Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles Creative Conversations April 2012 Testimonial
Stephanie Stallings, Musicologist; Director, Arts Diplomacy Network
As a recent transplant from Washington, D.C., I was alone in a new city, one person with few connections in a sea of established arts professionals. A new friend introduced me to Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles. I found them online and discovered that there was something called a Creative Conversations event scheduled, serendipitously, for the following Saturday.
While I wasn’t expecting a program entitled Lessons from Social Entrepreneurs: How to Add Value to Your Organization and Career to have much of an effect on me, it ended up booting me down a path toward rethinking my professional goals.
LA Stage Alliance’s CEO, Terence McFarland’s keynote address alone was worth the cost of admission. His inspirational and practical advice rang bells in my head: Just do it. Then do it right.
I knew I wanted to pursue my passion, bridging cultural differences through the arts, but I wasn’t sure how to take the first step. Fortunately, two of the panelists at this Creative Conversations event were Adam Kalesperis and Joe Quintero, founders of the B.R.I.D.G.E. (Building Relationships and Inspiring Dialogue through Global Exchange) Theatre Project, which unites people in communities around the world through intensive playwriting and acting programs. What a breakthrough, and a complete surprise, to find other local professionals who shared my interests.
On my way home and in the weeks following, Terence’s words grew louder: Just do it. Think bigger.
So because of the inspiration I derived through my attendance at EAL/LA’s Creative Conversations event, I created Arts Diplomacy Network, an organization dedicated to bringing together individual visual and performing artists, arts leaders, and citizen and official diplomats who are passionate about international cultural exchange. My new initiative has led me to meet many likeminded professionals who are similarly committed to bridging cultural differences through the arts.
Now I’m developing unique programming like #ArtsDiploChat, a bi-monthly Twitter chat that brings together a community of arts/cultural/public diplomacy professionals and international exchange advocates to discuss ways to link our expressive lives to a public purpose. We’re also examining how new analytic tools like the Music Genome Project can be used to create more effective public diplomacy.
I thank EAL/LA and Creative Conversations for plugging me into a network of enthusiastic emerging arts professionals and for creating a space to allow me to reevaluate my career path. I currently serve on EAL/LA’s Programming Committee, which is planning October 2012’s Creative Conversations event, Sparking Inclusive Dialogue Through Creative Placemaking. I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to help conceive of this topic and know that the event is going to be fantastic!