What I’ve Learned From EAL/LA
Effective community engagement is not an add-on activity to be carried out by a designated “engager.” To be successful, community engagement must be an essential element of virtually every aspect of an arts organization’s work: programming, development, marketing, even governance. It is important to structure and implement engagement activities so that they reflect a whole-organizat
This workshop will consider what community engagement is (including how it differs from traditional marketing and audience engagement), how organizational functions can be re-imagined with a community engagement perspective, and present examples of deep engagement in the work of arts organizations. The most significant element of the session will be a dialogue among attendees about how an engagement focus might be implemented in each division of their organization.
This is Emerging Arts Leaders / Los Angeles. Our Membership/Marketing and Communications teams have worked together to complie data and create this image representing the membership of EAL/LA. The data show some interesting trends and gives insight into areas of need and interest for the future of EAL/LA.
Certain trend are apparent in each of the demographic fields. A quick glance shows that the majority of EAL/LA members are 21-39 year old. Most of the members are female and the largest subset for race is white. The majority are employed full time and an overwhelming number of members have a degree or an advanced degree. The average salary for these members ranges from 20-45 thousand dollars per year. The data also shows that EAL/LA is an inclusive organization. The range in age, gender, nationality and race, and education and income levels offers insight into the inclusive policies of our organization. Member statistics are also reflective of the arts management field in general, cementing the reality that national arts sector jobs are largely held by white women with degrees.
What does this information mean for EAL/LA? It provides insight into what we are made of, giving direction for future programming and membership growth. It also points to areas where we need to improve. The Leadership Council is concerned with broadening the race and gender audience of EAL/LA and becoming more reflective of the breadth of diversity in Los Angeles. The data and graphics also provide talking points for explaining what EAL/LA is, who it serves, and what functions it provides. With this tool, the Leadership Council and members can say that EAL/LA is an organization that provides opportunities for Professional Development for the arts sector in Los Angeles. The Demographics include a wide range of diversity but are reflective of national trends in the field. Having a cool graphic to use as a discussion point is a bonus.
It should be remarked, EAL/LA provides a wide range of professional development and networking activities throughout the year. The two Creative Conversations book end the Fall and Spring seasons with their full day lectures and workshops while the rest of the year is filled with organizational committee meetings, workshops based on departments, resume roundtables, and a glut of Social Media interactions. All of the committees accept volunteer membership throughout the year and provide opportunities for members to become as involved as they would like to be in EAL/LA.
The Leadership Council encourages all of our members and future members (sign up for free membership here at ealla.org) to engage and help shape the organization. The full complement of department chairs will be “emerging” this year, requiring an election of new co-chairs for each seat. Join a department to learn more and provide yourself with opportunities for professional growth.
|Good Luck Bar
1514 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
$5 beer; $10 delicious theme cocktails
Are you looking for a way to get more involved? You’re invited to apply for a position on the EAL/LA Leadership Council!
July 18, 2012 - Deadline for applicants
July 19, 2012 - Election opens on ealla.org
August 1, 2012 – Election closes
August 4, 2012 - Co-Chair terms announced
EAL/LA Leadership Council Application 2012 [click to download]
Curriculum Vitae and/or Resume
Applications will be reviewed by current LC members. Once applicants are approved, candidates personal statement will be posted on ealla.org.
EAL/LA creates an atmosphere that is conducive to information sharing and generational leadership succession. We’re emerging arts leaders so the idea is that we expect our own leaders to eventually “emerge”.
In order to do so, we’ve created a Leadership Council (LC) that is chaired by our more seasoned members. The Chairs will aid in orienting new leaders over the course of a one-year period. During this period, the Chairs preserve institutional knowledge and ensure the sustainability of EAL/LA by working closely with and developing the Co-Chairs. As the Chairs “emerge” or transition from the network, the Co-Chairs progress into the Chairs role and a new group of Co-Chairs is elected from the networks general membership.
The Co-Chairs are expected to meet monthly with the LC and with partnered Chair on an as needed basis. Each Chair/Co-Chair committee is expected to provide a short update to the LC to document the committee’s progress.
