Alumni Spotlight: Carolina Cambronero-Varela, Co-Producer of “Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation”

What is your role in working with Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation? How did Artivism begin and how did it become a multi-institutional collaboration?

Thank you for this opportunity ARAD family, such an honor to be back home!

My motto goes: Trust engenders opportunities; opportunities: a dignified life. This motto describes what is happening with this ongoing endeavor, the cumulative labor of love of many.

The initiative Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation emerged from the book Illuminations of Social Imagination, which flourished from the event Liberating Imagination Through Artistic Activism, and the exhibition Brave Spaces: Where You, Me and We Meet. This event and exhibition were made possible via Columbia University’s Student Advocates for the Arts (SAA) in collaboration with New York University’s Advocates for Cultural Engagement (ACE). Thank you SAA then fellow board members Lauren Williams and Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis and ACE president Briana Zimmerman. Much gratitude also to Ms. Katarina Wong, Dr. Gemma Mangione, Dr. Jennifer Lena, all SAA sponsors, and collaborators.

As a note to current ARAD students, SAA has enormous potential. In my previous interview, I mentioned that teamwork, dedication and discipline, with a little sacrifice, are all you need as the infrastructure for your dreams. Go get them!!

Thank you God and all that have made this evolution possible. As you can imagine, collaboration is the key in building this robust network of what is now Artivism. Immense gratitude to you all for your trust!

Because of this book’s collaborative spirit, featuring 15 authors and three co-editors, it felt only natural to create a program with the authors, their thought-provoking chapters, and the socially engaged projects they’re involved in. This is how the idea came about with the Gottesman Libraries: How about a year-long Program (Spring-Fall 2021) emphasizing the topic of our recently published book regarding Social Imagination and the arts for social change?

It was thanks to Artivism’s fairy godmother, Ms. Jennifer Govan, Senior Librarian and Director of the Gottesman Libraries, that doors were opened and Artivism grew into what it is today. With her trustful “yes”, we contacted Dr. Christine Riordan, President of Adelphi University, who then connected us with her team, Dr. Stephanie Lake, Professor Argiro Agelarakis, and Sarah Avery from the Criminal Justice Program. In addition, we were also joined by Dr. Inés Archer from Adelphi’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Soon thereafter, Sing for Hope co-founders, Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, saw potential in the idea and became Artivism’s co-collaborators and co-sponsors.

Can you explain what “artivism” is and what it means to you?

Artivism looks to ignite the passion within each of us to be the change agents of our moribund society: with our current resources, where we are. Artivism builds networks of content creation, collaborations, and new ways of thinking as tools to transform systemic societal disjunctives. 

Artivism brings to light how the arts can redress inequities, reflect all voices, and push society forward. This interdisciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration aims to engage people in transforming society through the power of art. The initiative’s vision is to generate a movement where committed social ‘artivists’ are responding to historical global unrest and creating community through multidisciplinary teamwork toward a more dignified and meaningful coexistence.  Artivism hosts presenters and their initiatives from all over the world, encouraging teamwork, working for the common good, and exchanging ideas. Artivism is currently also building its European chapter.

Artivism is the result of dedication, teamwork and reciprocity. Artivism is an example of selfless collaboration for the greater good. To me, this is the objective-solidarity, sharing and being one; one family that cares for each other worldwide in hopes of transforming societal systemic disjunctives.

What initiatives is Artivism currently working on?

Our current season started this past September and will feature an amazing line-up of international presenters, spanning from locations such as Ecuador, Greece, Costa Rica, Russia, the Philippines, Iran, and France. In addition, we are also collaborating with Adelphi University’s “Fall Arts Festival” on October 6th, 2021, with a live roundtable discussion, held in the Olmsted Theater at Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center. Adelphi students are also currently working on creating an official Artivism Club on campus. Our ongoing Student Ambassador Program continues to provide a platform for students to share their voices while also connecting directly with other artivists. This upcoming Spring 2022 season is all lined up and ready to ignite our audiences.

Artivism shows what dedication, teamwork and solidarity can do. It shows how each individual has the means, not in the future but NOW to be the change agent in their current context. By being mindful, attentive, present, and receptive in your everyday activities and taking selfless action, you are everything needed to inspire and transform the status quo, one person at the time- starting with YOU. Now, how are you inspiring others?

