Pittsburgh Emerging Arts Leaders Network

Connecting emerging arts managers with skill-building and leadership development resources.

“Emerging” Job Opportunity: Marketing & Special Events Associate

Though we don’t often post job opportunities via this website, the following opportunity is especially suited to someone interested in breaking into the arts industry…

Attack Theatre seeks a Marketing and Special Events Associate (Part-Time), reporting to the Executive Director. Must be self-motivated, well-organized, be able to work independently in a fast-paced setting and be a personable team player.

Learn more: http://attacktheatre.com/people/employment


2nd Annual Connecting PGH

So this event isn’t sponsored by PEAL, but we think it’s going to be great. And are you ready for this? You have the opportunity to network with people *gasp* outside of the arts. Think of the possibilities! We hope to see you there, too!

Event Announcement

By popular demand, our region’s dynamic young professionals, summer interns and employers will connect at the second annual New Pittsburgh Collaborative (NPC) HUB event. Join us on July 18th for this event co-presented by Vibrant Pittsburgh, The Regional Internship Center, ALPFA, and Chinese Association for Science and Technology – Pittsburgh (CAST-P) at the AlphaLab Accelerator space in South Side. This 2nd Annual Connecting PGH networking event features a keynote address by Terri Glueck, Director of Communications & Community Development at Innovation Works, an organization committed to growing diversity in our region’s workforce.

Date: Wednesday, July 18th
Time: 6PM to 8PM
Where: AlphaLab Technology Accelerator, 2325 E. Carson Street, Pgh, PA

Space is limited. Please register early at http://bit.ly/ConnectingPGH12

For more information, please call Vibrant Pittsburgh at 412-281-8600.

Thank you and we look forward to having you join us for this special event.

Join for a drink…or drink to join?

Join your fellow arts leaders for drinks and conversation at Round Corner Cantina on Monday, June 11 from 5:30-7:30 pm! Talk summer goals and projects, end of fiscal year wrap-up, or make a new friend.

Or, if you’re interested in joining the Pittsburgh Emerging Arts Leaders Steering Committee (deadline June 15th–visit our post about it for more info), this is a great opportunity  grab a drink and talk to current members about their experiences with the group.

Round Corner Cantina: 3720 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Met-tricks! Data tools = RESULTS

Monday, May 7, 2012, from 7 pm to 9 pm
Hillman Center for Performing Arts
423 Fox Chapel Road, North Hills

Register online or call 412.394.3353


Numbers got you down? Learn tried-and-true tricks from the field as arts professionals present innovative ways to APPLY data. Four different arts professionals will share their experience, methods and metrics. Examples will include a regression model used to accurately predict attendance to performances in the Cultural District, ways to quantify your artistic impact on audiences, and practical examples of how to leverage The Cultural Data Project and the Pittsburgh Arts Community Database once you’ve entered your data.

Afterwards, stick around for an open forum allowing all attendees and panelists to explore the benefits and challenges data usage presents in the context of their organizations.and practical examples of how to leverage The Cultural Data Project and the Pittsburgh Arts Community Database once you’ve entered your data.

Register online or call 412.394.3353. $5 advanced, $7 at Door; includes two drink tickets and light bites.

Why you should care about the state of arts education

Arts education is my passion. So forgive me for what follows, but you know what? If you’re in the arts, it should be your passion, too.

Whether you are an arts maker, arts decision maker, arts advocate, arts consumer, or an arts educator, what happens in arts education–and by this, I mean the whole gamut, from itty bitty babes to the young-at-heart sect–determines the vibrancy of the community we work and live within and the realistic scope of what we in the arts world can successfully accomplish.

“Blah blah blah,” you say. “Your previous sentence is loaded and vague and like everything else I’ve ever read about arts education. I’ve heard this all before. Why care now?”

