2015-2016 Executive Board

We are excited to announce the AAGA Executive Board for 2015-16! We have posted the Board here along with their platforms, which give an introduction of the goals they have for AAGA in the coming year. We are very excited to welcome the new Board, which will officially take office after the last formal meeting of the current Board on May 12th.

President: Carly Rapaport-Stein
Vice President: Hannah Rechtschaffen
Advocacy Director: Meg Wolensky
Communications Director: Dorian Volpe-Banks
Events Director: Clare Lowry

2015-2016 Board Nominations


Carly Rapaport-Stein*

Vice President

Hannah Rechtschaffen*

Leah Appleton

Events  Director

Clare Lowry*

Advocacy Director

Meg Wolensky*

Hannah Rechtschaffen*

Communications Director

Leah Appleton*

Ann Marie Kawai*

Meg Wolensky*

*Has received more than one nomination/has been seconded

~Last updated 4/23/15 at 10:25 a.m.

A Panel on Arts Advocacy: Why it’s Important to Me

2014 was an exciting year for the arts sector. We saw Russia attempt to ban swearing in public performances and here at home we saw threats of attack with the release of The Interview, a film that pokes fun of North Korea and its leaders. We also heard major news out of Detroit that the city’s battle with bankruptcy ended thanks, in part, to the art museum.

These stories all have something in common – in addition to being about the arts, they also relate to policy and the government. As arts administrators, these and related events affect what we do everyday, though we may not immediately think of them as being important.

So, how can we get involved in policy and government actions that affect our field? The simple answer is: advocacy.  

If youre anything like me, the word advocacy can give you a minor panic attack. A trip to the dentist office sounds more exciting than going out to argue with a bunch of politicians. Yet here I am, serving as an advocate for the arts. But why?

I have witnessed the powerful effects the arts can have on people, myself included. I want to continue to share its positive gift with others, but know that the critical economic state were in is affecting our arts programming across the country. While I pursue my education here at Drexel, I am learning what it really means to advocate for the arts and how important it is. And as I learn more about advocacy, the less intimidating it becomes. Many in the arts field get scared off by the idea of advocacy, thinking it really is just putting on a sharp suit and arguing with politicians. But the definition of advocacy goes beyond this narrow view and it is an important skill for all arts administrators to have.

To help us grasp a better understanding of the word, the Arts Administration Graduate Association will host an Arts Advocacy Speaker Series Thursday, January 15 from 6-8pm in the URBN Center 125. This years panel will feature Jenny Hershour of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, Nicole Allen of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and Amy Scheidegger of the Artistic Rebuttal Project. Throughout the discussion, our speakers will cover advocacy basics, what careers in advocacy look like and why students should be excited to participate in Arts Advocacy Day, both nationally and locally in Philadelphia. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the night.

Please join us in this informative talk and lets get excited about advocating for what were all so passionate about!

Suhee You is a first year Arts Administration student and is the Advocacy First-Year Liaison on the AAGA Board

The Barefoot Artist – Lily Yeh

Lily Yeh is coming to Drexel University on Thursday, October 23rd at the URBN Center Annex! Check-In and Reception begins at 6:00 pm and the screening begins at 7:00 pm. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Lily Yeh and the filmmakers of The Barefoot Artist, Glenn Holstein and Daniel Traub. Registration is required at lilyyehdu.eventbrite.com. See you there!

lily1 lily2“Recognizing that creativity and beauty are powerful agents for healing and change, Barefoot Artists works with poor communities around the globe practicing the arts to bring healing, self-empowerment and social change.”

There is great need in the world. This is a time when we are struggling, as a global community, to address issues that have been building for so long, and are embedded so deeply, that we cannot always even remember how they started. Hunger, disease, corruption, inequality- these issues plague us across the globe, and all we can do is work together towards their end; towards their solution. Where does art fit in to these solutions? I look at organizations like Barefoot Artists, and I am humbled by the willingness of people to soldier on, in the face of great adversity to art and evolution, to bring artistic experiences to those who might otherwise never get to express themselves as so many of us are privileged to do. When was the last time we truly appreciated the time we get to paint, to write, to photograph our world? And what can we do to ensure that others are given this time as well. As a child of art camps and community theatre, I have felt this connection to art my whole life, uninterrupted and unquestioned. Too many children are not given the time to express themselves, to surround themselves with color, or to question the world through their artistic conversations.

