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 share their experience in a facilitated conversation, Q & A with the audience, followed by an opportunity for students to talk with the invited guests in a more informal post-event networking session.

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.

Fall 2021 Programming

Breaking into the Biz: Working with Agents and Intermediaries

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | VIA ZOOM

Listen to the Recording

  • Jack Adams ’09 | River Road Entertainment, Creative Artists Agency
  • Cole Pulice | Working Musical Artist in Oakland, CA and Minneapolis

You’ve been practicing your craft for years, and now you want to make the jump to the next level of your professional. It’s time to take the plunge and find an agent. But what exactly do you need to do to
get professional representation? And what can you expect an agent to do for you? What are the myths, and what is the reality?

In this conversation we discuss the role of agents and intermediaries with professionals who have worked on both sides of the table. Learn about the day-to-day life of working in a big agency, as well as
the needs of creative professionals who rely on agents to access the gigs that pay.

Building A Bigger Tent: Cultural Engagement and Community Outreach through the Arts

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 6:00-7:30 p.m | VIA ZOOM

  • Dr. Carra Martinez | Fusebox Festival, Austin; Former Director of Community Engagement at the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis
  • Dr. Jessica Lopez Lyman | Electric Machete Studios, Multi-Disciplinary Artist and Organizer in the Twin Cities

It has become something of a cliché to say that the arts need to broaden and diversify to survive in the 21st century. But what is the actual hard work that goes into expanding the audiences for the creative and performing arts? How do organizations and individual creatives build connections with communities who have been historically excluded? And what kinds of institutional structures enable or disable attempts to reach out or to reimagine the arts sector altogether?

In this conversation we invite two guests who have made engagement and outreach a focal point of their creative and professional careers. Working in multiple cities, across multiple arts, and within organizations large and small, we discuss what it means to be part of building an arts sector that asserts new cultural values and creative horizons.

Minneapolis Arts Connections Trip

Saturday, October 23, 2021 | 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. | Registration will open soon!

Explore the world of arts management and administration directly where it happens!  Explore and discover how an arts organization functions, meet alumni working in arts management, and reflect on what roles are a fit for you.  Students will visit arts venues in Minneapolis.

Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Making it in the Arts

Making It In a Down Economy

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

Listen to the Recording

How do creative people hustle when it’s hard to find work? How do they seek out ways to pay the rent while also progressing with their artistic aspirations? Our first MIITA conversation brings together two Chicago performers who built solo careers from the ground up, while also pursuing missions in education and advocacy. Coming from the fields of music and theatre, we discuss the challenges of working independently during times of economic hardship. How do artists find day jobs, while also deepening their involvement in the local creative scene? How do they self-market and create their own opportunities? And, amid all this, how do artists develop a work/life balance and habits of self-care?

Distinguished Guests:

Making Structural Change in and through the Arts: Anti-Racist Activism and Advocacy

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

Listen to the Recording (Access Passcode: N*smey9V)

Our second MIITA conversation opens a dialogue about the ways professional artists build careers dedicated to bringing about social change. How does one develop a creative philosophy that locates racial, gender, and sexual oppression as central facets of their making? How do they seek out (or even invent) organizations to help them advance their cause? How do they collaborate, or solicit community involvement? Today, arts organizations throughout the country are struggling to reimagine their social role—especially as the Black Lives Matter movement amplifies longstanding calls for diversity, equity, and anti-racism in the creative sector. In this complicated moment, our speakers are forging careers working at the intersection of visual and performing arts, community development, and civic advocacy. We will discuss what it means to build a professional career while also negotiating the tensions that arise when that work has political, ethical, and material stakes in the fight for social justice.

Distinguished Guests:

Where do we go from here? Making a Post-COVID Art World

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

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Within weeks, the sudden onset of COVID-19 hobbled the entire entertainment industry, shuttering workplaces, closing down production, and forcing artists to imagine alternative approaches to their craft. How have creative professionals adapted to sudden changes to their entire field? What practices have helped them ride out the storm, and to what extent have they been forced to pivot from business as usual? Working in TV & Film, and music composition, our speakers discuss how creative professionals try to stay motivated and productive during times of sudden change, but also how they continue to look forward and imagine the creative landscape in its newly changed form. What will the arts world look like post-COVID? How will it need to change to address these new circumstances? And what do you do when circumstances beyond your control force you to take a detour from a rigorous professional life?

Distinguished Guests:

Making a Career from the Ground Up

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

Listen to the Recording

Whatever your professional path in the arts, the only certainty is change. How do creative professionals make moves between different arts organizations, different job descriptions, or even different cities? How do they begin to climb the institutional ladder? What kinds of opportunities and drawbacks are there to being part of a major institution, and how do you learn where exactly your own skillset fits in? Our speakers discuss what it means to establish a career within the complex non-profit world, and shed light on the daily “behind-the-scenes” work it takes to acquire the resources to bring elaborate creative projects to light. While many institutions place a firm division between “Creative” and “Administrative” positions, our speakers discuss the art of bringing these sides together to build professional-quality creative experiences.

Distinguished Guests:

Whose Responsibility is it?: Race and Diversity in the Arts

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 6:00pm – 7:30pm CST | Via Zoom

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Throughout 2020, arts organizations in the United States grappled with how to address historical inequities related to race and diversity. They looked outwardly to address flashpoint events throughout the nation, but also inwardly to interrogate their own institutional practices.
In this discussion, we bring together a panel of community outreach specialists working in arts non-profit organizations from different US cities to speak about institutional challenges and successes regarding diversity and inclusion. How do cultural art spaces address issues of race and diversity in their local communities, and what does this look like across the United States?  What can museums and other art spaces teach us about instilling diversity and inclusion within the wider social fabric? How do they create space for marginalized artists, present challenging work to their patrons, and build long-term creative power?
Distinguished guests:
  • Dyeemah Simmons, Whitney Museum of American Art- New York, NY
  • Diane Sikes, Women & Their Work – Austin, Texas
  • Mary Anne Quiroz, Indigenous Roots – St. Paul, MN

“How to Build a Startup Ensemble”: Professional Planning for Avid Music Makers

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

Listen to the Recording

Among the many strengths of the St. Olaf musical community is the ability for student musicians to band together and create their own small groups outside of the college’s main ensembles. One particular past instance of this at St. Olaf gave rise to Cantus, one of two current full-time professional male vocal ensembles nationwide.

In this discussion, two notable founding members of Cantus, both of whom have continued in the fields of ensemble leadership, discuss the steps and journey involved in how Cantus came to be, as well as how such a task translates to today’s musical landscape. Any current Oles who show an interest in making music in similar environments to that of an ensemble like Cantus, outside of college, are highly encouraged to attend, as are any and all who wish to bring their questions to these distinguished St. Olaf alumni.

Distinguished Guests:

  • Erick Lichte ’98
  • Michael Hanawalt ’00