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that within the last month, an enormous amount of literature has been released involving arts education because there’s a lot of value in arts education that many are only now beginning to recognize. But here are two facts from recent reports to that have been sticking in my mind, and although they speak specifically to K-12 education I feel they are reflective of arts education as whole:

1. If, as EPLC and the Arts and Education Initiative’s report, Creating Pennsylvania’s Future Through the Arts in Education puts forward, over 80% of Americans believe the arts are an integral part to a well-rounded education and the arts are seen as a vital component for addressing 21st century workforce skills by key business leaders, why are fewer than 50% of children studying the arts? (I should note that these stats are being re-reported from other literature. To actually read their recs for what we should do in PA, go here).

2. From the gist of the just released Arts Education in Public  Elementary and Secondary Schools 1999-2000 and 2009-2010 from the National Center for Educational Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education (how’s that for having some clout behind it?), it appears that fewer students across the board are studying an art area (but this is substantial when you take into account that visual arts and music are still more widely offered, while dance and theatre is offered in less than 4% of elementary schools, for instance), and that the decline is even larger for lower-income students.

Why should you care? Wait wait, before you answer, let me ask you this: did you take art in school? Did it shape you on your path to where you are today? My answer, at least, is a resounding, “yes!”

So I’ll ask again: why should you care? Oh, before you answer again, think about this: How did you learn to be creative?

Why should you care? Does artistic genius only come to those who can afford to pay for after-school training?

Why should you care? Do you want an appreciative consumer of your art in 20 years, or were you planning on retiring before then? Oh, you haven’t started an IRA yet? Well, I guess you’ll still be working right along with me!

Why should you care? Is the rest of the world investing in arts education? (the answer: yes).

Why should you care? Are you in dance or theatre? Do you see the lack of representation we have in the schools? Breaks my heart.

Why should you care? Why should you care? Pick a reason, any reason. Add a reason below.

Because the reasons are all here. How we handle arts education today will affect how we create art (and hopefully, we have artists who have been taught techniques for how to create art), consume art, criticize art, market art, etc. with the next generation of emerging arts leaders. THAT is why you should care about the state of arts education.

[whew…stepping off soapbox and heading towards the kitchen for a beer, thinking about the inevitable follow-up blog post, “Now what to DO about the state of arts education…”]

Alyssa Herzog Melby is the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. All opinions expressed herein are hers alone and not those of PBT.

National Emerging Leader Blog Salon – Begins Today

This week, join your arts peers around the country in a virtual conversation on Artsblog, where the Emerging Leaders Network will have a discussion about Leveraging Impact for the Future.  Americans for the Arts has invited leaders of local Emerging Leaders Networks across the country (just like Pittsburgh’s) to create blog posts that focused on the idea of change by examining four major areas of our work:  advocacy; civil discourse; public, private, and social sector partnerships; and nonprofit and arts leadership development.

This week, these bloggers will answer questions such as:

  •  How does your community spark development in the four areas of our work at the local level?
  • How can our organizations and communities leverage arts patronage and arts participation into broader community-based solutions to economic and social problems?
  • What actions must emerging leaders and networks take now to push the arts sector into a sustainable and socially meaningful future?
  • In what ways must tomorrow’s arts leaders also serve as community leaders?
  • Please read along, comment, and share your own thoughts along the way about what’s going on in your organizations and communities. We look forward to hearing what you all think!

Questions? Contact Stephanie Evans Hanson, Leadership Development Program Manager for Americans for the Arts, at 202.371.2830 or by email.

The Art of Small Talk, or How to Begin Networking

It never fails. After almost any public event that I attend with my spouse, he always says, “You’re so good at talking with strangers. I wish I could do that, but I can’t.” And every time I tell him a secret that I’m about to share with you all: I wasn’t born with a special talent to talk with strangers. I have worked—and worked extremely hard—at acquiring this skill, the “art of small talk.”

It’s hard for me to recall at what point in my life it became clear that the art of small talk was a skill I thought worthy of possessing. Perhaps it started as early as age 10 when I read a book (are you ready for a really shameful confession?) entitled How to be Popular with Boys that I found at a garage sale. This book—clearly from the non-women’s lib side of the 1970s—makes me now cringe. It did not help me to be as popular as the title proclaimed, but I do remember taking away a few key points that emphasized making eye contact and asking people questions about themselves. Or perhaps my investment in learning small talk occurred in college when I was a theatre major, and it was hammered into our brains that theatre is largely “who you know.” And the only way you get to know someone was by talking with them (and yes, this was before the rise of online messaging where people were still required to talk face to face.) Or perhaps it came from somewhere else entirely.