Artivism: Nurturing change for a more dignified and meaningful coexistence

Get involved

For more information on Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation, check out the links below.

Carolina Cambronero Varela, M.A. is engaged in community endeavors that promote a better environment and future through the arts and peace education. She believes these are human rights that will guide all, primarily children, to a deeper understanding of the power of transformation that each person has within. Carolina envisions the creation of these opportunities as integral components for a dignified life (please refer to The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 1966).

While at Columbia University, Carolina was president of Student Advocates for the Arts, co-chair of the Peace Education Network, and program representative in the Arts and Humanities Department Student Council. She also became a member of Kappa Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, Global Citizens Club, and Columbia’s University Life Events Council.

Currently, Carolina co-produces the initiative Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation, an ongoing, multimodal collaboration sponsored by Sing for Hope, Adelphi University and Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University. Artivism aims to generate community through multi-disciplinary teamwork for a more dignified and meaningful coexistence, however you define these terms. The initiative aims to nurture confidence in taking continuous action from wherever you are by means of reciprocity.

Links:

Interview

National Arts Action Summit

From Negative to Positive Event

Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation

Alumni Spotlight: Kimberly Theodore Sidey(ARAD ’11), Music Education Grants Program Officer at Chorus America

Kimberly Theodore Sidey (ARAD ’11) is currently the Music Education Grants Program Officer at Chorus America in Washington, DC. Program Associate, Nigel Finley, had the chance catch up with Kimberly via Zoom, where they spoke about the ARAD program and her life after Teachers College.

Tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree?

I grew up in a small town outside of Minneapolis, St. Paul, which in itself has a robust arts community. It was there, I was able to really dive into my interest in music, theatre, and dance. Then in the late ’90s, my family moved to Austin, Texas, which also has a really rich art and cultural community. I then studied Choral Music Education at the University of Texas at Austin. After undergrad, I taught choir and voice lessons in Austin and Houston before moving to New York City, which is where I completed my master’s degree and graduated from TC in 2011. 

What attracted you to the program specifically at TC?

At the time, the majority of my professional experience had been in the classroom. But, in addition to being a certified music educator, I was also an assistant conductor for a small non-profit children’s choir – which is where I had the opportunity to learn about arts administration and the kind of skills needed for effective non-profit management. So, knowing that there was a real breadth and depth of programming is what attracted me to TC. I felt confident that this was the place where I could develop these necessary skills while also gaining a holistic understanding of the arts ecosystem.  

Where do you currently work and what is your role?

As of May 2021, I work for Chorus America, the professional development, research, and advocacy organizations for the choral field. My position as the Music Education Grants Program Officer is actually a newly created position. Earlier this year, Chorus America, was very fortunate to receive a substantial grant from a private funder to create a regranting program. In my role, I will be very focused on building this new grant program. It’s specifically the Music Education Partnerships Grants program which is designed to support collaborations between non-profit organizations and schools during the 2022-23 academic year. Our goal in our inaugural year will be focused on increasing access to singing for K- 9th graders and to promote learning through cross-cultural exchange, while upholding the principles of access, diversity, and inclusion. This program is going to be making grants in four different regions: British Columbia, the Northwest, Central Appalachian, Southwest, and also the Upper Midwest.

This being a newly created grant program, how does this differ or not from your other grant programs?

This program is actually very aligned and similar to the other programs here at Chorus America. Music education specifically is a big part of our strategic plan and our mission. We support over 6,000 conductors, educators, board members, and non-profit professionals in the field. We know that access to earlier learning experiences in music and singing is really important in building a lifelong love for singing. So, this is really aligned with what we’re doing and a wonderful opportunity for Chorus America to increase our impact within the field.

Where is your organization located?

Washington, DC however we support organizations across North America.

How would you say ARAD helped prepare you for this role or your career? Were there any courses, experiences, or skillsets that you feel were most valuable?

I think ARAD was so valuable in that it provided me this rich learning opportunity to develop the fundamentals but also the critical thinking skills required for this field. I left the program with an understanding of what makes a healthy, vibrant, arts organization. I think the other thing ARAD helped me understand was the funder and grantee relationship and how to effectively build those relationships and make a case for funding. That was particularly helpful in the beginning of my career when I focused on fundraising. I found that my experience as a fundraiser has really informed my work as a grant-maker.

