Alumnus Eric Oberstein (’09) reflects on collaborating with artists and teaching future arts administrators

Eric Oberstein by Alex Boerner
Eric Oberstein by Alex Boerner

Arts Administration alumnus Eric Oberstein (’09) is a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning producer, arts administrator, musician, educator, and consultant. Oberstein currently serves as Associate Director of Duke Performances, the professional performing arts presenting organization at his undergraduate alma mater, Duke University. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship program, where he teaches a course, Introduction to Performing Arts Management & Entrepreneurship, for Duke undergraduates. Oberstein is currently collaborating with Cuban drummer, composer, educator, and MacArthur Fellow Dafnis Prieto on the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, serving as Producer on a debut album, Back to the Sunset, released in April 2018 on Prieto’s label, Dafnison Music, and nominated for a Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. The Latin GRAMMYs will air on November 15. 

Latin GRAMMY Nom Square

We talked with Eric about his experiences as a music producer, professor, and arts administrator:

Continue reading “Alumnus Eric Oberstein (’09) reflects on collaborating with artists and teaching future arts administrators”

How we made space during our Fall Distinguished Speaker Series with Danielle King (ARAD ’11)

By Melissa Weisberg ’20
A&HG_DanielleKing_10.16.18_26ARAD was pleased to host its Fall Distinguished Speaker Series on Tuesday, October 16 with ARAD alumna Danielle King (‘11), Director of Programming at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC). King’s talk Making Space, explored the many meanings of space and the ways in which LMCC supports New York artists and engages the public through the use of non-traditional physical spaces. In the spirit of making space, King began by opening the conversation to the audience by asking, “When I make space, I want the space to be…” A list ranging from inclusive, welcoming, safe, and flexible to transformative, super queer, fair, and spontaneous filled the whiteboard. She then compelled the audience to observe the lecture room and amend it in ways that reflected words on the board. King’s point quickly surfaced by the time everyone was settled into the new configuration: space is a vessel that can frame expression and dialogue.

King went on to explain the programs she oversees at LMCC including Workspace, the organization’s longest running residency program, and the River to River Festival, an annual arts festival with events in Lower Manhattan. Both programs challenge the ways in which we experience space: Workspace by providing and occupying existing but nontraditional spaces for their artists to work in and the River to River Festival by activating and transforming public outdoor space. King made it clear that unconventional spaces offer room for experimentation, professional development, and dialogue.

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King shared how her background and Columbia’s Arts Administration program has informed her work at LMCC in an interview conducted by first year student, Melissa Weisberg (ARAD ’20):

Continue reading “How we made space during our Fall Distinguished Speaker Series with Danielle King (ARAD ’11)”

Ty Cooperman ’20 on his work in the Violators

Cooperman_TyTy Cooperman is a first year Arts Administration graduate student from New York. He co-founded and manages Anti-Renaissance, a queer art collective. Ty earned his BA in Art History with high honors from NYU. Ty’s scholarship generally focuses on queer art and artists as well as the complexities of exhibiting controversial and/or previously censored works of art. His larger goal in graduate school is to learn how to make the digital age maximally profitable for visual artists.

Ty’s work is currently on view in The Violators, a group exhibition of queer artists whose works have been targeted by censorship on social media on view at Leslie-Lohman Project Space this weekend.

Congratulations on the exhibition—how have you continued your artistic practice and work with artists while starting grad school?

Thank you! Honestly it requires a lot of work and planning to do both. I’ve been fortunate to have a class schedule that is concentrated during the first half of the week, which makes managing my sort-of dual identities a bit more manageable. That being said, it’s definitely a balancing act.

The Violators is a group exhibition of queer artists whose works have been targeted for censorship on social media. Can you describe your work in the show? What do you hope visitors take away from the exhibition?

My work in the exhibition comes from my instant photographs (Polaroid and Instax film) many of which are of sexualized situations.

I hope people leave the show with an augmented understanding of – or at least willingness to consider – the ways in which art can involve sex and still, at the very least, be worthy of art object status.