Wherever it stemmed from, it has been something that I have worked tirelessly on because I firmly believe that small talk is the beginning of networking. It doesn’t always work the greatest. I can recall plenty of times I have left a function going, “Why did I ask that? Why didn’t I ask them about this?” and replaying the scene over and over in my mind. But when it does work right, small talk leads to big ideas.

So while I am not the expert, I would like to humbly offer up what I have learned about the art of small talk and how you, too, can practice it.

  1. Know your audience: If you have the time, do a little research on the function you are attending, who is hosting it, and the people who will likely be there. But even if you don’t, get to know your audience from the moment you enter the room. In this case, judge a book by its cover.
  2. Make a good first impression: as you are judging other books’ covers, so others are judging yours. Walk tall, look people in the eye, and a firm (but not death-grip) handshake exudes confidence, even when you feel as nervous as a clam (and oh, how many times I have faked confidence!).
  3. Ask questions and find points of connection: People like to talk about themselves. 99% of the time, this is true. So ask questions and start simple. My favorites include: Where do you work? What do you do in your job? Are you from the area? How did you get into your current position? Have you been here before? Etc. etc. etc.
  4. Break down assumptions: Remember when I said “judge a book by its cover?”  Once the ice has been broken through conversation, then try to actively break down the assumptions you have made and others have made of you because everyone is so much more than their surface appearance. For instance, because I work for a classical dance company and therefore dress more conservatively on a day to day basis, people may assume that I like to shop at the Banana Republic (hate both things—shopping and the Banana Republic) or that I am uptight and straight-laced.  I like to try and bring up in conversation at some point that I have 2 tattoos and used to play the tuba. People never seem to expect either of those things.
  5. Read body language: perhaps I have an advantage here being a theatre major, but it’s really important to learn how to read people’s body language. I’m not talking as in-depth as Lie to Me tactics, but watch and observe. How does the person react when you are talking? Is the person nervously fidgeting and possibly more afraid of this situation than you are? Is the person actively engaged with listening to you, or are there eyes darting elsewhere? How does the person act when they are talking? Do they respond better to some questions than to others? What are they telling you about their comfort level in space (are they constantly shifting away from you if you inadvertently step closer to hear them better?) and with the content of the conversation? I am much more willing than others to talk about things other than work, but some people are very much focused at networking events on “talking shop.” So based on the feedback you are getting from their body language, re-adjust how you are interacting to help put the other person at ease and hope the conversation grows.
  6. And of course, to help facilitate this all even further, go to events that serve alcohol. Everyone has an easier time talking with a wine glass/pint of beer/cocktail in their hand!

What other advice can you give about how to begin and facilitate small talk at networking events?

Alyssa Herzog Melby is the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre among many other things, including mom, wife, friend, gardener, cook, artist, cloth-diaper enthusiast, sewer, drinker of homemade brews, reader of great books, and, as aforementioned, a proud former tuba player. All opinions expressed herein are hers alone and not those of PBT.

Networking as Community Building (or, Go to Arts Happy Hours!)

The Post-Gazette recently wrote an article about married and dating dancers in the Pittsburgh Ballet.  One dancer explained the benefit of having a partner in the same profession: “I think to understand a dancer’s mind you either needed to have danced at one point in your life or [to] have grown up in a household where somebody did dance.”  I’m not suggesting that we marry or date other arts professionals in order to feel understood.  But I do think we should be open to befriending them.  My partner is not interested in what elements of an annual appeal should be done via paper and what should be done via email.  My colleagues at Arts Development Peers Coffee will get into the mud of these questions and splash around for half an hour. 

