the conversations on Capitol Hill that they would facilitate with actual congressmen the following day. The following day, however, their role playing proved more substantive than the reality.

“Our team had been assigned seven congressmen,” recounts Xiaobei “only one congressman would meet us in person. . . He seemed in a hurry, so every time we spoke he showed impatience and stopped us several times. He was more interested in letting us know his achievements in advocating for the arts in New York, rather than listening to our opinions.”

The conference included a series of sessions at which key Capitol Hill staff members and high profile advocates complemented the statistical data presented with their anecdotal discussions.

“I would say the highlight was the evening at the Kennedy Center,” recalls Xiaobei. “The talks delivered by Maureen Dowd and Alec Baldwin were so interesting and witty, totally different from the daylong training.

“The most memorable session was the Legislative and Political Update,” reminisces Nana,” in which a staff member of Louise Slaughter gave an attitudinal profile and voting history analysis of the members on the hill and among the administration. The session provided behind-the-scenes information that gave the most up-to-date information.”

Since the conference was cosponsored by over 85 arts organizations from around the country, the students met with advocates from all corners of the United State which gave them a fuller perspective on the current state of arts funding and resources available.

“I feel the current state of the arts in the US now is developing on a healthy track,” says Xiaobei. “There are problems, for example, insufficient funding, not implementing art as part of the Common Core, tax issues with the artists and difficulties in cultural exchange. But I could see people are trying to solve the problems: the advocates coming from almost every state in the US, organized by Americans for the Arts, united to make their voices heard.”

“My impression is that funding for the art is deeply associated with budget appropriation and authorization,” describes Nana, “which is beyond the mere attitudinal question of being ‘supportive’ or not. It is a mixture of rather complicated political concerns, especially when the impact of any law or bill will effect more than just the arts.”

The National Arts Advocacy Day conference has given the participants fresh ideas for the future of their own SAA group, and also on how the conference itself could better serve the needs of advocates nationally.

“Very little information was provided in the conference on the methodology of how the annual asks for the Advocacy Day were formulated,” muses Nana. “As art administrators, and in the hope of becoming more effective advocates, it is important to know the mechanism behind how the asks were compiled each year. What SAA can do on a regular basis is to provide a transparent conversation channel with the Americans for the Arts before the actual Advocacy Day to provide a more comprehensive picture of the advocacy currently at work.”

“I hope our SAA group will actively reach out to make connections with other student organizations, collaborate with school departments, and even city, state, and federal-level organizations related to the arts,”says Xiaboei. “The different subcommittees of the SAA are working on this to promote our group, and try to make our voice heard.

“It was definitely a precious journey,” concludes Nana about the conference, “that gave first-hand experience on how regular, long-term dialogue and monitoring mechanisms are enabled by advocacy groups.”

“I also hope the SAA group is actively involved in the Arts Advocacy Day every year,” adds Xiaobei,” that would be a precious experience for future arts administrators.”


By Alyssa Foster

Arts & Humanities Writer

New Faculty: Jennifer Lena

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD Student, Arts & Humanities Writer


Dr. Jennifer Lena: Scholarly Muse

At the start of the Fall semester, Teachers College proudly welcomed Dr. Jennifer Lena as Associate Professor of Arts Administration. After receiving both her Masters and Ph.D. of Sociology at Columbia University, Dr. Lena ventured beyond New York for myriad academic pursuits around the country. Currently an active researcher and participant in many remarkable arts projects, Dr. Lena says she was beckoned back to Teachers College by “the prestige and wide spectrum of learning opportunities that an Ivy League school located in a world-renowned city offers.” Impressed by the wealth of knowledge and the boundless possibilities she encountered herself as a sociology student, Dr. Lena is enthusiastic that returning as a professor will allow her to positively influence the next generation of arts leaders.

The arts have always been intertwined with Dr. Lena’s academic interests since childhood. Growing up she was influenced by her uncle Benny Andrews, one of the African American artists and leaders in the Black Arts Cultural Coalition, and his efforts towards the inclusion of black curators in shows at the MET and the Whitney. Further influenced by the work of her sociologist father, Dr. Lena quickly became interested in studying the privileges that racial status can either provide or withhold. The inspiration for her research was later shaped by the mentorship of scholars she worked with as a graduate student, such as Peter Bearman and Harrison White.