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Courtesy of Ty Cooperman

How do you see social media impacting the arts and/or artists? Specifically for queer artists?

This show is about queer artists whose work has been censored on social media. Social media is an important part of how contemporary artists are becoming and remain financially viable. Censorship towards queer art can take many forms: homophobia from other users, implicit discrimination coded into computer programs responsible for policing content (as on Instagram), the inadvertent structural discrimination faced by organizations trying to buy targeted ads on Facebook’s advertising platform, etc. Hopefully these issues will become more readily discussed and the Silicon Valley tech overlords will become more open to engaging all the various communities that fall under the umbrella of queer.

You co-founded Anti-Renaissance, a queer arts collective—can you tell us more about the collective? What’s the backstory for the name?

The name comes from my co-founder’s (Desmond Sam) old photoblog called “you are the renaissance.” When we were brainstorming names I told him I liked the notion of talking about The Renaissance, and the nuances that come with the established connotations of “The Renaissance” in art history, but that it would be more fitting (and provocative) for us to be ‘against’ any claim made by cultural elites about the quality of our work: We are a queer art collective that represents a group excluded by elites from notions of ‘good’ art. We ran with it.

The name also is part of our house, Haus of Anti-. Houses are an important element of NYC queer culture (think Paris is Burning, except our house is an artist house, not a vogueing/ballroom scene house). As Anti-Renaissance, we work within the queer community to find opportunities to showcase world-class queer art and artists to the world at large. At our core we seek to empower queer artists with the skills, resources, and opportunities necessary to flourish and find financial viability.

How does your experience in the classroom relate to what you are experiencing in the field?

The reality is that the world of art is a business and we live in a late-stage capitalist society. If I want to be a maximally useful advocate for artists today, I need skillsets that enable me to think both through the lens of an art critic and historian and also from the perspective of a shrewd capitalist. To invoke Bourdieu, for me, it’s about trying to maximize artists’ economic and cultural capital.

What are your hopes for your next steps in your career?

I’d like to enter the business of art logistics. I know from my own experiences and those of my friends in the field that there is a lot of room for improvement in these areas. At the same time, I can also see myself becoming an artist agent or consultant to businesses involved in the art market.

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Arts Administration Announces its Fall 2018 Microgrant Recipients

The Arts Administration Program (ARAD) at Teachers College, Columbia University is pleased to announce recipients of the Fall 2018 Microgrants for Student Professionalization.

Through the Microgrant Program and with generous support from the Arts and Humanities Department at Teachers College, ARAD proudly supports student professionalization activities on campus and beyond. This award champions special projects proposed by Teachers College student groups (with ARAD student membership), as well as professional development for individual students in the ARAD program. Applications were invited through an open call process, and selected by ARAD faculty.

Continue reading “Arts Administration Announces its Fall 2018 Microgrant Recipients”

Student Spotlight: Sunny Leerasanthanah

Sunny- newSunny Leerasanthanah was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and lives in New York City, where she is completing her MA at Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2016, she received a BFA in Film, Photography, and Visual Arts at Ithaca College, New York. Sunny plans to work with non-profit visual arts organizations and institutions in the future, while balancing her work as a multidisciplinary artist. She has previously completed curatorial internships at the Brooklyn Museum, Public Art Fund, and most recently, Art21, where she contributed to their upcoming anthology book of interviews with international contemporary artists. In addition to work and graduate school, she enjoys working on different artistic projects.

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Second Year Allason Leitz Returns to Congo International Film Festival

Allason Leitz is in her second year of her masters in Arts Administration at Columbia University. She has worked for the last seven years with the Congo International Film Festival (CIFF) most recently as the assistant to the Artistic Director where she primarily gathered (and occasionally curated) films. Since beginning at CIFF, she has worked on a number of projects that seek to connect Congo and the western world, primarily through her work with the web series Kinshasa Collection and the women-owned startup Tulizeni.

