2nd Year Feature: Jennifer Patten

Jennifer_PattenDescribe your final semester as an ARAD student. My final semester has been an exciting blend of work and education as I have taken on more responsibility at my new position as Director of Education and Training at the Martha Graham School while wrapping up my studies in the Arts Administration Program.

Did you have a job this semester? I served as the Director of Education and Training at the Martha Graham School. In this capacity, I serve as the head of the School and oversee all administrative and faculty personnel while reporting to the Executive Director. I am responsible for budget, program coordination, student affairs, accreditation, fundraising and development, and collaborate with other departments, such as marketing, in the promotion of the School.

Did this opportunity come about as a result of your time at ARAD?

Yes,  I attended the 70th anniversary performance of Graham’s Appalachian Spring at their Westbeth studio theater, and while at the reception, I fell into conversation with the Director of Individual Giving. Upon learning about my background in education and the arts, and hearing that I sought an internship for the Spring 2015 semester, he referred me to the Senior Associate of Education. Under her supervision, I completed a 16-week internship dedicated to revising the Graham School’s educational outreach curricula. The School simultaneously underwent a strategic planning overhaul that included the creation of a new head of school position: Director of Education and Training. Upon the completion of my internship, I was offered the position and happily accepted.

Did you work on any major projects this semester? This was a very exciting semester at the Martha Graham Center as we celebrated its 90th anniversary season at New York City Center. I had the opportunity to collaborate on the development of a New York City-wide initiative to deliver tickets free of charge to over 600 public schoolchildren and coordinate a pre-show Teen Experience where they met the dancers and learned choreography from each night’s performance. Being a part of the Graham legacy, while grounding my experience in the Arts Administration program, was thrilling.

What do you find most exciting to you about your transition from the ARAD program onto your next steps? It has been a fluid process and my work at Graham has been intimately connected to my arts administration studies and research. The Graham School served as a case study for several of my courses, and this allowed me to better understand my role at the School while at the same time deepening my arts administration knowledge. I am excited to move forward with a career that is so intimately steeped in my M.A. experience and feels like an organic outgrowth of my work in the program.

If you could choose one word to sum up your ARAD experience – what would it be? Why? Transformative. I entered the program with fixed ideas and a concrete vision of what I wanted to achieve. I intended to lead educational outreach initiatives at an arts organization and promote arts integration practice and pedagogy. During my time in the program, however, my understanding of arts administration broadened significantly as I learned the ins and outs of how particularly non-profits operate. To be a strong arts administrator, facility in all areas of leadership and management are essential, and I came to discover that my conception was highly limited. By expanding my views and embracing the multifaceted nature of arts administration, I found myself in a role that includes my original vision, but is much wider in scope with an even more meaningful impact.

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