How would you describe the difference between a grantmaker and a fundraiser?

A fundraiser is soliciting and building financial support for a nonprofit organization, whereas a grant-maker or funder is distributing grants to organizations to support their work.

How did the pandemic affect your work as a grantmaker?

Although I am still fairly new at Chorus America I understand we had a robust response to the pandemic. As you know, singing is one way that this virus can be transmitted. There was a lot of focus on aspiration and the droplets that are produced when you’re singing or speaking. Chorus America stepped up by providing a wealth of resources, articles, and guidelines on how to respond to the pandemic.

I think speaking broadly the pandemic had a major impact on the field of philanthropy. In 2021, we saw a lot of increased investment in terms of dollars. I think the pandemic also in tandem with the Black Lives Matter movement has had a profound impact on how grants are distributed. There’s been much more conversation in this field to ensure that equity is centered in the work. And at the foundation I worked at a few months ago, I was really fortunate to be part of the substantial process to center our woman’s issues grants in equity. I believe organizations are asking themselves – How can we widen the circle of influence in our grant-making? How do we streamline the application process and increase transparency? How do we incorporate a community voice in the process in a way that before the pandemic we had not done? We have also been addressing implicit bias and providing training for grant reviewers – changes like removing identifying information or other tactics to help curb implicit bias. I think another thing we saw philanthropy do in general was respond by offering more flexible multi-year funding.

Chorus America has an incredible opportunity because we are not revising, we are able to build our grant-making program from the ground up. We’ve been working with a fantastic group of community advisors from across North America who are helping us co-create our grant guidelines. It’s been a huge joy to work with them! They’re a very talented group of musicians, touring artists, grant-makers, educators, researchers, arts non-profit professionals, and many other relevant fields. They bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and diverse lived experience to help inform our review process, which will ultimately decide how we distribute funding. To be involved in this type of community building has very meaningful and rewarding.

What are you most excited about in the next year?

I think the thing I’m most excited about will be the launch of this program. The guidelines will be released in October. Applications will open in November and due next January 2022. We’re granting out just over $900,000 in this next grant cycle across four regions in the US and Canada.

What advice would you give other arts administrators interested in pursuing fundraising or development in the arts?

If you are interested in pursuing development within the arts I would advise you to pursue an internship where you will get some hands-on experience.  I think also listening is a very important skill. You have to understand your donor base and you won’t know what folks need unless you listen. Then, I would say you need the courage to not be afraid of making mistakes. Especially in philanthropy. We can spend a lot of time reviewing reports and planning and I think that just takes courage to just start doing the work.

Bio:

Kim is delighted to combine her experience in grant-making and choral music education as program officer for Chorus America’s inaugural Music Education Collaborative Grants. Most recently, she served as program manager at the Austin Community Foundation, where Kim oversaw the RFP process and distribution of grants for the Women’s Fund, a signature program of the Foundation.

Her earliest professional experiences were teaching middle school choirs in Austin and Houston, TX, and since then, Kim has held arts management positions for ZACH Theatre (Austin, TX), Roundabout Theatre Company (New York, NY), and Opera New Jersey (Princeton, NJ).

She holds a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Choral Music Studies from The University of Texas at Austin.

(taken from Chorus America’s website)

Alumni Spotlight: Ty Cooperman(ARAD ’20), Director and Registrar at TW Fine Art

Ty Cooperman (ARAD ‘20) is currently the Director & Registrar at TW Fine Art in Brooklyn, NY. We had the opportunity to speak with Ty virtually, where he shared his experiences in the ARAD program and his life after Teachers College, Columbia.

Tyler (Ty) Cooperman at TW Fine Art’s Brooklyn Outpost

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your current position, and how did you step into your role?

Ty: I am a born and raised New Yorker, and in the ARAD Class of 2020. I entered Columbia just having received my BA with Honors in Art History from NYU knowing I wanted to do the business of art and work with artists, but I didn’t quite know exactly what that was going to look like. While at Columbia, I was super fortunate in that I found an amazing internship with a major collector named Mike De Paola, for whom I first became his personal registrar, I then became the registrar for his business, and have now become gallery director for TW Fine Art. It’s been crazy growth.

What attracted you most to the ARAD program at Teachers College?