Allason shared her reflections on her most recent trip to Goma with us:

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Allason celebrating closing night of CIFF with colleagues Gaius Kowene and Bernadette Vivuya (both have international careers, and help with the festival)

This summer I went back to Goma, D.R. Congo to be part of the Congo International Film Festival which I’ve been helping out with for the past seven years. Two things were a bit different this year than in the past: 1) I was coming off of an incredible first year in the ARAD program and 2) the festival was transitioning from a founder-run festival to one run by a successor. As we learned in our course “Principles and Practices in Arts Administration,” this sort of organizational shift can affect every defining aspect of an organization. Yet as with most experiences that push your limits, the things I took away from being there in person far exceeded what I imagined when I sent out the countless emails and messages for the GoFundMe campaign I was relying on.

Taking part in a film festival in a war zone comes with its fair share of challenges, ones that inevitably go outside the scope of the Arts Administration challenges we speak about regularly in our program. On more than one occasion I wondered if getting there was even going to be a reality. The festival depended on me, so I had to get there–I was responsible for the tablets we needed for an exhibition, and I had the only copy of EVERY single film for the festival. Despite whatever happened, these items had to make it there.

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Flying into Kamembe, Rwanda.

My journey was complicated by a short planning time frame and a complicated visa process. Getting a visa to the D. R. Congo has become more complex based on new international agreements between the U.S. and the D. R. Congo—it is a process that can take ten days and subject to quirks in the system. Sitting in desperation on Connecticut Ave in Washington, D.C. with no visa the day before my already postponed flight, I wound up resorting to the absolute last option to make it to Goma in time. Instead of flying from D.C. to Goma directly, I changed my flight to fly to Kigali, Rwanda. Changing my travel route, enabled me to be eligible for a different visa which I could get at the border, though it was unfortunately a much more expensive option. In Kigali I got on a TINY propeller plane to Kamembe (a southern Rwandese border town to Congo) at the crack of dawn and crossed the border on foot to the D.R. Congo. Then, despite a mis-dated visa, I made it onto an overnight boat to Goma (a twelve hour journey instead of the normal three) and arrived six days after I had left my apartment in NYC.

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Arriving in Goma by boat at sunrise.

I could write a small book about all of the mix ups, as well as the amazing people who saved me time and time again and restored my faith in humanity. Yet when everything was going wrong for a while, I was reminded by a friend of mine from ARAD who was texting with me that this would probably make a pretty good story for my grandchildren. In the moment it was riddled with anxiety, triumph, peace, doubt, anger, confusion, euphoria, you name it, the emotions were all there: tell-tale signs of any adventure.

I learned a valuable lesson at the end of an epic journey and an incredible festival with the realities of an unstable warzone ever present. I saw that we in much of the Western world have become dangerously defined by an expectation of ease.

Working at CIFF has in many ways tested my will and my desire. I’ve also learned to trust those inclinations that push me to believe in my values and myself. My journey to Goma was a pale version of the tests many people in Goma face daily, but my greatest privilege is that I have chosen to be a part of this festival every year instead of the innumerable festivals in the U.S., because this festival brings more to the table than any festival I have ever been a part of in the U.S. There is an ease in the U.S. that we take for granted: the electricity working when we have a screening, ready access to internet fast enough to download films, and internet that works and doesn’t cost a fortune.But, CIFF celebrates the triumphant glee of self-expression in a way that accepting ‘ease’ has made routine. It accentuates the bliss and vulnerability that comes from sharing your thoughts with the world and  is truly a celebration of us as individuals and community. The heroes of this festival are my colleagues on the ground who dare to create a festival that can run in in the D. R. Congo as well as in other places around the world. Being in the D. R. Congo constantly reminds me that such deep celebration is best not forgotten.

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Opening night CIFF events at sundown.