The Co-Chair helps the Development Chair in creating strategies for resource development and implementing fundraising activities for EAL/LA during his or her term. The Chair and Co-Chair will work with Executive Chair/Co-Chair and Leadership Council to identify priority funding areas and coordinate with the Development work group/committee to seek funding for these areas. The Development Chair and Co-Chair will maintain the relationship with current funder while also seeking support from other sources. They will research and apply for grants and other sources of revenue, and implement action items to make progress toward the fulfillment of Strategic Planning goal #3- resource development. The Development Chair and Co-Chair may also work with Membership Chairs to coordinate a paid membership program if one should be started.
The Development Co-Chair should be ready to dive into fundraising activities for EAL/LA; a person who works well with a team and also takes initiative to research and brainstorm possible sources of revenue independently. Familiarity with fundraising practices is helpful. Most importantly, the Development Co-chair should be passionate about the goals, activities, and mission of EAL/LA.
This is a two-year term: one year as Development Co-Chair (2012-2013), followed by one year as Development Chair (2013-2014).
Marketing & Membership Co-Chair
The Marketing & Membership Co-Chair will assist the Chair in writing, editing, and distributing all promotional based materials for EAL/LA including, but not limited to press releases, e-blasts, and ad copy. The Co-Chair will contribute towards building and maintaining a social media based promotions plan to increase membership presence on EAL/LA’s website through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as take the lead in maintaining content and communications on those sites. Additionally, the Co-Chair will oversee the creation and organization of press and listings contact sheets, as well as help manage all field related vendor relationships. The Marketing and Membership team will establish cohesive membership development plan and solidify membership communication strategies to ensure more effective distribution of information. The Co-Chair will assist in the creation of membership materials and will work closely with the Chair and the Programming Team for all Special Events and with the Development Team to identify funding partners to establish a membership benefits program.
The ideal candidate will have excellent writing and communications skills, as well as a willingness to learn negotiation skills. Additionally, the Co-Chair must prove detail-oriented and have an ability to manage multiple projects efficiently and ensure their timely execution. No previous marketing or development experience is required, but is preferred.
This is a two-year term: one year as Marketing & Membership Co-Chair (2012-2013), followed by one year as Marketing & Membership Chair (2013-2014).
As a voting member, the ALM will also attend monthly Leadership Council meetings, participate in online discussions, and work with various Chairs on projects, as available.
Los Angeles, CA—On Saturday, April 21, Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles (EAL/LA) will host a day-long Creative Conversation conference, entitled “Lessons from Social Entrepreneurs: How to Add Value to Your Organization and Career” at the Plaza de la Raza (3540 N Mission Rd, Los Angeles, 90031). The day’s events will start at 10:15am and conclude at 3:30pm. Tickets are $20.
April’s Creative Conversation will allow for entrepreneurs to share insights with Emerging Leaders as to how to identify unmet needs in communities and organizations and shape their work to meet those needs. The day is designed to explore challenges the speakers have faced and the creative and logistical know-how they drew upon to face them. Speakers include keynote Terence McFarland, Chief Executive Office, LA Stage Alliance and panelists Edgar Arceneaux, Executive Director of the Watts Tower Project; Nonprofit Consultant Judy Tatum; Rebecca Ansert, Founder & Principal, Green Public Art Consultancy; and Molly Cleator, Owner/Founder, A Place to Create.
Established in 2004 by Americans for the Arts, Creative Conversations are local Emerging Arts Leaders gatherings across the country that intend to raise the profiles of the arts in the United States during National Arts and Humanities Month. Due to the tremendous interest in Creative Conversations and to meet the organization’s mission of providing professional development opportunities to its membership, EAL/LA has grown Creative Conversations to include two day- long events per year.
The April 2012 EAL/LA Creative Conversation encourages creators, performers, funders, and arts administrators from all fields to attend. The day-long event will include opportunities to network and to discuss the event’s topic in an open forum with the speakers.
To purchase tickets today and for up-to-date information, please visit: www.ealla.org/about- creative-conversations.
