The Arts Administration Program (ARAD) held its annual Holiday Service Project on December 4th. The event included a joyous performance by Spark Notes, TC’s a cappella group, and included Mari Takeda (ARAD ’20), and together we created two dozen gift bags filled with art supplies for the Art Start children and another 15 for their mothers.
This was the first year that ARAD students managed the project, and we want to extend our gratitude to, and acknowledge the hard work and creativity of, the ARAD Service Corps – Nadine Baldasare, Tia Bangura, Monica Chen, Nicole Chen, Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis, Gaosong Heu, Carolina Ide, Sarah Lamade, Sarah Leary, Sunny Leerasanthanah, Jessica Liu, Carolina Luna, Ian Prince, Yuhe Ren, Morgan Sapp, Mari Takeda, Taffe Tang, Tingjun Wang, Melissa Weisberg, Camille Weisgant, Phoebe Yin, and Megan Zhang.
Through their efforts, we received in-kind donations from Target, Paper Source, and Janoff’s Stationery for Art Start, an organization that brings arts programming to at-risk youth living in city shelters, on the streets, or surviving with parents in crisis. We also received a keyboard stand and the shoe company Bloch donated 150+ ballet shoes for the National Dance Institute, which uses dance and music to engage public school children and their communities to motivate them to strive for their personal best. We also raised $500, which will be split between the two organizations.
Tia Bangura (ARAD ’20) served on the Partnership Development Committee and was responsible for choosing arts organizations and acquiring donations. The Partnership Development Committee chose Art Start and National Dance Institute (NDI). As Tia describes, she contacted and established a relationship with Bloch, who donated dance shoes to NDI.
“From start to finish, I communicated with both of my contacts at Bloch and NDI to make sure everything went smoothly. When it came time to deliver the donations, I felt proud knowing that this project would have a positive effect on this arts organization. I know I couldn’t accomplish as much working on my own, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to build ties among many partners to maximize our impact.”
This was an opportunity for ARAD students to manage a multi-faceted project and build their professional skills. As Tia says, “During my first semester as an ARAD student, helping organize the Holiday Service Project was a valuable out-of-the-classroom learning opportunity. Initially, I wanted to volunteer to become more familiar with my classmates and the local neighborhood. though now I feel that I’ve accomplished so much more and walked away with some experience securing in-kind donations for nonprofit organizations. The Holiday Service Project, along with the Support Structures course, only confirmed my interests in fundraising and development. I look forward to learning more about this aspect of the art world and contributing my skills and insights.”
For those who attended, thank you for taking time from your busy schedules to help us bring some holiday cheer to those in our community in need.
Funding from the ARAD Microgrant helped Sarah Lamade attend CULTURE/SHIFT, a conference for activists hosted by the U.S. Department of Art and Culture. Sarah shares the lessons learned and key takeaways from her experience.
SAA was also awarded a Microgrant from the Arts Administration Program, which supported two components of a project that considered art and social justice issues: Brave Spaces: Where You, Me, and We Meet, a visual arts exhibition curated by Allison Peller and Briana Zimmerman at the Offit Gallery in Gottesman Library (October 4-31, 2018) and an interdisciplinary panel discussion, Liberating Imagination though Artistic Activism. The main objective was to unite people through the transformative power of art to raise awareness and activism for change.
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.
Sunny 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.
Naomi Litman-Zelle is entering her second year in the Arts Administration program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Cultural Anthropology, and spent time after graduating working in the world of fundraising for an educational non-profit organization. Her interests include art museum education and community engagement with a focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives. While enrolled in ARAD, Naomi has interned at the Rubin Museum.
Naomi shared her reflections on life in ARAD with us (as well as a few of her cartoons!):
What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University?
I wanted to be in New York City, and after some research, I realized that TC would be a great fit for my interests. A lot of the faculty also have a social science background, which set the ARAD program here apart from other programs I was looking at. I also liked hearing at Admitted Student’s Day that the admissions committee carefully selected the cohorts so that there would be a broad range of interests and backgrounds. It’s been a real joy to learn so much from my fellow classmates.
What are the three things you need to have on you at all times?
I always carry an extra layer in my bag. In New York in general and especially at TC, you never know what the temperature in a room is going to be, so I always like to be prepared. Also, I usually have pens and a notebook with me for class and to doodle in on the train or during down time.
How are your studies helping to advance your career goals?
I think I’ve become more focused in what I want and I’ve made really great connections that will be useful to me when I graduate. Beyond just job opportunities, having contacts and doing informational interviews with some of the foremost leaders in the field are a tremendous asset.
Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community.
I’ve loved befriending the folks in my cohort. It is a really positive and friendly group, and I think we’ve built a nice community. From happy hours to study sessions, it’s been nice having a group of people with such similar interests and schedules. Being a grad student also means my downtime differs from my 9-to-5 friends, so I definitely take advantage of being able to see a movie at 2 p.m. or going to an event on a weeknight!
What have been some of your favorite cultural experiences in New York City?
I think the theater I’ve seen is probably the highlight. I have been to some Broadway shows, but the most fun things I’ve seen have been either student shows or performances produced or performed by people I know.
What is one topic you have been discussing in Arts Administration classes this week?
It’s summer right now for me, so I’m not in classes, but something I’ve been thinking a lot about is the repatriation of art objects. I visited the art museum in my home state when I was visiting a couple weeks ago, and it houses the largest solid piece of jade outside of China. Having the Jade Mountain in the museum is really valuable from an educational standpoint, but I sometimes wonder what right the museum has to such a sacred object. I think about this with regards to the Temple of Dendur at the Met as well; this idea of ownership of objects from foreign countries and whether or not it makes sense to house them in American museums. It’s a complex issue, but fascinating and important.
In your view, who are some of the major influencers working in arts administration right now?
I think Kimberly Drew is someone who really inspires me. She’s a pop-culture icon that brings a really important voice to the museum and art history community, and she manages the social media for the Met. Also Annie Polland, the new VP of education and programming at the Tenement Museum. I recently heard her speak at the NYCMER conference hosted at TC, and she was really inspiring. She’s super invested in the community and using storytelling to connect the museum to the broader public, and I think that’s an amazing concept.
What is your professional ambition or dream?
I would love to be the director of programming/community engagement at an art museum or arts organization.
Who are your three favorite artists, in any medium?
There are too many to list! I draw cartoons in my spare time, so some of my biggest inspirations are Gary Larson (The Far Side), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Roz Chast (The New Yorker) and Cathy Guisewite (Cathy). I love how they mix humor and art.