To educate or not to educate.

Will more education help my career in arts administration?

This is a question I recently came across via a LinkedIn Group that I follow, “Arts Administration Network.” – I highly recommend this group for any fellow arts administrators out there.

I have pondered this question for myself for the past few years. There is no question that more education is better education, however, I find myself torn between immersing myself in real-world experiences, which has been invaluable to my development thus far, versus spending 1-2 years out of the field. Ultimately, I will pursue a higher degree of education, but came to conclusion that it is now more beneficial to face the daily life of a non-profit arts administrator. I like to thoroughly know what I am up against before I delve deep into the theory of it!

This thinking led me to respond to the question and the realization that I am already engaging in higher learning.  I didn’t even know it! Here is my response to Linda:

“In my experience, staying active in the local arts community by volunteering, attending events (both performance and networking) as well as attending free and low-cost seminars or courses on Arts Administration is what I accredit to landing my current position as an arts administrator. Grad school is definitely something that I want to include in my future career development, however, now it makes more sense for me to gain in-the-field experience.

There are a ton of resources out there depending on the area you live in. Places that I have looked to for low-cost educational courses are Salesforce/Vertical Reponse/Constant Contact webinars, The Foundation Center has a ton of great and inexpensive courses, your local Chamber of Commerce may have some interesting business training courses. I also joined a group of female Non-Profit Executive Directors – we meet once every month or so and discuss challenges that we are facing and share experience/insight. This has been invaluable and I highly suggest finding or organizing something like this for your area. I hope this helps!”

Since writing this response I have attended several more webinars, seminars and courses around the Bay Area. I have never regretted attending anything, especially if it is free. I usually pick up one or two tips that are useful and almost always get free food! I have also found myself on a grant review panel for the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Grant Program and joined the Emerging Arts Professionals Fellowship Program – both great learning and networking experiences.

If I had to sum it all up: Education – really all it takes is being open to learning from anyone.