Networking is sometimes dismissed as an ugly concept, especially in the arts. In this caricature, junior associates or sycophantic up-and-comers wear their nicest clothes, shake hands with just the right amount of firmness, hand over their business cards, and with luck obtain a job offer, promotion, or business deal. Over the past year of attending networking and professional development events in the Pittsburgh arts community, I have come to see what is often called networking as something else: community building.  What we are doing when we have Happy Hours or Creative Conversations is not simply selling ourselves or our organizations to others.  We’re sharing skills and ideas, finding new partners for artistic and administrative collaborations, being inspired, and making friends.

Networking is not just for emerging arts leaders, job seekers, or newly hired former interns.  The arts community in Pittsburgh is small, but the more we seek each other out, the more internal connections we create between large and small organizations, small organizations and individual artists, mid-sized arts organizations and arts funders, the larger our community will be.  So next time you see a notice about a happy hour or a coffee conversation, go. Build a bridge that makes our community a little stronger.   

Interested in upcoming “networking” events?  Sign up for the GPAC newsletter here to receive regular updates.

A Full Ride to San Antonio’s Americans for the Arts Convention

Just b/c you’re new as an arts manager, doesn’t mean you can’t go to national conventions. You need ideas and connections arguably more! Apply for a scholarship to go to the American’s for the Arts Convention in San Antonio this June. Deadline tomorrow, February 24!

Seriously, cancel your evening plans and write this scholarship application. If you get it, you’ll get free airfare, hotel and convention registration. You can’t get it if you don’t apply.

Film Screening, Theater Night, and More

Check out these ways to connect with other young professionals in the coming weeks. Film screenings, theatre nights, and discussions about energy and immigration: http://www.newpittsburghcollaborative.org/announcements.html


YWCA Miss Representation Film Screening and Talk-Back, Feb 3rd
Don’t miss the YWCA’s screening of the nationally-buzzed-about, Sundance-featured documentary – Miss Representation!

Get a fresh look at how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to their underrepresentation in positions of power and influence. Discover how, together, we can effect change.

Presented by the YWCA and the YWCA Young Leaders Board in partnership with Point Park University

When: Friday, February 3, 2012

Reception: 5:15 – 6:15pm, Screening: 6:30pm, Panel Discussion: 8:15-9:30pm

Tickets: $50, $20, $5

More info: www.ywcapgh.org

Immigration Workshop 
Join Vibrant Pittsburgh, Cohen & Grigsby, GlobalPittsburgh and the Immigration Law Clinic for the February 22 Immigration Workshop, an event designed to help international students from the Pittsburgh Region navigate the transition from F1 to H1B visa. Students and graduates, university administrators and regional employers interested in connecting with international talent are all encouraged to join this event.
When: Wednesday, February 22, 3pm to 5pm with networking reception to follow

Where: University of Pittsburgh (University Club, Ballroom B, 123 University Place, Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA).

Cost: Free!

Register here

More information: Call Vibrant Pittsburgh at at 412-281-8600 or visit www.vibrantpittsburgh.org

Quarterly Event: Pittsburgh’s Energy Future – 2012
The Young Professionals in Energy Pittsburgh Section is hosting a unique roundtable discussion on the energy sector’s business outlook for the upcoming year. The event will be held at the Pittsburgh Marriott North in Cranberry on February 28th. Attendees at the event will experience a networking event, full dinner, and opportunity to ask questions of leading business minds in the region’s business sector after the main roundtable discussion. Last year’s event sold out quickly, so be sure to reserve your seat immediately.

When: February 28, 2012 – beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Pittsburgh Marriott North in Cranberry

Cost: FREE
More Info and RSVP: Go to http://www.ypenergy.org/en/cev/1037

Through the Night – City Theater
This kinetic one-man show tells six intersecting stories about what it means to be a black man in America today. Equal parts poetry and soul, this virtuosic feat of acting portrays a range of eclectic characters – a precocious 10-year-old boy, an overweight bishop, a college student escaping the projects, and more. Each unforgettable voice reveals the hope, courage, and determination we all need to make it through the night. The New York Times calls Through the Night “a thing of beauty.”

When: Through Sunday, Feb. 5.

Where: City Theater Mainstage, 1300 Bingham St, Pittsburgh, PA
Tickets and more info: www.citytheatrecompany.org 

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