As recent as 2010, Dr. Lena worked in collaboration with College of Charleston Professor Jonathan Neufeld to become the first sociologist to have commissioned a Grammy-nominated album. A collection of ensemble pieces by composer Gabriela Lena Frank, the album titled “Hilos” was the product of a $50,000 research grant made available to Vanderbilt faculty. At the time Dr. Lena applied for the grant, her co-commissioner, philosopher of aesthetics Professor Neufeld, had been reviewing the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the ALIAS Chamber Orchestra. ALIAS, an admirable chamber group of volunteer musicians donating their revenue to charities, was currently working with Frank to prepare music that would later be part of “Hilos.” Receipt of the grant provided Dr. Lena and Professor Neufeld the opportunity to finance Frank’s CD, as well as to benefit the charitable work of ALIAS. The Schubert Club soon decided to co-sponsor the album and Naxos Records was then involved to handle the formal recording process. Dr. Lena’s role in the MAC project is a quintessential example of how financial and academic support can benefit the artistic ventures of others.

While an arts patron, active researcher, academic advisor, and sociologist, Dr. Lena is also a prolific author. Her new book, Banding Together, was published in 2012 and examines in-depth how musical styles gain popularity along with the creative collaboration which permits it. As stated on her book jacket, Dr. Lena finds commonalities amongst 60 styles of American popular music to provide “a rare analysis of how music communities operate.” While conducting her research, primary and secondary sources were referenced to investigate the international music scenes of China, Nigeria, Serbia and Chile, in order to juxtapose their genres with those of the United States. Ultimately, Dr. Lena investigates the concept of what constitutes a genre from a sociological lens, positing that her definition is applicable not just to music but to the most inclusive spectrum of arts: from social movements to academia.

Dr. Lena is devoted to enriching the learning process through her dedication to her students and to her continuous socio-artistic research. Her passion is already felt and cherished as an invaluable presence within the Arts Administration department.


ARAD Extraordinaire: Juliana Driever

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD student, A&H Staff Writer


Adjunct faculty member for The City University of New York, writer, curator, and alumna of Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, Juliana Driever has joined the staff of TC this semester as the new Internship Coordinator for the Arts Administration (ARAD) program. Most departments at TC require their students to gain experience by teaching in schools throughout the city. In comparison, ARAD students are required to spend at least one semester working within an arts organization of their choosing. Whether pursuing a development position with a philharmonic society or a marketing job at a museum, Juliana’s role is to guide the ARAD students in finding educational internships that will mutually benefit both their needs and those of the organization. Juliana’s rich experience working in commercial and nonprofit art sectors since graduating from Columbia make her an ideal counsellor for aspiring arts administrators. Especially as she continues to curate exhibitions to extend her research and passion.

Last Fall Juliana curated the “About, With & For” exhibition at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). The exhibition held in the Mills Gallery was a highly inclusive event for the artists and visitors, and focused on the theme of social engagement by featuring participatory art: art with a practical, sometimes utilitarian purpose. Much more than a standard gallery viewing, the exhibition was accompanied by a series of performances that included the contributions of musicians, visual artists, puppeteers, builders and fixers.

This Mills Gallery exhibition tried Howard Becker’s theories on separating art from craft, while inciting a reversal of Boston’s cultural progression as outlined by Paul DiMaggio. But these tenets of arts administration were indirectly challenged to the betterment of Boston’s once highly elite Brahmin society. Juliana emphasizes that she looks beyond binaries such as the insider/outsider, or high/low-brow art, to design exhibitions that are expansive. “It’s true,” she states, “that some of the works in the exhibition might not fit the traditional ways of thinking about high-toned ‘art,’ though common everyday objects and imagery have been making their way into canonical, western art history for decades.” While not intended to challenge the community’s ideas about what should or even does constitute art, undertones alluding to the current elasticity of how art is defined echo throughout the gallery.

When asked about her creative inspiration over the two years of preparation for the BCA’s “About, With & For”, Juliana mentions that “the process of designing the programming grew out of the works themselves.” Complementary events held over the course of the exhibition, such as “Fixing Sessions with the Fixers Collective,” and “Singing Pictures with Clare Dolan” were scheduled as a means to more fully bring components of the collaborative displays to life. Encouraging community participation and collective interaction, the exhibition was successful in nurturing artistic engagement in ways that many organizations strive for yet fall short of accomplishing. Juliana firmly believes that “the job of artists, curators, and any cultural producer is to hold a mirror up to the public their work engages.” She was very pleased that the exhibition succeeded in being a true reflection of the Boston community.

As an arts administrator, Juliana describes herself as hopping “from project to project,” which can prevent anyone from being “really engrained in the cultures of the organizations that you work with.” Some administrators aspire to bond with and dedicate themselves to the mission of a single organization, whether a start-up that exemplifies their vision or an established multi-disciplinary behemoth. But getting a taste of multiple artistic organizations can enrich the professional perspective of all administrators.


– More information about Juliana’s “About, With & For” exhibition can be found in the archives of the BCA.