It takes people like Lily Yeh to remind us all that for many, perhaps for most, artistic moments must be carved out of the roughness of life, often with the help of an organization like Barefoot Artists. Lily Yeh inspires me with her ongoing work to address these issues through her art, and through her efforts to encourage community and caring through art. As so many of us do, Lily Yeh draws on her life and experiences to find the stamina to encourage artistic voices and minds all over the world. Art is not a base need of the body. It is a nourishment of the mind and the soul that no one should have to go without. The world needs healing now. It needs people to look one another in the eye and say “we have better things to do with our lives than be in conflict, in hardship, or in a creative desert.”

The Barefoot Artists organization works to “bring healing, self-empowerment, and social change” to the world through art. Lily Yeh’s lifelong work and message has been one of raising herself and others up through artistic expression and freedom. Her new documentary, The Barefoot Artist, which will be screened on October 23rd at Drexel University’s URBN Annex, with an open conversation with Lily Yeh and the filmmakers following, is a story not only of her international work, but also of her internal work, which any artist will tell you, is often inextricably linked. Our internal world, our struggle to be our most honest and healed self, is the key to truly effecting change outside ourselves. Now 70, Lily Yeh opens up this lifelong work to a wide audience through this new documentary.

Philadelphia is home to many artists, young and old, foreign-born and born a block away. I came to Drexel University to study art and artists, and find myself ever-more amazed at the strength, the honesty, and the creativity that is embedded in each of us. Not just artists, but each of us as human beings. And it takes women like Lily Yeh, willing to give so much time and energy to the cultivation of art and artists around the world for many people to realize what might have been simmering in themselves all along. When we are little, and someone puts a paintbrush in our hand and lays colorful pigments before us, there is no hesitation, no question of what to do. We splatter, we slosh, we laugh, and we live. Lily Yeh is helping the world to live, one community, one child, one inner world at a time.

Written by Hannah Rechtschaffen, First-Year AADM Student

Event Review: Alan Brown Residency

Guest post by: Laura Sancken & Cara ScharfIMG_0172

On the evening of Monday, April 28, the Drexel Arts Administration graduate students and the Philadelphia arts and culture community were honored take part in a lecture and reception with Alan Brown, renowned arts research consultant at WolfBrown, in the URBN Center Annex. Arts Administration Professor and Research Director Neville Vakharia and Director of the Drexel Online Arts Administration Program Dr. Jean Brody organized this event as part of the Westphal College’s Rankin Scholar-in-Residence program, which brings leading scholars, researchers, and professionals to campus. “Alan Brown’s residency is key to providing our Arts Administration students with an experiential understanding of important trends and emerging opportunities. We were thrilled to bring him to campus to share his insights with our students and our region’s arts and cultural leaders,” said Professor Vakharia.

Increasing participation and interest in the arts is first and foremost in the minds of arts administration students and practitioners, though the field has not yet settled on a common language with which to talk about developing audiences. Brown introduced his language of “building demand”—which encompasses all activities that attract new and existing audiences to attend, participate, and engage more deeply with the arts. During his presentation, Brown shared examples of how real arts organizations are creating new methods to build demand, something he will study in a seven-year research project with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Brown emphasized that his research repeatedly emphasizes that audience demographics are a direct reflection of the type of performance or exhibit offered. As a result, he challenged the audience to think about our individual experiences and organizations; if we wish to engage new audiences, how can we rethink the way we present art?

IMG_0182“Innovation” was a theme in Brown’s participatory lecture. In today’s world dominated by social media and online interest groups, what can the arts borrow from their success? First, considering “taste communities” or what Brown describes as the affinity-based networks to which we belong. Can the arts market directly to or curate targeted experiences for a particular taste community? In addition, Brown introduced the online sales technique called “preference discovery,” suggesting items the buyer didn’t know they wanted or needed, as a transferrable marketing technique in the arts. How can arts administrators make an audience member, who never thought she liked Beethoven, discover a preference for the composer and buy tickets to his Fifth Symphony? While these exciting, large-scale ideas open a realm of possibility, Brown reminded the audience that engaging new audiences is a long-term, incremental process.

