Report-out on Arts Internship Alumni Event


Los Angeles County Arts Commission and The Getty Foundation Host a Leadership Event for Arts Intern Alumni



On Monday, May 4, over thirty emerging arts professionals gathered at Cathedral Plaza for an interactive leadership seminar led by Claudine Brown, the Program Director for Arts and Culture from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.  In attendance were former interns from the Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program and the Getty Multicultural Internship Program.  

The Getty Foundation's program began in 1993, the County's in 1999, so many of the former interns are already in management positions in Los Angeles area arts organizations.  Ms. Brown asked everyone to introduce themselves, and I was amazed by the variety of organizations represented in the room, from LACMA and the Skirball to grassroots community organizations and small theatre companies.  

claudine brown
The morning began with great welcome speeches from Getty Foundation Director Deborah Marrow and Los Angeles County Arts Commission Executive Director Laura Zucker.  Ms. Brown then took the podium.  She's a leader in arts advocacy, arts policy and cultural research, with an amazing track record of accomplishments for foundations, museums and organizations such as the Art and Social Justice Funders Working Group, which she also founded.  She's been a board member for many prestigious organizations, including the National Museum of African American History and Grantmakers in the Arts.  As we found out at yesterday's meeting, she's an excellent teacher.

Photo by Ed KriegerMs. Brown led us through several exercises designed to identify our organizational culture, the management and power styles of our supervisors and our own leadership opportunities.  Using terminology and quotations culled from sources such as Jim Collins' acclaimed Good to Great, Brown encouraged us to identify our own organizations' attributes to better understand how we can work within the culture of our organization.  We were able to identify how we could act as empowered and effective leaders within the culture and structure of our individual organizations.

As with all Los Angeles County Arts Commission functions (LACAC took on the planning responsibilities for the event), the Arts Intern Alumni event was professional, enjoyable and extremely helpful to me as an emerging arts leader who still reaps the benefits from my 2004 internship on a daily basis. I felt that I could apply the seminar to both of my jobs (Development Director for Circle X Theatre and Constituent Manager for Arts for LA), as the techniques Ms. Brown showed us for analyzing and navigating organizational culture can be applied to any organization.

Director of Grants and Professional Development Emiko Ono indicated that this event was the first of many professional development opportunities for former interns. If you are an alumni of this great program and you did not receive an invitation to the May 4th event, please contact Angela Gaspar Milanovic to update your contact information.

Photo by Ed KriegerAs a young arts management professional, I appreciate the County's commitment to workforce development.  Five years after my internship, I was able to attend a completely free event with a world-class facilitator geared toward helping me excel in my current position.  Along with 33 other young management professionals, I received training that will help me excel in the Los Angeles cultural sector. 

I decided to stay in Los Angeles after graduating from college largely because of the introduction to arts management that my internship gave me, and I've been a fierce advocate for the program ever since.  In 2004, I was hired as the Development Intern for Circle X Theatre Company.  The job allowed me to rent an apartment and pay my bills while learning the ins and outs of arts management.  In my undergraduate theatre program, Arts Management was taught along with Sound and Stage Management in the Technical Theatre Course: three lean introductory weeks was all Claremont Colleges students received of Arts Management instruction.  Like many other arts interns, I went into my internship unaware of the job opportunities within this growing and vital field. Before my internship, I would never have dreamed I'd be pursuing a Master's from CGU/The Drucker School in Arts Management, or that I would someday work in a 21-story office building in downtown LA.  The internship opened doors to a career I didn't know existed.

InternsI stayed on post-internship as a volunteer Development Associate, and when their Development Director got pregnant and moved away, I stepped in as the "temporary" Development Director.  In 2007, we began receiving funding for this position, and I'm happy to say I'm still with the organization that hired me back in 2004... making my Development Internship probably the longest one in the history of the program.  I've been a supervisor for the past few years and take great pride in the fact that seven former interns are still active Circle X company members residing and working in Los Angeles (six in the arts and one as a nonprofit grantwriter).  

Unfortunately, the County's Arts Internship program is currently slated for elimination in the 09/10 budget cycle.  We must spread the word that this program creates jobs, provides invaluable management training and leads to a stronger, more creative Los Angeles workforce.  I encourage you to check out Arts for LA's advocacy group for the intern program at  This summer, we'll be working on restoring funding for this critical program.  See how you can help at the action center.

Special thanks to Crystal Diaz, Angela Gaspar Milanovic, Emiko Ono, Getty Foundation Program Officer Angie Kim and everyone at the Arts Commission for yesterday's excellent Arts Intern Alumni Event.  I'm looking forward to the next one!