Learn more about our August Student Spotlight, Marina Piedade, ARAD ’18

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Marina Piedade, ARAD ’18, was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She completed her Bachelor in Communications and Advertising from the University of São Paulo, and afterwards went on to live in London to study photography at the University of the Arts London. For the last ten years, she has worked as a full-time professional photographer and after moving to the US in 2015, graduated from ARAD program this past May. 

Get to know her through these rapid fire questions:

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?

I was looking for an Arts Administration program specifically. The Columbia program, beside being a very well esteemed program in a Ivy League University, had the most approachable students and faculty. I felt wanted there.

What are the three things you need to have on you at all times?

Phone charger, a bottle of water, and migraine pills.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?

My studies definitely helped me to get a better overall understanding of the area. Also, as we can tailor half of the credits to our own interests, it is possible to find classes to target specific flaws in your own knowledge.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.

As we have such a small program, we developed a “family like” environment, were everyone knew each other’s names. I have no doubt that I have made some friends for life during my two years at TC.

What have been some of your favorite cultural experiences?

My favorite cultural experiences were in fact visiting amazing museums and organization outside the city, and learning about what else happens in the tri-state area. These experiences can only happen when you are not a tourist focused only in New York City.

What is your professional ambition or dream?

Work as a ED of a large visual arts museum.

Who are your three favorite artists, in any medium?

Van Gogh, William Kentridge, and Agnes Martin.

 

Podcasts on Arts

Keeping up with news from the art world is important for art administrators, so we constantly look for ways to get information. We seek out the latest news and most intriguing stories from a variety of sources, including art-focused news sources, arts/culture sections of major newspapers and magazines, and social media. Podcasts are another way to discover new stories and unique insights on art. This list is just the tip of the iceberg—there are hundreds of arts and culture podcasts to explore!

 

 

 

General

 The National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works podcast engages listeners in rich conversations with artists and arts administrators from the performing arts, visual arts, and literature. For shorter bursts of inspiration, NEA also features Shortcuts—quick snippets like drummer Antonio Sanchez’s reflections on live performances and recording. (iTunes)

Capacity Interactive’s CI to Eye is a great addition to an arts administrator’s toolbox. Erik Gensler, the President of Capacity Interactive discusses marketing, development, management, and more with leaders throughout the field. (SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play)

Hyperallergic just launched a new weekly podcast, Art Movements. This is not Hyperallergic’s first venture into podcasting—catch a fantastic conversation between editor Hrag Vartanian and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. (iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, Stitcher)

TEDTalks Art captures insights of artists from around the world. Lecturers span visual and performing artists and administrators. (iTunes)

Visual Arts

Tyler Green’s The Modern Art Notes is a vast collection of interviews with contemporary artists, art historians and administrators. Green ties many episodes to current exhibitions. (iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play)

What do museum visitors think about the art on the walls? On the Lonely Palette, Tamar Avishai highlights museum visitors’ perspectives on art works. (Google Play, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher)

Last year, WNYC and MoMA supported a ten-episode series, A Piece of Work, hosted by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson. It’s deeply informative, but also funny. (iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Google Play)

Museum Archipelago tackles issues museums are facing by discussing them with administrators around the world. And, as host Ian Elner promises, the conversations are never longer than 15 minutes! (iTunes, Google Play)

Interested in tracking the economics of the global art market? Check out Artelligence, which looks at galleries, dealers, art fairs, collectors and more. (Soundcloud, iTunes)

Artsy’s podcast examines issues in commercial and non-profit art worlds, and looks at current events and history. (Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher)

Performing Arts

The Library of Congress’s 2009 to 2011 series Music and the Brain features conversations with scientists, composers, performers, theorists, physicians, psychologists, and other experts who explore the connections between the mind and sound. (iTunes)

That Classical Podcast hosts Kelly and Chris gives history and insights on classical music while having fun. Their laughs are infectious! (iTunes, Stitcher)

The Metropolitan Opera Guild podcast provides hours of opera history. It often links with Met productions, including Met Live in HD broadcasts. (iTunes, SoundCloud)

TodayTix and Theater People (another great podcast!) present Broadway Backstory, which examines the trajectory Broadway productions take from development to opening night. (SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher)

The Premier Dance Network is home to a dozen podcast series on the world of dance and ballet, including the Stage Rightside with James Whiteside (Principal Dancer of American Ballet Theater) and Balancing Pointe. A few series explore dancers’ lives, while others tackle issues facing the field.

