Wedged among the neighborhoods of New Haven are various arts treasures, including museums, theaters, art galleries, rare book libraries and historical archives.
Connecting to the many arts opportunities across the state is the goal of a new minor on campus.
The Arts Administration and Cultural Advocacy minor offers students career training in the arts and humanities in ways they can appreciate, maintain and spread knowledge for that culture.
It is a 19-credit minor, which is multidisciplinary and open to all students in any major, says English Associate Prof. Joel Dodson, minor coordinator.
Tyler Bizier, junior, art history major and AAC minor, says he feels understanding and cherishing the culture of our communities and the arts is especially important.
“Southern’s Arts Administration and Cultural Advocacy minor program gives students a chance for hands-on experiences and conversations with a variety of art organizations and institutions.
“The cultural advocacy aspect of the program emphasizes the importance of honoring and listening to the community where we live, learn and work.
“It’s vital as denizens of New Haven and artists that we are invested in the health of our community and its connection to the arts,” Bizier says.
Bizier says he believes the AAC minor provides students with a multitude of ways to explore their career paths and ideals.
“Southern’s AAC program is not only important to Southern students, but to New Haven as a whole. The program allows each student to explore and craft their own tailored path.
“As an art history major, the minor opened my eyes to all the varied career paths my interests and skills could lead me toward. There are so many other paths each student can take with this minor program such as development, management, operations, programming, marketing, budgeting and more,” Bizier says.
“I’ve had the joy of seeing classmates shadow and intern with organizations such as the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Long Wharf Theatre and Creative Arts Workshop just to name a few.”
The AAC minor’s positive impact on the future careers of students is a sentiment further echoed by Eleanor Noyes, junior, English major, who says she believes there are many skills that students can glean from the minor.
“Collaboration, critical-thinking and empathy are essential to the minor. The internships give students experience working with others and managing their responsibilities, and the required AAC 200 [Topics in Arts Administration and Cultural Advocacy] class helps students be more aware of the advocacy side of the minor. This creates a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics in a professional setting and the values that students should carry into their careers,” Noyes says.
Noyes describes the program as one with various focuses that help students narrow their studies to the skills that they feel would benefit them most.
“[The AAC] minor allows students to explore different pathways of arts management and gain experience through its internship program. The minor offers three areas of professional focus that the student must choose from: accounting, leadership or marketing. These concentrations encourage students to develop their skills in the most applicable field to their intended profession,”
Due to the various skills able to be gleaned and the self-design aspect of it all, Noyes believes the minor is a way to see the arts and a career in them in a more realistic light.
Dodson explains, “We started before COVID, and the group of faculty that designed it wanted to create an arts management program, but we didn’t want one with only courses in business, but a well-rounded program that covered the larger cultural ecosphere, which includes things like heritage preservation and advocacy.”
Dodson describes the minor as very direct and engaging, helping students get a better feel for the subject and their future careers.
“[AAC] is meant to provide not only hands-on training in terms of classroom experience, but also hands-on training in the field, in jobs at libraries, museums, theaters, performing arts centers, festivals and cultural entrepreneurship,” Dodson says.
Dodson says he believes the program is important for those graduating in the arts and wants more students to sign up for the minor.
“The program launched in the fall of 2021. We’ve been doing it for two-and-half years, and we have 30 students. We’re hoping a lot of students see the AAC minor as something they can add to their major, so they can have a more complex and well-rounded identity when they come out of Southern,” Dodson says.
Dodson says he believes the minor to be very fruitful for students, in terms of providing them with skills and experiences that separate it from other minors and programs on campus.
“[Students] gain a lot of concrete skills such as understanding how to mount a public arts project, how to do grant writing, how to market in the arts and nonprofits, how to do graphic design in a heritage advocacy setting. Another one of the things that distinguishes this minor is that we offer a four-credit guaranteed paid internship at the end,” Dodson says.
The minor doesn’t only tackle work in museums or libraries. Dodson says he and other faculty members who had a hand in forging the AAC minor wanted it to add to your major whether you’re in the humanities or not.
“When you think about governmental roles, like the Department of Cultural Affairs, they are doing arts work from the side of public advocacy. In how they pass policies, award grants and fund organizations, all these are things our students are well-trained to do,” Dodson says.
“It provides a program for students that are interested in the arts, but from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Not everyone that enjoys arts wants to be the artist themselves, and this is a great way to pursue that interest from a practical standpoint,” Noyes says.
By Julien Hilton Laforest