Ty: I liked the fact that it was a holistic approach to the arts. I was fairly certain that I wanted to be on the for-profit side of the visual arts, but I liked that I regularly interacted with people who were on the opposite end of the fine arts spectrum, that being non-profit and performance. Because it is a small art world, it’s important for us to all understand what each segment does and the particularities of each group. I’m currently working with a movie studio to get commercial work for some of our artists, and I’m finding they don’t know how to speak our language. You can see the way it creates disconnect, so I feel like it really gave me a leg up in that I can speak intelligently about not only the visual arts but performance. Something that is increasingly clear to me but became clearer to me at Columbia is that regardless of whether you take the for-profit or non-profit route, if you’re working in the high end of the arts, you essentially serve all the same people. It’s a very small group that has that control, and understanding how to work with them on either level is a real advantage.

How did the ARAD program help prepare you for this role?

Ty: My last semester at Columbia when we were transitioning to online was quite crazy in that the art world didn’t know what anything was going to look like. Mike and I were just watching all these amazing small and mid-size galleries being forced to close. Learning what I learned at Columbia, I was able to execute a really precise and specific business model to develop a collaborative company where we not only continue to manage collections, but we also represent artists in an agency style. We do your typical gallery style where we show artists’ work and they ask when they need help, but we also do a 360 degree approach where we do everything; we help artists find commercial clients, develop connections with other galleries across the globe, as well as provide long-term career management.

Can you tell us more about TW Fine Art, it’s mission and goals as an organization? Is TW Fine Art a for-profit or non-profit gallery?

Ty: We started with one gallery space in Palm Beach, Florida in December which has now grown into two spaces with a second space in Brooklyn. In the next year or two we’re going to be expanding into a third space. We are a for-profit gallery, and we definitely have more of a moral and ethical bend than most contemporary art galleries. Something I’ve found very interesting and in a perfect world would love to move towards is the B Corporation model which is something I also learned about at Columbia. I’m a big believer in the idea that artists should not have to be beholden to grant writing in order to be financially viable. If we as a society let alone an industry actually value what the people who we claim to support do, we should all be working hard enough that they can live a nice quality of life. I feel like the easiest way I can accomplish that and be useful to artists at large is to help them by building these careers and direct relationships with collectors who not only ensure that you can pay your rent, but they’re the people who when in 5-10 years you want to do a real solo exhibition or a retrospective at a museum, those are the people who make it happen. It’s because you spent that time working with a gallery who really cares about building those relationships that that next step even becomes possible.

I wish it were not that way, but again what I found both at Columbia and since leaving is that the non-profit and for-profit art world are a lot more similar and intertwined than people like to admit, so I think the idea of a bifurcation between the two is no longer accurate. We do work with non-profits; Brian Kenny, one of our artists who we currently have a solo exhibition up for, just worked with the first LGBTQ+ health organization in Providence and did a mural highlighting local members of the community who advocated for those resources. We are believers in that element of giving back, and you can do it without sacrificing your artists’ ability to buy materials and rent a studio. Our artists already possess the cultural capital; they need people to assist them with the social and economic capital, and that’s what we’re able to do. We’re able to manage those so that they can focus on the gifts that they can offer culture at large.

You mentioned how TW Fine Art has two locations. What makes the Brooklyn location unique?

Ty: What we really try to be cognizant of is that each location of TW Fine Art is unique and the audience is different, and we really try to cater our content to that. There are certain considerations you make. In Brooklyn, we’re often showing work which I consider to be more avant-garde, and it’s often artists who are based in Brooklyn because we try to keep that hyperlocal element; that’s something we feel very strongly about. Brian Kenny, whose show is up now, is actually in Brooklyn. One of the artists in our next group exhibition literally lives down the block and walked in and showed us her work, and we were like “this is perfect for one of our shows!”…We try to really engage with the community. We’ve also been talking a lot about showing work from some of the people who live in the housing for chronically homeless individuals in Boerum Hill. We’re trying to deeply engage with the local community, and it makes me really happy. I think that as an arts professional let alone an arts administrator, that’s something we should all really consider. Again, this is why I believe you can be for-profit with a moral compass. Something we always think about when we’re planning an exhibition is the fact that we want it to be approachable to those who are not indoctrinated into the art world yet which means we do sell very expensive things to wealthy people, but we also provide an opportunity for anyone without having to pay anything. It’s a free opportunity to see great art, and we take our mission very seriously in serving that audience. You can wear whatever you want and speak however you’d like; we’re still going to treat you with respect and give you the same tour I would give a museum trustee, and I think that’s really valuable in that we have started developing locals who come back in and bring their children. It’s really rewarding to know that we’re adding something to the cultural fabric of this community. 