Following the lecture, the crowd dispersed into a reception in the URBN Annex lobby where the conversation continued, as attendees had the opportunity to network with one another and converse with Alan Brown. Surely, this is an event that will be long remembered in the arts and culture community of Philadelphia.

Watch Alan Brown’s lecture here.

Interested in learning more about these types of events and the Arts Administration program? Sign up for ArtsLine, our quarterly e-newsletter.

2014-15 AAGA Executive Board

We are excited to announce the AAGA Executive Board for 2014-15! We have posted the Board here along with their platforms, which give an introduction of the goals they have for AAGA in the coming year. We are very excited to welcome the new Board, which will officially take office after the last formal meeting of the current Board on May 5th.

President: Brittnie Knight
Vice President: Mike Tanis
Advocacy Director: Cara Scharf
Communications Director: Olivia Morton
Events Director: Naima Murphy

Each position is running unopposed, so there will be no need for an election. Thank you to all those who participated in the nomination process!

Alan Brown Master Class

Join a select group of Drexel Arts Administration students who will learn from leading management consultant and researcher Alan Brown, Principal, WolfBrown.

Alan Brown is a leading researcher and management consultant in the nonprofit arts industry. His work focuses on understanding consumer demand for cultural experiences and helping cultural institutions, foundations and agencies see new opportunities, make informed decisions and respond to changing conditions. His studies have introduced new vocabulary to the lexicon of cultural participation and propelled the field towards a clearer view of the rapidly changing cultural landscape. 

This interactive master class will be offered on Tuesday, April 29th from 4:30 to 6:00 pm in the URBN Center. A second class later in the evening is possible if registration exceeds the limit. Attendance is limited to 15 students. Food will be provided.

Master Class Description:
What really happens when the lights go down and the curtain rises? Most arts groups do a great job of tracking attendance and revenues, but these are poor indicators of impact. Aside from the buzz in the lobby, is it possible to define – and even measure – how audiences are transformed? If you had this information, what would you do with it? Alan Brown will summarize results from a series of studies over the past six years, tracing the theoretical foundations of intrinsic impact, and illustrating how arts groups in the US and abroad are using impact assessment to improve programs and measure audience engagement.

Register here. Please note: this is available only to Drexel University Arts Administration students.

Nominations for the 2014-15 AAGA Executive Board


Nominations are now closed. Be sure to check back on April 28th when we post the platforms of the candidates and open voting

These are the candidates for the 2014-2015 AAGA Board:

Brittnie Knight

Vice President
Cara Scharf
Mike Tanis

Communications Director
Emily Hart
Sarah Johnson
Olivia Morton
Christina Wallace

Advocacy Director
Cara Scharf
Josie Slavsky

Events Director
Alice Anne Dolbin
Erika Gardner
Naima Murphy

Why Does Advocacy Matter to You?

This is the first of a two-part series that explores the importance of advocacy from the point-of-view of four aspiring arts administrators .Did you know that Pennsylvania historically takes one of the largest delegations to Arts Advocacy Day each year? One of the reasons for this is due to the students who attend on behalf of Drexel University’s Arts Administration program. We recently reached out to some of these aspiring arts administrators to find out why advocacy is important to them and why they are looking forward to Arts Advocacy Day 2014. Can’t join these students in D.C. later this month? Join us on March 25th as we partner with a number of community organizations to offer our first ever Arts Advocacy Day Phone Bank at four locations throughout Greater Philadelphia!
Cara Scharf, Arts Administration Graduate Assistant
GS: Why are you participating in Arts Advocacy Day this year? Why do you feel advocating for arts and culture is so important?
CS: I participated in Arts Advocacy Day back in 2011 and had a great time. The experience was not only a chance to network; it also gave me the language and tools to formulate cogent arguments about the value of the arts. I think everyone should have an elevator speech about why the arts are important, and most people do, but they often keep it to themselves. At Arts Advocacy Day, you’ll see that your personal story, when combined with others’ stories, can facilitate change at the highest levels of government. People in this field struggle every day for market share, so it’s important that we all learn how best to fight for ourselves.GS: You’ve volunteered for GroundSwell in the past – why is the work of GroundSwell meaningful for you?CS: Growing up just outside of Philadelphia and having lived here for a couple years, I have so much pride in this city and it’s important to me that I am involved in bettering it and fostering community among all residents. GroundSwell allows people to do this through volunteering and activism. I am inspired by Groundswell to not just see the issues we face, but also play my part in alleviating them. Nothing gets done if no one acts, and even more gets done when we act as a cohesive group.