Sources (and further reading)

Erikson, B. (2017, November 07). 12 Top Art Podcasts to Add to Your List. Retrieved July 23, 2018, from https://www.artistsnetwork.com/artist-life/12-art-podcasts-inspiration/

Galer, S. S. (2017, August 07). Culture – The 25 culture podcasts that will blow your mind. Retrieved July 22, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170804-the-25-culture-podcasts-that-will-blow-your-mind

Johnston, Z. (2018, July 03). The 26 Best Art Podcasts To Listen To Right Now. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://uproxx.com/life/best-art-podcasts-to-listen-to-right-now/6/

Wingenroth, L. (2017, March 09). Your Guide to The Latest Ballet Podcasts. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.dancemagazine.com/guide-latest-ballet-podcasts-2307024255.html

Reflections on the Culture Business Conference in NYC

A post crafted by Caitlin Green, ARAD ’19

Agenda, a consulting agency based in Paris, hosts conferences around the world to connect leaders in the arts and culture with each other to share the best ideas. They launched their Culture Business conference in after the 2008 financial crisis to reenergize fundraising professionals and find ways to confront new challenges. Agenda has hosted Culture Business around the world, including in Paris, Madrid, Sydney, and Melbourne. Last month, the conference came to New York. ARAD students and recent alumni attended the two-day conference at the Jewish Museum and Museum of the City of New York. Here are their reflections:

 

Nadia Kyne ‘18

As a Canadian, I was especially fascinated to hear the international perspective that the Culture Business Conference’s speakers brought to their discussions of organizational advancement. For example, one standout panel featured Silvia Melchior of the English National Ballet, Hanne Støvring of the American Friends of the National Gallery of Denmark, Daphne Butler Birdsey from the Metropolitan Museum, and Alison Wright from the National Gallery of Australia. It was fantastic to hear these four dynamic leaders speak candidly about the challenges and successes of their own fundraising work, and more broadly discuss the philanthropic trends that they are observing in a global context.

 

Carolina Cambronero-Varela ‘19

Several presenters mentioned the need for arts organizations to be emphatic about the artistic value that they can provide while also maximizing fundraising efforts from that perspective. For example, Ms. Sonia Higgins from Vievero Consulting explained that we need to build partnerships (not monetary exchanges) with shared agendas, combined resources, risks and rewards. We are not building commerce but rather social impact!

 

Emily Lin ‘18

I am inspired by Elizabeth Dobrska from TUGG to think of new ways to engage new audiences through corporate sponsorships. Like board members, corporations are not only able to provide financial support, but they can also connect organizations to communities that they otherwise lack resources to reach out to. It was suggested that organizations be more flexible in designing programs, in collaboration with corporations, that cater to the needs of specific communities.

 

 

 

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Evy Li ‘18

During the World Café session, the discussion for “how do you bounce back from a ’No’?” was very inspiring. There are several steps:

  1. Re-check the content and format of the applications
  2. Check the feedback
  3. Keep the communication open, always ask the next question
  4. Invest time in communicating with the personal assistant of CEO/manager – personal assistants are the most important gate keeper of the application (People at my tables, who are all very experienced, all strongly agree on this point)
  5. Every “No” is a step closer to “Yes”

During the panel for Art of International Giving, I was very inspired to hear the situations about patron trips. The Met approaches international patrons by personalizing conversations. Instead of saying, “you can make a bigger contribution”, they ask “which curator do you want to meet next?” Eventually patrons will make contributions. Trips don’t need to always be art-related. Instead of going to Basel, they arrange trips to local hospitals, creating meanings for patrons that are not to be bragged about, but are truly meaningful and memorable.