The Internship Experience in Arts Administration

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD Student, Arts & Humanities Writer


For Arts Administration (ARAD) students at Teachers College, participating in an internship of their choosing is a key component of the program. This experience goes beyond mere participation for most students as they engage in and truly enjoy their intern positions. Working in tandem with directors of development, directors of marketing, gallery curators and more, many students find that these practical settings compliment their classroom lessons.

“I entered the ARAD program with a significant amount of internship experience,” remarks Nicole Saint, a second year in the program. “For this reason I had only intended to participate in one internship, but I strayed from the plan (as usual), and I am glad. Each internship has come with a new set of experiences and contacts, and has given me a deeper understanding of the field.  I am currently on my third.”

“I personally feel professional experience is key to getting a holistic understanding of the industry,” says Pearl Kermani, also a second year in the program. “You can only learn so much in a classroom or in books. To truly learn you need to be in the thick of it. My internship experience had a very positive influence on my time in the program.”

The internship requirement was once handled by a second year student of ARAD before the position of Internship Coordinator was formally created. “I’ve been working towards ways to make the internship program run more efficiently,” says Juliana Driever, the current Internship Coordinator. Juliana keeps all ARAD students apprised of current internships via a weekly email and follows their feedback in order to create career-oriented programs in conjunction with the Office of Career Services. Juliana is also forging new relationships with arts organizations that could offer beneficial internship positions in years to come.

“I am working towards increasing the number of relationships that ARAD has with cultural institutions by reaching out individually to the administrators (in some cases, alumni) who oversee these programs,” she describes. “I want the relationships that the program develops to be much more strategic and sustainable than a simple handshake deal to promote opportunities and pass along resumes.”

“Not all internships have been created equally,” Nicole remarks on the abundance of opportunities available. “But if you position yourself in an opportunity where you are working with a supervisor who understands the educational nature of internships, in a role and institution you would like to learn more about, there is much to be gained.”

“It is my thought that the ARAD internship program should be first and foremost an academic program,” Juliana agrees. “I am working to identify internship opportunities that set a high bar in terms of the kind of hands-on learning, training and networking experiences they can provide. Those are the settings I want to see ARADers in – rigorous, academic, meaningful.”

Students in the ARAD program concentrate their studies in either the Visual or Performing Arts, but there are innumerable specializations within each of these overarching disciplines. Students currently research and interview for their own internship positions, some of which are found from Juliana’s weekly internship announcement. ARAD interns work with a wide expanse of arts organizations: from Lincoln Center to the Public Theatre. The opportunities students will have once their position has been secured can also vary greatly, depending on the capacity of each organization.

“Typically I think the smaller the organization, the more opportunities there are to insert oneself into the current projects of the department or one’s immediate supervisor,” Juliana describes. “In larger organizations, typically, I think interns take on a more focused role. One may enter a department of a large organization with, say, a staff of thirty people, all of whom function in very specific roles within that area of operation. So, the tasks may be more singular, and opportunities for trying different kinds of work may be limited.”

“Ultimately, it is all about the supervisor,” Juliana continues. “No matter what the host organization – big or small – the relationship with your supervisor makes all the difference. If you find someone who mentors you and supports your advancement as an arts administrator, that relationship can lead to projects of real substance.”

“I think that good supervisors are respectful of your time and your goals and make an effort to communicate how your work fits into the broader mission of the department and organization,” remarks Nicole. “I think that the most essential components of good internship experiences are respect and communication.”

“The most important thing for me was the support and understanding from my supervisor,” Pearl agrees. “I was very lucky with my internship and had a very supportive supervisor who would push me to try new things. She would also listen to issues I was having or questions I had about the industry and provide advice. . . During my internship, I felt like she was invested in my success, and her support is invaluable.”

This semester Juliana is creating an expanded version of the former internship agreement designed to aid students in defining, and later in measuring, the learning objectives they hope to achieve. Future semesters will include a Symposium for all interns to convene and reflect on their experiences, and a mid-semester on-site visit where Juliana will visit each intern at their host organization. She would also like students to become better educated on the proper workplace procedures and their rights during an internship by encouraging them to learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“Moving forward, I would like to see more emphasis placed on student reflection on the internship, after it’s completed,” Juliana adds. “I’d like to create a greater sense of student and host investment in that process.”

Juliana concludes: “The deeper the relationship runs, the more meaningful the outcomes will be for all involved.”


– Pearl Kermani worked and studied full time as a Productions Fellow for The Public Theatre.

– Nicole Saint has held three positions since becoming an ARAD student: as a Curatorial and Live Programs Intern for MoMA PS1, as a Marketing Intern for the Whitney Museum of American Art, and as an External Affairs Intern for the Guggenheim Museum.