What are you most excited about in the coming year?

Ty: We sort of do this pendulum from figurative to abstract. I truly love both, but I’m most intrigued when we end up in those middle spaces where they’re starting to flow together. I think we’re about to see a period of abstraction make its way back into the market which I’m very excited about. I have to say there is a hotbed of talent right now in New York, in Philadelphia, in the UK. There’s so much great art talent that is yet to be given the right spotlight. I’m showing 11 artists in my next exhibition which opens on August 24th. I’m showing all these artists for the first time, and I’m so excited about each and every one of them. I really think we’re seeing this moment where we’ll get to see more dialogue between sculpture and painting and the environment versus the pictorial plain, and I think we’re ready for something that demands intellectually a little more of us. I’m ready to see what the market does next, and I’m quite excited. I think we’ll see a resurgence of performance. I’m working with an artist right now who I’m working to bring to the United States, and their work is very interactive. Now that we have the chance to let people into a physical space, I’m excited to see what it looks like when we do these interactive and immersive exhibitions, like taking the crux of the concept of the Museum of Icecream but turning it into something that’s actually intellectually and artistically engaging as much as it is Instagram-friendly and really taking it to that next level where we’re not dumbing down the art but rather we’re elevating the environment and at the same time making it approachable to people.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Ty: I live and breathe what I do. I love my job and love all the artists we’ve ever worked with. To be completely honest, I usually spend my days off with our artists in their studios or going to galleries. This is sort of my whole life. I genuinely couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Meet Grace J. Choi, ARAD’s new Program Manager

ARAD is delighted to welcome Grace J. Choi as our new Program Manager. Learn more about Grace, her goals for her new role, and what she does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

Bay Area woman here! I grew up mainly in Palo Alto, California but also was partially raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where my Korean parents immigrated to as children before moving to the US as adults. After growing as an artist and writer at NYU (I majored in sculpture in the Studio Art program in Steinhardt), my interest in the intersection of the arts and technology developed upon revisiting where I “come from” and how different facets of my experience and upbringing could also be applied to designing learning experiences for others, particularly in cultural institutions.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role? 

Prior to coming to TC as the secretary for the Program in Social Studies at TC, I worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few years in a specialized team within their Member and Visitor Services Department working closely with VIPs and corporate sponsors, education groups (K-12 and higher ed), and third-party tourism companies as my main three circles of clientele. I then had the pleasure of working with the faculty and staff in the Social Studies program for two and a half years, which really broadened my perspective on higher education settings, the challenges presented to faculty, staff and students alike in an academic structure, and the ongoing question of how to best support students so that they, in turn, can be best equipped to support their own communities.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

Leading up to this particular opportunity to work with ARAD as its new Program Manager, I have on multiple occasions revisited what it means to be a part of an ideal academic community. What does a program in that community look, act, and move like? What spaces and opportunities does it provide for students and staff? How are faculty supported in providing their students a robust, challenging and growth-oriented learning experience? In essence, what makes that program unique?

When we consider more community-based aspects of the spaces we inhabit– be they academic, professional, cultural, of any kind– I find that each person brings in such valuable insight because they genuinely care about belonging. Not only as professionals, but also as people and as global citizens. Having worked at a museum and as well as another program at TC beforehand, I find this uplifting– because who are we if we don’t take care of each other and those around us? 

What are you looking forward to in taking on this role?

The people! I consider myself extremely fortunate to join this community of burgeoning interdisciplinary professionals and leaders in the arts. Looking forward to meeting the students and supporting them through their journeys in ARAD and TC!

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I wish I spent more time painting and drawing (continuing sculpture is just a little hard to do without a studio space), especially in the past year of staying in one place, but in the meantime I’ve also found pockets of peace in fishing in various quiet spots around NYC. I also really enjoy a good book– I’ve been reading Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology after wanting to get my hands on it for a long while, and can’t recommend it enough!