 

 

 

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Caitlin Green ‘19

One of the themes that became clear to me is that fundraising is about more than just focusing on the donor. Gary Stoppelman of Newfields explained how changing their mission to being people-focused and growing overall attendance inspired their core supporters. They were excited to see community members enjoying the organization they loved so much. Kendra Foley (an ARAD alumna!) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Garrett Gin of Bank of America showed that corporate donors can become engaged with innovative programs that had a tangible impact.

 

 

 

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Agenda has posted many of the presentations here and made available notes from the conference.

Select photos courtesy of agenda.com

Staff Spotlight: Erika Dickerson, Professional Development Coordinator

Learn more about Erika Dickerson, ARAD’s Professional Development Coordinator.

erikaheadshot.jpgShare with us who you are, your professional experiences thus far, and what led you to this position.
I am a Black feminist Pushcart Prize nominated poet-turned-playwright, educator and grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. Prior to joining the ARAD team, I served as the Assistant Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint. While pursuing my Master of Arts in Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary, I founded The Love Well Series, a citywide monthly teach-in for faith leaders designed to foster education about social injustice in an American context. I hold a Bachelor of Science in English Secondary Education with a certificate in Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, I founded the For Colored Girls Project, Madison’s first and only women of color theater company, for which I served as Artistic Director from 2010–2013. As a former classroom teacher and Education Specialist, I’ve implemented culturally savvy pedagogical practices in metropolitan area schools and community centers nationally and abroad, having served as an English Language Arts, character education, theatre, and urban arts instructor in Chicago, Madison, Dallas, and Cape Town, South Africa. I have also designed sociopolitically-charged theater-based creative action curricula for arts organizations, including People’s Theatre Project. My life’s mission is hinged on three areas: art (as a practitioner), arts administration and social justice. After spending so much time focused primarily on arts administration and grassroots organizing, I wanted to allow myself the space to really create a new body of creative work while also offering my skills in the arts administration realm. I wanted to create more balance in my life and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

What are you looking forward to in this position? How will you uniquely contribute your experiences to ARAD students?
I am most excited about the diversity of talent and experiences of the students, who each straddle the art and art administration worlds in unique ways. I look forward to their re/visioning of the art administration world and how I can assist them in that re/visioning. As a fairly young Black woman professional who has had a variety of mid and high-level education and nonprofit positions and walked through the world as an artist-art administrator-justice worker, I bring a unique roux of experience coupled with a millennial perspective of the world that I believe is valuable and relevant to the current student body. I bring an abundance of experiential knowledge and tangible resources from across the world that I hope to share.

Tell us who are you outside of work!
I am the Lark’s 2018 Van Lier Playwriting Fellow, an associate organizer with the #LetUsBreatheCollective back home in Chicago and an artistic associate of Black Lives, Black Words International Project. When I’m not at work I’m tucked away in my bedroom working on the tetralogy of plays I have in development at The Lark, on a plane in route to see the world and record it in my journal or organizing against policing, mass incarceration and other state-sanctioned violences against people of color, specifically Black women. You can also catch me rnvisioning radical faith communities that will help transform our world or blasting Jamila Woods’ and Noname’s music, using Black girl joy as resistance on hard days.

Share with us some of your ‘favorites’…
Favorite spot in NY: Lot 45 in Brooklyn
Favorite arts experience in the last year: Watching The House That Will Not Stand (Marcus Gardley) at New York Theatre Workshop. It was an exquisite piece of work!
Favorite place to get work done: The comfort of my bed in Brooklyn
Favorite food: New Orleans soul food; namely sweet potato pecan pie, crawfish etouffee and jambalaya
Favorite trip or place to visit: New Orleans is my safe space; but Cape Town is an international favorite
Upcoming arts experience you are most looking forward to: The mounting of my own work in a workshop production at The Public Theater in the spring
Upcoming trip you are looking forward to: Sicily (to be planned) 🙂