Thursday, March 20, 2008

Daily Gazette Article (Tuesday, March 18, 2008)

"Council Starting Networking Group"
by Tatiana Zarnowski
Gazette Reporter

It's a classic dilemma - the clash between young and old professionals who come to the job from a different vantage point. And chances are, it's playing out at an arts organization near you.

The people who started arts centers and children's museums from scratch in the 70's and 80's are retiring. And the administrators who replace them are younger folks with graduate degrees but without practical experience. "There's definitely two different viewpoints coming into an organization," said Tanya Tobias, The Saratoga County Arts Council's education coordinator.

The arts council is starting a regional group that would bring young arts professionals together to network - and help them learn from experienced pros. "There was never this established model for professional development," Tobias said of the arts profession.

The group, dubbed Emerging Upstate Arts Professionals (Emerging U^P), will also function as sort of a support group for working arts professionals, which Tobias said can be anyone from an administrator at an arts center to a museum curator to a working artist. "It's a very specific world to be in," said Leigh Ollman, regrant administrator for the arts center.

The group will hold its first casual meeting at 6 p.m. April 3 at The Arts Center, 320 Broadway. After that it may have bimonthly meetings at various host sites. Emerging U^P is the upstate New York chapter of the Emerging Leaders Network in Washington D.C. Young arts council employees started thinking about starting a group after they realized that the closest Emerging Leaders Network was in Poughkeepsie. The network was developed by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing the arts. the national program targets professionals new to the field or those 35 or younger.

The local chapter will cover a wide area, including the entire Capital Region and as far north as Ticonderoga, Tobias said. The arts council has reached out to executive directors of other organizations to spread the word about the new group. And they've started a blog and discussion board at The initial networking meeting will help establish the group's agenda, Ollman said. "Our needs as upstate New York arts professionals are different from our friends in Manhattan. I think you need to get a consensus,"Ollman said.

The local arts council is something of an anomaly because three of its five employees - Tobias, Ollman and Laura Colomb - are all under 30. Executive Director Joel Reed, who at age 45 represents the transition between the arts movement founders and recent graduates, said the arts council aims to attract new audiences, including younger ones.

"We make the arts accessible for everybody," Reed said.


Jennifer said...

One frustrating aspect of being a young arts professional in the Capital District (with a Masters' in Arts Admin) is the lack of upward mobility. This problem has now found me out of a field I love working on other things, not a bad move for me, but I definitely miss the arts! Good luck to you all as you make these important connections.

Chris Casquilho said...

How about as far north as Westport, NY?

We need to be cautious to keep a peripheral eye on the rest of the NPO sector, the government sector, and the private sector because many of the issues occurring in the arts field also happen elsewhere. Many baby-boomers are on the brink of retiring, giving rise to fear of a lack of seasoned leaders in many professions. At the same time, many young professionals of all stripes perceive a lack of quality opportunities in their field.