Distinguished Speaker Series: ARAD Reflections

By Alyssa Foster

Current ARAD student,  Arts & Humanities Writer


The Distinguished Speaker series was piloted by Dr. Lena in the Arts Administration (ARAD) program to integrate a higher level of practical experience into the research-based curriculum. Begun as a guest speaker series for the Principles and Practices course in Fall of 2013, the first round of visiting administrators included alumnae of the program such Carolyn Charpie Fagan, current Education Programs Manager at the New Victory Theatre, and executive directors such as Helene Blieberg of Ballet Hispanico.

“I feel that the Distinguished Speaker series acts as a bridge between the theoretical knowledge acquired in class and the practical experiences we brought into the program and gain from our internships,” remarks Veronica Fischmann, Masters-candidate in the ARAD program. “I also personally like the exposure to professions I may not be personally interested in but may professionally interact with in the future.”

“The Distinguished Speaker series plays an important role in connecting our cohort with the art world in New York and in creating a network with the professionals that work in that field,” agrees Pilar Riofrio, also an ARAD Masters-candidate. “Listening to their first-hand experiences, the things that worked for them, the development of their careers, the choices they made and the challenges that they have to face nowadays are great insights and references for our future careers.”

Under the coordination of Dr. Lena and now Jess Wilkinson, the ARAD Program Manager, students nominate and invite speakers of their choosing to participate in the series. “Each student who nominated a visitor worked as an ambassador during their visit,” explains Dr. Lena. “I think the correspondence and informal conversations between guests and students has resulted in the birth of quite a few mentorship relationships.”

In addition to providing opportunities to forge mentorships, the series also provides an informal atmosphere for the students to better learn the nuances of administrative life, from organization policies to comical anecdotes. The series is intended to be mutually beneficial for the speakers – a platform that venerates their diligent efforts.

“The Distinguished Speaker series offers a context where arts experts can give a presentation to our students that delves deeply into their particular arena of influence, their daily concerns, and their career trajectories,” Dr. Lena states. “I think the daily life of most arts administrators (or policy experts) is so demanding that they rarely have the opportunity to take a step back and assess their progress, personal goals, the lessons they learned (or hope to). They’re also doing amazing work, and our series is a great moment for them to celebrate their achievements.”

The series has already hosted arts administrators from a wide breadth of arts backgrounds. Last November, Ed Woodham, Director of Art in Odd Places, presented on the challenges for presenting in unconventional public spaces. Just the month before Assistant Curator at The Kitchen, Lumi Tan, visited to discuss the path which led to her career as a curator. Each new guest lends insights that speak directly to what the students long to learn.

“I learned several things from all of them,” remarks Pilar, but I particularly remember Alaine Arnott, Senior Administrator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have always seen how people in the arts are so passionate, but she showed me how that passion turns into energy and motivation to take on big challenges. This passion, with training and leadership, are key factors for having a successful career.”

Though each speaker has an idiosyncratic insight and impact, Dr. Lena has noticed several recurring factors that ignite particular interest: “Students respond enthusiastically when we talk about the nuts and bolts of administrative work,” she reflects. “I watched in amazement as our students asked Alaine Arnott (Met) eight questions in a row about administrative re-organization and task management software! But there was an equal amount of buzz when Ed Woodham (Art in Odd Places) led us in a discussion of the role of art in defining public spaces and our rights and responsibilities in using it. I’m impressed that our students get excited about philosophical and ethical questions, but also about strategy and management.”

Though the pilot series was created as a component of the first-year curriculum, the course is now open to all students. Upcoming guests include Cynthia Round, Senior Vice President of Marketing and External Relations at the Met, and Arthur Cohen, CEO at LaPlaca Cohen.

“I value the different perspectives and the insight into different roles in the field,” Veronica remarks about the breadth of Distinguished Speakers in the queue. “It gives me a fuller understanding of the landscape of the art world . . . The Speaker series is a really great augmentation to the program’s existing curriculum.”

As part of the Academic Festival this weekend, the ARAD department is hosting a panel of program alumni who will discuss the future of Arts Administration. Moderated by second year student Pearl Kermani, the panelists will discuss current practices in their organizations and stratagem for students preparing to start their careers. The panel, titled “Envisioning the Future of Arts Administration,” will be held at 3:30 PM on Saturday, April 12th, in Grace Dodge 179. We welcome the return of our alumni speakers: Morgan Arenson (’12), Daniel Gallant (’04), Vasso Giannopoulos (’11) and Eugenia Han (’12).

Also coming up soon, the ARAD program will host speakers from the Urban Bush Women (UBW) on April 30th at 5:30 PM in Russel 305! UBW is a Brooklyn-based dance company who seeks to bring the stories of the disenfranchised to light.  We hope you’ll join us!