Making It In The Arts

Making it in the Arts Making It In The Arts (MIITA) series, is an informational and networking initiative to connect current St. Olaf students—as well as alumni—with prominent graduates working in the field of arts management.

MIITA will consist of four relevant themes, each consisting of a facilitated conversation and networking reception on engaging topics that arts-oriented students might face during their careers.

Prominent alumni and friends of the college working in arts management, will be invited to campus to share their experience in a facilitated conversation, Q & A with the audience, followed by a  short reception where there will be opportunities for students to talk with the invited guests and other alumni present.  Guests will also be invited to give a guest lecture in the arts management class, which will be open to all students on campus.

Making it in the Arts is a collaboration between the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, Fine Arts Departments, and Arts Management Faculty.

Registration is not required but strongly encouraged. Register in Handshake by following the links below.

Guest Bios


2019-2020 Series

Art and Education in an Age of Crisis: Making an Impact, Testing the Boundaries

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Viking Theater
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Distinguished Guests:

  • Amber ACE Cleveland (Executive Director of For the Love Project and Minneapolis Musical Theatre, owner of ACEntertainment MGMT, and teaching artist)
  • Alyssa Melby (St. Olaf College Assistant Director of Academic Civic Engagement, former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Director of Education and Community Engagement).

We begin our 2019-2020 Making It In the Arts (MIITA) Series with a conversation considering the role of the arts in education, and the unique challenges that face the field today. While the arts perennially occupy a precarious position within schools and colleges, ever-tightening funding and an evolving political landscape have made for unique challenges and burdens on arts educators today. As previous models of arts-based pedagogy are being challenged – and new opportunities arising – we bring together professionals to discuss the evolving landscape that will greet graduates looking to enter the field. What pathways exist to participate in arts education beyond getting a teaching license? What are the unique needs of young people today, and how might the arts hold special promise in fulfilling them? What barriers exist to entering the education field, and what constraints control how the arts can be integrated into schools? And how do dedicated educators work with and around these constraints to address the pressing needs of communities in which they work?

A reception with light refreshments and a chance to meet our speakers to follow.

Building a Scene: Being Part of a City’s Creative Landscape

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Haugen Theater (Theater Building – Rear Entrance)
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Distinguished Guests:

  • Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha (MFA), Director, Teaching Artist
  • Marcus Young, Program Director, Art for Social Change

Our second 2019-2020 Making It In The Arts (MIITA) conversation focuses on the work involved in crafting creative priorities to fit the needs and demands of an existing cultural scene.  In major urban centers like Minneapolis and St. Paul, the arts sector features an immense number of institutions, initiatives, and projects with interlocking—and sometimes overlapping—visions for serving the local community. How do the leaders of arts organizations develop a unique season and a recognizable institutional identity that fits into the local arts landscape? How do artists identify gaps in the existing creative scene and initiate new projects to fill them? What day-to-day decisions and negotiations go into forging an identity as an organization, and as an artist – and do they ever come into tension with one another? To what extent does being part of a blossoming arts scene create greater competition for patrons and funding, and to what extent does it build unique opportunities for building exciting and interdisciplinary work?

Governing Creativity: Building and Executing an Artistic Vision for the 21st Century

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Center for Art and Dance, Groot Art Gallery
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Distinguished Guests:

  • Laura Sancken ’09, Board Engagement Officer of Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Christian Novack ’03, Membership Manager, American Craft Council

Our third 2019-2020 Making It In The Arts (MIITA) conversation considers the strategies and labor that go into governing arts organizations in the 21st century. Creative expression does not exist in a vacuum. It requires financial backing, professional planning, and day-to-day logistical support—for these reasons we often rely on institutions to provide the infrastructure that allows meaningful work to be created and witnessed. What is it like to assume a leadership position in a major US artistic institution, and what sort of career path lays the ground work to succeed? How do arts institutions plan for the future, and what do long-term creative goals look like? What structures bring together the artistic and the managerial sides of these institutions—what kinds of negotiations must take place between them? And how do leaders of arts institutions anticipate opportunities and roadblocks, and respond when the unexpected occurs?

All Art Is Local: Connecting Civic Engagement with Public Arts Initiatives

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Center for Art and Dance, Dance Studio (Shoes will need to be removed.)
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Distinguished Guests:

  • Sheila Smith ’85, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
  • Tim Peterson ’87, Executive Director, Northfield Arts Guild

We end our 2019-2020 Making It In the Arts (MIITA) Series with a conversation on how the arts serve as a platform for economic development and civic engagement, with a special focus on how public resources can be utilized to support the visions of local arts organizations. What is arts advocacy, and how does one break into the field? How do artists and arts organizations navigate public funding structures and bureaucracies? What is the state of public arts funding in Minnesota, and how can it serve its diverse communities? What challenges will face arts organizations in the next decade? And what skills should young people interested in arts advocacy learn to prepare them?