Reflections on Teaching for 28 Years at NYU

Photo credit: Nichole Washington

August 14, 2022–I got the idea to pitch a course to teach at New York University while working at the Public Theater. NYU was just a block away and it just made sense to offer real-life marketing strategies to college students studying to become arts administrators. I was delighted when the university agreed with my idea.

Since 1994, I have taught a variety of courses, including Marketing the Arts; Cultural Tourism; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts and Community, and Community Engagement for Multicultural Arts Organizations. The curriculum I created has evolved over the years. Sometimes it features guest speakers from around the country, or in-person field trips to local arts organizations of color. I have want my students to learn from leading thinkers; to see first-hand the challenges that must be overcome to develop and sustain diverse audiences, as well as learn how to become change-making arts administrators.

I currently teach courses in two departments at NYU—for the graduate students in the department of arts administration at NYU’s Steinhardt and the School of Professional Studies, where arts professionals are seeking advanced training and learning opportunities.

The classes and coursework are rigorous. There are lectures, lots of reading, in-classroom discussions, and outside assignments. Both courses conclude with a two-part final exam—an in-class presentation, as well as written community engagement or ED&I plan. I am in awe of how hard the students work in these classes, and I applaud them for their diligence and commitment.

I come from a long line of educators, and it is both organic and comfortable for me. I also love being in the classroom, which I refer to as our laboratory—a safe space for positing new ideas without judgement.

When I received the congratulatory letter from the Dean of the department, I was shocked to learn that 28 years had flown by so quickly. It has been an honor to teach students from around the world. Many of them continue to keep in touch or seek my consultancy services for their arts organizations.

Readers of Arts & Culture Connections know that teaching and mentoring are my passions; it is my responsibility to ensure that future generations of arts administrators continue to work towards the establishment of anti-racist arts organizations that are both vital and vibrant pillars of the communities they serve.

For the next decade or so, I will continue to encourage my students to be forward-thinking, future-oriented trailblazers, whose trademarks are the spirit of innovation, equity, diversity and inclusion wherever they work.

As always, I want to know what you think. I invite you to share your thoughts or comments below. Who is the teacher that had the greatest influence in your life and why? Or if you are a teaching artist or teaching arts administrator, why is it important to you?

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