I am at the Association of Arts Administration Educators’ Annual Conference in Claremont, CA this weekend.That by itself is in no way remarkable. I’m the Board President and I certainly ought to be here. But this particular occasion is a marker for several significant transitions in my life. Before I get to those, I should mention that this year’s AAAE Conference is a special occasion for all of us. This is the first time the Association has met on the West Coast in many, many years. I’d like to thank our host Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Director of Arts Management for Claremont Graduate University. The conference is welcoming approximately 120 arts administration educators from around the world and includes plenary sessions led by Janet Brown, Executive Director, Grantmakers in the Arts; Douglas McLennan, founder and editor of ArtsJournal (thanks, Doug, for this forum); and Luis Alfaro, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and critically acclaimed writer/performer
Now, back to the transitions business: May 31 was my last day, after 28 years, as a faculty member and Director of the Not-for-Profit Management and Arts Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. I’m taking early retirement to do other things. More on those in a moment. Since I will be leaving academia, I will no longer represent an arts administration program and so my leaving Salem means I will also be leaving my role with AAAE. Both moves are bittersweet. I dearly love both AAAE and Salem, as well as the various roles I have played at each, but the time is right for doing other things. Apropos of this blog, I am particularly proud of the fact that Salem’s curriculum now has an Arts in the Community course required of arts management, dance, music, and visual arts majors and that AAAE has, in its curriculum standards, a section on community engagement.
My future is not really about “retirement.” I’m starting two (somewhat) inter-connected businesses. One will be a management services organization for nonprofits. We will do training and consultation, management (payroll, benefits, and HR), and virtual staffing for nonprofits of all kinds, not just arts organizations. Its name is Outfitters4. The tag line, Equipping Nonprofits for Success, explains, to a degree, the name. The other is more directly related to this blog. ArtsEngaged will work to advocate for and train artists and arts organizations in effective methods of community engagement. My web designer has promised me that the websites (www.outfitters4.com and www.artsengaged.com) will be live, though not complete, by the time you read this.
All of this is happening as my book is rolling out. As a reminder from my last post, I will be in San Antonio next week for the Americans for the Arts Annual Conference. AftA is sponsoring a book signing for me. Building Communities, Not Audiences will (at last) be on sale. It is my understanding that the signing will take place at 4:00 pm on Friday, June 6 at CenterStage. I’d love to see you there.
It is my hope to begin to do some traveling to publicize the book, but more importantly to advocate for community engagement.