Have you been putting off registering for the Arts Enterprise Summit at CGU next month? It’s coming up quickly on March 23-25, 2012 at CGU. EAL/LA members get a special registration rate!
The program will be an immersive weekend where the worlds of arts, culture, entrepreneurship, and industry intersect. Interactive workshops and presentations will culminate in a case competition on Sunday for participants, moderated by Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the LA County Arts Commission. The Summit will also feature an array of interactive workshops. Certain workshops will highlight the use of creative skills to both market oneself in the professional world and help build upon professional and personal skills. Others will illustrate how learning important business skills can help artists sustain themselves as professionals. The conference will also consist of multiple networking opportunities, including dine arounds and a reception hosted by Emerging Art Leaders/LA.
Go here now to register: http://artsenterprise.com/resources/ae-summit
photo by flickr user alexkess.
Kristin Runnels (KR): Rebecca, can you tell me a little bit about the history of Spark? Where did it originate? Who developed the concept of the organization? What were his/her motivations?
Rebecca Velasco (RV): Spark was founded in 2004 in Redwood City, CA by educators Melia Dicker and Chris Balme. During their time as middle school teachers, Balme and Dicker witnessed the dropout crisis firsthand. They felt that this crisis needed to be addressed early—in middle school—with an approach that engages students who were already losing interest in school. They saw that students eagerly engaged with learning when provided with active, collaborative, and personally relevant projects, and believed that professional workplaces could serve as fertile ground for this kind of learning. Spark launched its first programs in 2005.
KR: With the founder’s motivations in mind, how has Spark evolved, programmatically, since the organization’s inception?
RV: Since the program’s humble beginnings in 2005, Spark expanded into San Francisco in 2008. Los Angeles was selected as Spark’s second major geographic focus in light of the city’s staggering dropout crisis where Spark established a Los Angeles office and launched two Los Angeles programs in Spring 2010. Spark’s program will launch in Chicago this fall, with plans to expand to Philadelphia by 2013.
KR: Through Spark, both mentors and students can gain valuable, relevant, hands-on experience exploring a career he/she is interested/engaged in. What types of arts mentors has Spark brought on to mentor students who wish to have a career in the arts?
RV: Since opening an L.A. office in the spring of 2010, Spark has served four schools over the course of three school semesters and this fall will serve five schools! Because there have been only three apprenticeship sessions so far (each session is one school semester), our ability to find great mentors in the arts has been a slower process since we are just now beginning to establish ourselves in the community. Thus far, we’ve worked with a children’s book illustrator, photographers, dancers, graphic artists, and theatre professionals.
KR: Can you give the readers of this blog a sample testimony from both mentor and mentee?
RV: Our most prominent partner in the arts field has been Center Theatre Group; last session Ashley Opstad mentored Karina from the Westlake/MacArthur Park community and taught her all about the work that Center Theatre Group does. It was an amazing apprenticeship. Below is an e-mail written by Ashley to a potential volunteer who wanted to hear about her experience:
I’m so happy to hear that you are interested in partnering up with Spark. I had a phenomenal experience. First off, I’m the Educational Services Coordinator at Center Theatre Group – and I thought, what kid has a dream of working in the Education Department at a nonprofit theatre company? Isn’t Spark about partnering up students and a professional in their dream job? Yes…and no. I was partnered with Karina, a seventh grade student from Camino Nuevo Burlington near downtown. She expressed an interest in acting and perhaps running an acting studio – but she has never acted before and her exposure to live theatre was limited, almost nonexistent. During our apprenticeship, I planned activities that would open her eyes to the many career possibilities in the arts and things that she would find enjoyable. We went on a tour of our theatres, she toured the costume/prop warehouse, I introduced her to all the different departments, she met with graphics and learned about creating show posters etc. We spent some time in Education as well – but for the most part it was a company-wide apprenticeship that I coordinated.
Karina came in a very quiet, shy girl and over the course of the semester she completely opened up. I may be biased (I totally am), but she also nailed her final presentation to her peers, parents, and teachers at the final Discovery Night event. It was such a valuable experience, not only for Karina, but for me and all my colleagues that she interacted with. For the fall we are looking to find a couple people in the building that will take on an apprentice. We will have each of those individuals work one-on-one with their students, but also occasionally team up for some group activity – like a costume shop tour or backstage tour.