GS: Other than GroundSwell, what kind of advocacy/volunteer efforts have you been a part of in the past? What kind of impact do you think it had on your immediate community/organization/the sector as a whole?

CS: For Arts Advocacy Day in 2011, I was part of a group that created an issue brief about arts and health. Essentially, we put together research and information about why the arts can be an effective complement to traditional healthcare and healing and encouraged research funding and new legislation supporting arts and health programs. I can see our work playing out in the sector because more and more people are realizing the potential of arts and health programs, and in government as the military is implementing arts programs at places like the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Locally, I volunteer for Art-Reach and Musicopia, two organizations that improve the lives of people in the region through the arts, and I serve on the board of Drexel’s Arts Administration Graduate Association. I feel great knowing that I’ve played some small part in making the arts accessible to everyone and developing the next generation of leaders.

GS: At Arts Advocacy Day, attendees are often told that personal stories often make the most impact when speaking with legislators. Do you have a personal story regarding arts and culture that you think would make an impression in your Arts Advocacy Day meetings?

CS: My grandparents have been going through a rough time recently. My grandfather’s health is deteriorating and he is becoming more and more withdrawn, which saddens us all but mostly my grandmother. Once, a couple months ago when I visited them, I put on some old Polish music just to have something to do. My grandfather’s eyes lit up and he sang along to every word, while my grandmother and I danced around the living room. It was a wonderful memory I’ll treasure forever, and it was all facilitated by a simple arts experience. During Arts Advocacy Day, I can relate this small moment to the myriad of larger scale programs and studies that prove the arts improve quality of life for the elderly and others.

Asim Naqvi, Reception Associate – Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

GS: Why are you participating in Arts Advocacy Day this year? Why do you feel advocating for arts and culture is so important?

AN: This will be my second year attending AAD, and I am pleased to be doing so as Advocacy Director of the Arts Administration Graduate Association at Drexel University. Attending last year helped me realize how I personally can make an influence for issues that I feel passionate about. This year I wanted to act again as an agent of change and help facilitate that experience for others. I come from a background of theatre – I started out acting, and quickly realized I had a lot more to say as a writer and director. This is around the time I realized the arts are a strong way to advocate for myself – it is always rewarding to be able to give back and advocate for the arts!

GS: You’ve volunteered for GroundSwell in the past – why is the work of GroundSwell meaningful for you?

AN: What I like most about this initiative is its very name – “GroundSwell” implies working from the ground up. I think this focus on creating change on a human level – on a level at which individuals in our community can really see and feel progress – translates best to change on a collective level. This way the direction of these efforts can be driven by the intended beneficiaries.

GS: Other than GroundSwell, what kind of advocacy/volunteer efforts have you been a part of in the past? What kind of impact do you think it had on your immediate community/organization/the sector as a whole?

AN: I came to the United States before I was a year old, and my genes were already carrying “advocacy” (whether actively expressed in my DNA, or reactively because of the environment my DNA was going into). Simply put, I found myself identifying with a number of underrepresented groups and decided that speaking up and fighting for equality was going to be one of my personal missions. Equal rights isn’t just about marriage or equal pay to me – it’s about equal rights to education, healthcare, and other basic human rights. To me, thisundoubtedly includes equal access to arts and culture.

GS: At Arts Advocacy Day, attendees are often told that personal stories often make the most impact when speaking with legislators. Do you have a personal story regarding arts and culture that you think would make an impression in your Arts Advocacy Day meetings?

AN: I was twelve-years-old, and I was lucky enough to be attending a school which placed a lot of emphasis on the arts. I was given the task of designing the ticket, and my first question was if I could be credited for the design on the ticket itself. (To my excitement, the answer was yes!) Upon finishing undergraduate school, I decided to work towards an MS in Arts Administration. Being able to design a ticket at the age of twelve had, by extension, led me to a job, and then to a program which continues to empower me both as an artist and administrator. I am learning to make a life and living through the arts, and I couldn’t be happier.

*Updated 3/31/2014: You can read the second post here.