Meet Nigel Finley, ARAD’s new Program Associate

ARAD is delighted to welcome Nigel Finley as our new Program Associate. Learn more about Nigel, his goals for his new role, and what he does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

I am originally from South Orange, New Jersey and graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. I earned my undergraduate degree at Rider University in Arts Administration with a theatre emphasis. 

What previous experiences have led you to your current role? 

Prior to Columbia University, I have worked at a multitude of arts and cultural institutions including the Harlem School of the Arts, State Theatre New Jersey, Artworks Trenton, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. In my most recent role as the Development Associate of the Harlem School of the Arts, I was a primary administrative support and frontline fundraiser working directly with senior staff to implement institutional fundraising strategy and goals.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

I actually originally entered my college career as a musical theatre major, however, after taking an Intro to Arts Administration class my freshman year, I decided I wanted to broaden my focus and learn how to make an impact both on and off the stage. In that class that I realized how entrenched my life had been in arts and cultural nonprofits and their essential influence on my educational growth. If it wasn’t for the many arts advocates, teachers, and particularly fundraisers in my community working to create access and diverse programming, than I would have missed out on a multitude of formative experiences. For that, I have found a passion for the support and advocacy of arts institutions and their programming.

What are you looking forward to in taking on this role?

I am most excited to be back in a collegiate setting! I think there is something special about the campus atmosphere that sparks inspiration, curiosity, and then discovery. I am excited to be a part of stewarding that experience for the current students at TC’s Arts Administration program. 

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

My interests span from walks in nature or reading random psychology articles, to creating an art piece or performing on stage. However, a large labor of love has been my participation as a founding team member of Aurway Repertory Theatre. Aurway is a network of emerging and professional ARTISTs based out of Newark, NJ, dedicated to the pursuit, presentation, and creation of culturally relevant art through the lens of black and brown people. Through community partnerships, educational workshops, and public performances we create a space for artists and viewers alike to engage in a dialogue on pressing social issues while experiencing an unconventional approach to artmaking and theatrical performance. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Nigel Finley is a Harlem-based artist and arts administrator with a background in fundraising and marketing for major NYC and NJ arts and cultural organizations including the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), State Theatre NJ, Artworks Trenton, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). He is also a founding team member at Aurway Inc., a Newark-based repertory theatre company. Nigel graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in Arts Administration with a Theatre emphasis.

Meet Joanna Calhoun, ARAD’s new Social Media Coordinator

ARAD is delighted to welcome Joanna Calhoun (ARAD ’23) as our new Social Media Manager. Learn more about Joanna, her goals for her new role, and what she does outside of TC.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was your undergraduate degree focused on?

I am from West Monroe, Louisiana and I earned my undergraduate degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a Minor in Business Management.

What previous experiences have led you to your current role?

At Tulane University, I took classes in performing arts, visual arts, and business management, and I desired to pursue a career path that allowed me to combine all of these passions. During my undergraduate career, I worked with several arts organizations in Louisiana such as the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Make Music NOLA, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Each one of these roles helped me discover my love for arts administration and social media management.

How have those experiences informed your current professional path?

During my internships, I gained experience in writing blog posts and articles, conducting interviews, photographing events, creating digital content, and managing social media. I believe these experiences have properly prepared me for the position of Social Media Coordinator. I look forward to further developing my current skills as I am interested in pursuing a career in management, marketing, and social media at an arts organization when I graduate.

What are you looking forward to in taking on this role?

As an incoming student to the ARAD Program, I am very excited to get to know my cohort and collaborate with faculty, staff, and alumni! I am looking forward to using my experience and knowledge towards promoting and strengthening the ARAD program and community.

What do you do outside of your time at TC?

I have been a musician my entire life, and my primary instrument is the violin. You can most often find me playing the violin whether it be as a soloist, in a band, or in a symphony orchestra. My other hobbies include drawing and painting, thrifting, and photography. I also love exploring the city and going to new restaurants, museums, and concerts!

Joanna Calhoun is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University. She graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Composition and a minor in Business Management. At Tulane University, she was a classical violinist in the Tulane Symphony Orchestra throughout all her semesters. Joanna’s professional interests center around marketing, communications, social media management, event programming, and arts education.

