Throughout the semester, we will feature highlights and insights from Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione’s time in Palestine last summer. This is the final installment of the three-part series.
by Dr. Gemma Mangione
What is evaluation, and why is it important for arts professionals? I’ve written on this issue in other contexts, including in a recent blog post for RK&A, the planning, evaluation, and research firm serving museums for which I serve as a consulting analyst. As I suggest in the post, the question has in some ways become a rhetorical one. In an era of ever-increasing accountability to external stakeholders — primarily funders — evaluation savvy is not just an optional set of marketable professional skills, but necessary to the practice of arts management. Nevertheless, few arts professionals have the training to either lead smaller-scale evaluation projects or the resources to work with external consultants that can help them develop larger or longer-term initiatives.
Throughout the semester, we will feature highlights and insights from Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione’s time in Palestine last summer. This is the second installment of the three-part series. Please stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for more #ARADPalestine.
As the prior blog post on ARAD’s international curricular partnership in Palestine noted, Dr. Jennifer Lena and I began work on this project by conducting a pre-program assessment. The assessment aimed to identify core needs for administrative training among administrators at a sample of arts and culture institutions in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. From this, we were able to provide recommendations that were used to develop curriculum design for the Arts Management certificate pilot.
Throughout the semester, we will feature highlights and insights from Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione’s time in Palestine last summer. Please stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for more #ARADPalestine.
This past summer, ARAD Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Lena, and Lecturer, Dr. Gemma Mangione visited Palestine to lead an intensive arts administration program for staff from arts organizations in the West Bank. In addition to teaching, Dr. Lena and Dr. Mangione sought out cultural experiences that informed their understanding of the area and created indelible memories. Dr. Lena shared photos from her travels around the West Bank and her visits toYad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center,the Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union, andBanksy’s Walled Off Hotel (keep an eye out for a future posts describing these visits and what they meant to her).
ARAD’s Fall microgrant helped Jordan Carter attend the International Association of Blacks In Dance (IABD) 50th Annual Conference and Festival. Jordan shares with us how the experience brought to life what he’s been learning in the classroom.
First-year student Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20) started her position as Social Media Coordinator for ARAD this month! She is thrilled to share her thoughts about the job and the different skills she hopes to bring to the position.
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.
We talked with Eric about his experiences as a music producer, professor, and arts administrator:
By Melissa Weisberg ’20
ARAD 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.
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):
Ty 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.
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.
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.