I totally recommend taking on an apprentice or two in the fall!
KR: I thought the same thing Ashley did when I thought about the possibility of being a mentor! “I work at a foundation; what kid has a dream of becoming an officer at a foundation that supports classical music?” Seeing how Ashley made this opportunity work for her has inspired me to think outside the box in discovering how I could potentially mentor someone who has maybe never been exposed to the music world that I sometimes take for granted.
One last question: What is the overall response from those who choose to mentor through your program, once the program has come to an end?
RV: Based on a spring 2011 program survey, 96% [out of 55 total] of Apprentice Teachers (ATs) in Los Angeles reported feeling very satisfied with their relationship with their students and had positive feelings about the apprenticeship overall. Despite whether or not ATs can commit to the next semester’s program and stay involved as a mentor, nearly all of our ATs express interest in staying involved in one way or another – whether that’s volunteering again, agreeing to help us scout for mentors, help us fundraise, or connect us with their alumni networks. Many of our ATs want to stay connected with their mentee, and often find ways of staying in touch with them once the program is over.
I hope that you, the reader, have had your interest sparked (ha!) by this wee interview, and will find your way to EAL/LA’s upcoming general meeting on Wednesday, September 14th at 6:30 p.m. at Spark’s offices. At this meeting, Rebecca will discuss Spark’s mentorship program briefly and answer any questions that you may have for her. Following Rebecca’s presentation, EAL/LA’s own Talia Gibas, participant of EAL/LA’s 2010-11 Arts Professional Advisor Link, or A.P.A.L., will talk about how A.P.A.L. has enriched her professional development through her own mentorship.
Kristin Runnels serves as Executive Co-Chair and Community Partners Liaison of Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles. She is also Grants Manager at the Colburn Foundation and just launched her own jewelry line, Amatistrad Jewelry. When she is not kept busy by three professional pursuits, she studies the art of vegan cooking and dreams up creative ways to cut her kitty’s nails without getting bitten.
Much conversation went into deciding the most direct method to achieve connecting the next generation of arts leaders throughout our Strategic Planning during the last several months. One of our goals during that process was to further develop our internal and external communications, including the launch of a new website.
A few things immediately came to mind while populating our website checklist. Nothing out of the ordinary for modern websites, such as a blog, the benefit of sharing information that could be discussed in comments, and providing a space for us to inform our members and others about any and all of our decision-making.
It might seem silly, but in the process of making decisions on the future of our network we always kept our mission in mind.
Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles’ mission is to ensure sustainable innovation in arts leadership by facilitating and providing a forum for preparing, educating and inspiring emerging arts professionals to assume the next generation of arts sector leadership positions.
Up until this point, we’ve always communicated with our members through a variety of methods: Ning, Google Groups and Facebook. These tools were useful to our purposes as they provided us a way for our members to network with each other. But the side effect of being on multiple platforms was that cross-sections of our membership were disconnected from each other across these platforms. We’re a network and maintaining cohesion among our members was an important aspect in developing our site.
What we needed was a website that allowed us to create our own social community and not have to rely on all these platforms. We choose WordPress to manage our content on our website and in the process of setting it up, we discovered BuddyPress, a suite of plugins that allowed us to re-create the benefits of Facebook, Google Groups and Ning on our own website. Through the combined use of WordPress and BuddyPress we can start connecting our members with each other, and without the need to segregate our membership.
With our new website, comes the end of our use of Ning and Google Groups. We will be shutting down our sites on these platforms. We’re positive that the experience we’re trying to create on this website will facilitate what those sites did and more. We encourage you to become a member and experience all the benefits of being a member of EAL/LA.
Our website, will now allow our members to network with each other, join interest groups that spark the innovative conversations necessary to move the arts sector forward. The possibilities of our new website are emerging as we grow, but we look forward to the potential models we can develop by sticking to our priority: connecting the next generation of arts leaders.