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Career Development Roundtable: Underrepresented Artists In The Creative Economy
February 16, 2018 by Angelia Wojak
A congress room.
Employees around a conference table interacting and out the windows is a construction site.
Far left to right: Tiana Webb Evans, Founder and Managing Director of ESP Public Relations, Lily Hung, Director of Career Development, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Melissa Brodsky-Levine, Assoc Dean, Career Services, Berklee College of Music, Courtney Echols Penn, Career Counselor, NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Photos by Zohra Saed.

For the past decade, I've been co-hosting an annual roundtable discussion of career development professionals in the arts with my friend and colleague, Robert Thill. This year, there were 22 participants, including representatives from ArtTable, Women in Animation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Museum Hue, and more. Our main theme was underrepresented artists in the creative economy. The Whitney Museum of American Art's Education Department hosted our group this year and welcomed us with an overview of their diversity initiatives in regard to internships.

We were welcomed by Idehen Aruede, CFO at the Whitney. He discussed the museum’s internship program and the institution’s work to diversify its program’s participants. Aruede gave us a deep and detailed look at the Whitney’s strategies to review and change their process of selecting and mentoring students.

I was especially impressed with the Women in Animation organization’s work. Mark Osborne, Chair of WIA’s Male Allies and Oscar-nominated director, gave a presentation on the organization’s work to promote women in the field and spread awareness of the need to diversify the animation field’s creative ranks. The workshops and networking events they are providing in NYC and LA are particularly impressive and necessary.

My co-host Thill, an independent scholar, reflected on the discussion. “The participants’ nuanced perspectives on the professional lives of underrepresented artists were grounded in both objective measurable evidence and subtle perceptions accrued through lived experience. They revealed important intersections and shared aims between all the participants, and shed light on the common ground in their disciplines, organizations, and roles in furthering cultural and economic production.”

He added, “Not only did the discussion take place within an institution that is addressing inclusion, access, and equity; it was also within the context of the important aims of Create NYC, the first-ever cultural plan for New York City."

Of course, the dialogue won't end here. SVA Career Development will continue to collaborate, converse and exchange ideas with organizations that support diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace.