When I told people I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art, the most common response was, “What are you going to do with that?” Since the arts have always been a constant in my life it had not occurred to me to justify pursuing this path. The Way it Is, a poem by William Stafford, is how I would illustrate my experience:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are
pursuing. You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see. While
you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;
and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
The arts are my “thread.”
Growing up I loved to draw, and studied piano, guitar, and Flamenco dance. In the seven years since earning my bachelor’s degrees in art and communication science, I have continued to follow the thread, though my focus has shifted from art-maker to art facilitator. I have been fortunate to work for local arts organizations in the nonprofit and corporate sectors, including Girls Rock Camp, the James Watrous Gallery, Overture Center for the Arts, Integrated Art Group, LunArt Festival, and the Women Artists Forward Fund.
I started working as the Dane Arts Cultural Affairs Specialist in the middle of the pandemic and became exceedingly aware of the unprecedented challenges faced by arts organizations. Despite reconciling uncertainty and devastating loss during the pandemic, artists and arts leaders stepped up to provide joy, create a sense of meaning and help us emotionally survive. During this time of great change, I wanted to be part of the conversation around actionable solutions. After speaking to many alumni of the Bolz Center, I knew the Master of Arts-Business: Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership Program was the perfect next step for me.
The Bolz Center has already provided a wealth of knowledge, providing theories to explain and streamline the work I currently do as an arts administrator. During my time in the MA-ACE Leadership program, I will apply new knowledge to my continued work at Dane Arts. Through my coursework I also have the honor of serving on the board of Prairie Music & Arts, focusing on donor growth and engagement. As a consultant for Allen Centennial Garden, I am excited to work with a team to research and conceptualize new program offerings.
This semester we have been exploring the question “What are you going to do with that?” – not in a skeptical or judgmental way, but with curiosity and hope for the future we can create together as arts leaders. As I continue following the thread that led me to the Bolz Center, I am inspired to bring these ideas into my future work to build community through the arts.