Lonnie Woods III on Transitioning to Faculty Position Leading ARAD’s Practicum in Arts Administration and Internship Courses

ARAD’s beloved Professional Development Coordinator, Lonnie Woods III, is transitioning to a new and exciting faculty position leading the Practicum in Arts Administration and then the Internship course. We spoke to Lonnie about the Practicum class that first-year ARAD students will be taking with him, including his vision for the course and the lessons he’d like students to walk away with. You can also learn more about Lonnie here!

What makes you passionate about professional development? 

Believe it or not, editing resumes for myself and my friends in college sparked my love for professional development. As a trained visual artist, I see constructive critique, creating, editing and formatting as an artform; those same principles apply to professional development. I am passionate about professional development because so much of it is about discovering who you are and making room for new versions of yourself. The professional work that we do is often a reflection of who we are (at least I think it should be that way). Each time we make a career change, we are making a life change, which translates to this exciting opportunity to curate and repackage yourself. I find the repackaging process exhilarating but I realize that it makes many people nervous. I get to be the person who helps students to calm those nerves and put their dreams into a plan.

What can students expect from the 8-session practicum they’ll be taking with you in their first semester of the program?

Students can expect to learn the tools and resources needed to create and execute a personal career plan in the arts. Students can expect to learn about essential career related topics such as professional relationship building, negotiation, job search techniques, personal branding, and career options within the arts field.

How does your class dovetail with the internship component of the ARAD curriculum?

In this course, students apply what they learn in their other ARAD courses to their individual career goals. Practicum in Arts Administration will prepare students for the internship search and hiring process as well as give them the tools and resources needed to equip and empower them to choose the internship and career path that will best align with their goals. 

What are you most looking forward to in starting this position?

I am looking forward to meeting the new students! The main reason that I work in academia is because I genuinely enjoy supporting students. I also look forward to sharing space with the future generation of folks who will go on to impact the arts industry in a powerful way. I look forward to helping students streamline their visions and dreams into a plan that they can execute and update throughout their time in the program and beyond.

What are the biggest lessons you’d like students to take away from your class?

  1. Choose collaboration over competition; network across as well as up. Your success does not always surround your ability to climb the ladder. Your success partner may be sitting right next to you in class.
  2. Your career plan is your own. You have the ability to edit, re-write or completely change your career story at any given time.

BIO

Professor Lonnie Woods III is a student affairs administrator, educator, and professional development practitioner whose research examines the career competencies of college students studying arts related majors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Fine Art Photography from Towson University and a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University (NYU).  Lonnie serves as an Arts Career Consultant, College Readiness Specialist and Teaching Artist  and has collaborated with world renowned arts organizations such as: The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Whitney Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian Museum of American History, The Studio Museum of Harlem and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Catching Up With Alums Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20)

Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20) are recent TC graduates. Megan is currently the Administrative Manager at Juilliard Preparatory Division, and Mari Takeda is currently the Donor Relationships Manager at Baltimore Center Stage. For this blog, they caught up with each other on what they’ve been up to since graduation. 

Continue reading “Catching Up With Alums Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20)”

Meet Melissa Weisberg, ARAD’s New Social Media Manager

ARAD is delighted to welcome Melissa Weisberg (ARAD ’20) as our new Social Media Manager. Learn more about Melissa, her goals for her new role, and what she’s been up to since graduation.

Continue reading “Meet Melissa Weisberg, ARAD’s New Social Media Manager”

Student Spotlight: Jessica Isgro

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Jessica is a Student Mentor for 2016-17

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 Lincoln Center, 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.

What attracted you to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University? Initially, I was attracted to the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University for its strong, well-rounded curriculum. Additionally, as I interned with various arts organizations, I met many program graduates who passionately detailed the profound impact the program had on the development of their professional abilities.

How are your studies helping to advance your career goals? My studies in the ARAD program have helped me develop and fortify skills that are vital in the field while simultaneously allowing me to pursue my own interests. The strong curriculum makes room for self-directed learning pursuits, allowing ARAD students to develop skills that will allow them to become arts leaders.

Describe student life as a member of the ARAD community. There is never a dull moment for a student in the ARAD community, and our relationships as students extend well beyond the classroom. Within my first semester of the program, my peers and I attended music performances, art exhibitions, sporting events, Student Advocates for the Arts meetings, guest lectures, networking events, and countless restaurants. The ARAD community actively seeks varied and interesting experiences in New York City, both within and beyond the arts scene.