Op-Ed Piece by Jessica Isgro

This is the first article in our series of short pieces written by current students in the Arts Administration Program.

IMG_1285Jessica Isgro wrote this Op-Ed as a student in Principles and Practices of Arts Administration, for an assignment on a critical issue of personal interest within the arts. It appears here in abbreviated form.

Jessica Isgro graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Bucknell University in 2015 where she majored in Music Education and minored in Creative Writing. Jessica has worked in the marketing, publicity, and editorial fields, holding internships with the West Branch Literary Magazine, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 21C Media Group, and The Princeton Festival. Most recently, she worked as a voice teacher and a freelance publicity writer.

From the desk of...option 2One of the most critical issues in the arts today is the need to find funding for music education programs in public schools. Budget cuts, financial crises, and perception of value have rendered some music education programs extinct, while others struggle to endure. Potential solutions to these issues lie in the realm of advocacy and assessment. Advocacy can allow a school’s community to vocalize the necessity of funding for music education programs while assessment can provide a statistical framework to bolster advocates’ claims, improving both funding for, and perceptions of, the arts. Continue reading “Op-Ed Piece by Jessica Isgro”

ARAD Works: “Dancing Inside the Institution: Examining Labor Rights Within Major Dance Companies”

(Taken from the NY Times: Constance Stamatiou, third from left, and other members of the Alvin Ailey company in “Festa Barocca.” Choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti, it is a suite set to familiar arias by Handel.)
(Taken from the NY Times: Constance Stamatiou, third from left, and other members of the Alvin Ailey company in “Festa Barocca.” Choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti, it is a suite set to familiar arias by Handel.)

Donald Borror, recent ARAD graduate and 2015 Management Fellow at Dunch Arts, LLC, ponders the following research questions about unionized dance companies’ impact on a dancer’s career in his masters thesis:

Many dancers believe that unionized dance companies will provide them with the most consistent work and contractual safeguards to support their pursuit of such a challenging artistic career. How do the administrative structures and procedures of these “dream companies” facilitate or frustrate the optimization of dancers’ creative capacities? How do Company Managers navigate the complex protocols of union contracts in relation to the needs of both performers and organizational leaders? How do dance professionals envision the evolution of labor relations within this sector?

Continue reading “ARAD Works: “Dancing Inside the Institution: Examining Labor Rights Within Major Dance Companies””

ARAD Works: “You’re Invited: How Theatre Organizations Balance Artistic Excellence, Inclusivity, And Institutional Priorities When Producing Co-Creative Programming”

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 (Image from publictheater.org)

“I am interested in theatre that engages the audience beyond the level of passive observer, creating a delightful sense of the unknown. Over the course of this analysis, I am eager to find out just how wide—and how sincere—a theatre’s “invitation” to its audience can be, and how the widening of that invitation is extended successfully with regard to the organization’s many stakeholders.”

Recent ARAD grad Hannah Fenlon’s thesis examines audience engagement in the theater world, questioning the effects these engagement practices have on communities and the organizations themselves.

Continue reading “ARAD Works: “You’re Invited: How Theatre Organizations Balance Artistic Excellence, Inclusivity, And Institutional Priorities When Producing Co-Creative Programming””

ARAD Works: “Navigating the Issue of Gender in Symphony Orchestras”

“American orchestras continue to lag behind broader social initiatives for gender diversity in the workplace. Do the processes involved in appointing musicians to orchestral positions foster success regarding the recruitment and retention of female musicians? How is the selection of musical leadership subject to the consideration of gender? What challenges and opportunities do orchestras experience if they seek to become more diverse?”

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Second-year graduating student, Tse Wei Kok, writes about how diversity is being pursued in orchestras in the United States in his thesis.
Continue reading “ARAD Works: “Navigating the Issue of Gender in Symphony Orchestras””

Fall Internship Symposium Success!

ARAD students are definitely hard-working and passionate about their interests here at TC! In addition to their coursework, students take part in at least one internship during their time in the program.

This last fall, students in registered internships participated in a Symposium with a formal presentation of the internship experience. This semester-long, 320-hour commitment is set at an organization the student would like, in the visual or performing arts, or even other areas within the non-profit and for-profit sectors.The Symposium served as a platform for students to synthesize their internship engagements into a cohesive demonstration of their individual education objectives, providing a greater understanding of how the internship program enriches classroom academics and aids in professional development. Students, faculty, staff, and previous and potential internship supervisors attended and enjoyed the wonderful presentations.

Stay tuned for information about our upcoming Spring Symposium!

ARAD Works: Student Elizabeth Metts writes on Individual Artist Grants and the National Endowment for the Arts


The State of the American Artist: Foundations Respond to the Congressional Elimination of NEA Individual Artist Fellowships

by Elizabeth Metts, Teachers College, Columbia University

“…An NEA grant holds national importance and gives artists national significance. But will the NEA ever renew its fellowship program? Can it? Should it?”

ABSTRACT: In 1995, the 104th Congress mandated that the National Endowment for the Arts eliminate its individual artist fellowship program. With the congressional mandate came the question of who would support individual artists if not the NEA, and whether this new support would be more beneficial than the NEA with its project-based direct monetary grants. I examine the forms of support foundations have provided—including project grants, materials, professional development, artist space, and funding databases—and I argue that the elimination of the NEA’s fellowship program will help artists by providing and fostering a more diversified support system. Creative Capital Foundation filled a venture capitalist role formerly attributed to the NEA by promoting innovative and provocative works through its open application process. The Ford Foundation launched two influential research initiatives on artists’ needs and spearheaded the establishment of the USA Artists grant program. These two foundations’ initiatives have important policy implications—such as how scalable and sustainable these foundational responses can be without NEA participation—for American artists, given the likelihood that the NEA will not restore its individual artist fellowships.

To read Elizabeth’s full paper about the necessary role that foundations play in supporting individual artists, please contact the ARAD program at aradassistant@tc.columbia.edu.

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.