Emergence 2013: A Day of Uncommon Learning with EAP

Emergence 2013Join Emerging Arts Professionals / San Francisco Bay Area on June 3 at 10:00 a.m. at SPUR Urban Center  for Emergence, our daylong annual convening.

Emergence provides a collaborative platform for Bay Area arts and culture workers to connect, share ideas, and elevate their work and voices.

This, our third year, revolves around three overarching themes calling for attention: open systems: talking diversity beyond butts-in-seats, networked approaches: the power of collaboration, and regenerative practices: how individuals and organizations sustain themselves.

We’ve reached out to our community to gather thoughts on these topics — thoughts informing the flow of conversation throughout the day. Shaking up the typical conference model, Emergence presents an experience to engage and energize. Learning will unfold in many directions, demanding your input while sparking new ideas.

From the interactive morning keynote to an afternoon yoga break to the final session — a “fishbowl” exercise to synthesize the day’s ideas and lessons — you’ll be stimulated and renewed. Reflecting the very themes we’ll discuss during the day, sessions are designed to be multi-perspective, participatory, and restorative. As a group, we’ll capture emerging ideas to inform our plans for the year ahead while reflecting on and celebrating the work of our outgoing fellows.

Register today! Space is limited.
Tickets are $40 with 50% discount volunteer rate available. To inquire about volunteer opportunities, email adam [at] emergingsf [dot] org.


Emergence Schedule 



Frances Phillips, program director, Arts and the Creative Work Fund, Walter and Elise Haas Fund
Favianna Rodriguez, artist and organizer
Ernesto Sopprani, EAP director of community engagement, founder director of the [ABC] Consortium and THEOFFCENTER
Gregory Stock,  public programs educator and event specialist, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco



Brianna Haag, SF marketing manager at Eventbrite
Emma Leggat, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at StubHub
Alison Murdock, VP of Marketing at GigaOM and board member at Music in Schools Today
Facilitated by Maura Lafferty,  independent PR consultant


Lynn Johnsonco-Founder/CEO, Glitter & Razz Productions
Tammy Johnsondancer and organizational equity consultant
Ron Ragin, program officer for the arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Clare Wintertonexecutive director of the International Museum of Women
Facilitated by Karena SalmondEAP fellow & program director, Performing Arts Workshop


Emma Bailey, Associate Producer, Citizen Film,  Co-Host, Spokespeople
Carrie Blanding, former executive director of San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
Yesenia Sanchez
coach and consultant



Facilitated conversation


Awele Makeba, producer of free performance series by Magic Theatre at Laney College
Rebecca Novick; director of the Triangle Lab (Intersection for the Arts & Cal Shakes)
Facilitated by Arielle Julia Brown, EAP fellow & theatre teaching artist, Destiny Arts Center & artistic director, The Love Balm Project

Facilitated conversation

Yoga with Julie Potter, Senior Program Manager at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Facilitated by Adam Fong, director of EAP & executive director of Center for New Music



Speakers and Facilitators

Carrie Blanding, former executive director of San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
Arielle Julia Brown, EAP fellow & theatre teaching artist, Destiny Arts Center & artistic director, The Love Balm Project
Adam Fong, director of EAP & executive director of Center for New Music
Brianna Haag, SF marketing manager at Eventbrite
Clara Hatcher, president & co-founder, Bay Area Emerging Museum Professionals
Lynn Johnson, co-Founder/CEO, Glitter & Razz Productions
Tammy Johnson, dancer and organizational equity consultant
Maura Lafferty, independent PR consultant
Emma Leggat, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at StubHub
Lex Leifheit, executive director, SOMArts Cultural Center
Awele Makeba, producer of free performance series by Magic Theatre at Laney College
Alison Murdock, VP of Marketing at GigaOM and board member at Music in Schools Today
Rebecca Novick, director of the Triangle Lab (Intersection for the Arts & Cal Shakes)
Frances Phillips, program director, Arts and the Creative Work Fund, Walter and Elise Haas Fund
Julie Potter, program assistant, Community Engagement and Performing Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Ron Ragin, program officer for the arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Favianna Rodriguez, artist and organizer
Karena Salmond, EAP fellow & program director, Performing Arts Workshop
Yesenia Sanchez, coach and consultant
Ernesto Sopprani, EAP director of community engagement, founder director of the Arts Building Consortium and THEOFFCENTER
Gregory Stock, public programs educator and event specialist, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Sean Waugh, assistant to the director of artistic administration, SF Opera
Clare Winterton, executive director of the International Museum of Women
Tyese Wortham, program associate, cultural equity grants, San Francisco Arts Commission

To see what Emergence is all about, read the recaps from last year’s convening.

SPUR Urban Center
654 Mission Street (between 2nd and 3rd)
San Francisco, CA 94105

Join our collaborative Notepad by clicking the image below


The Hybrid Challenge

hybridBy Emily Lakin

Strength in variety

My colleague at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), Marc Bamuthi Joseph, was recently featured in United States Artists’ online magazine discussing his role as a seeker and hybrid. It was perfect timing as I prepared to write this post about my experience with the NextGen Arts Leadership Initiative, a project of the Creative Capacity Fund, part of the Center for Cultural Innovation.

From my perspective, nonprofit employees work beyond what is narrowly defined by our job descriptions: we are nimble, multi-skilled professionals that do everything from setting up tables for an event to managing a grant-funded program. Bamuthi muses on that further, speaking to the challenges of fitting into discrete categories as a hybrid artist-curator-teacher (and many more hyphenates).

While it may be challenging externally – to the funder trying to slot your proposal into a program area, to the journalist trying to figure out where to list your show, to the hiring manager reviewing your resume – I propose that we are stronger candidates to become leaders if we have explored a diversity of experiences and taken advantage of the valuable learning and resources available outside our own specialties.

Crowdsourcing mentorship

With that in mind, in January 2011 I proposed a NextGen Grant for a project I must honestly admit I wasn’t sure would be funded. NextGen’s guidelines stated that the grant could be used for a workshop, conference, or mentor. For this project, I wanted to crowdsource a mentorship by meeting with professionals who are actively involved in some aspects of nonprofits, social practice, philanthropy, technology, arts and innovation, though not necessarily in the arts nonprofit sector.

Instead of a single mentor, I talked with multiple people in New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, offering them lunch as a token payment for their time. In a time when most organizations have cut conference and travel budgets, this grant helped me greatly expand my network to exchange ideas and learn new information through its financial and credentialed support. And, much like my proposal to NextGen for an independent mentorship program, this series of lunches inspired me to engage in further self-directed study.

Making it together

I’ve also become increasingly aware of my role in collaborations, attempting to make something together instead of focusing on pushing my goal as the end result. I found myself seeking out opportunities for partnerships outside YBCA that would benefit both parties. In December I worked with Airbnb, a vacation rental service operating on the collaborative consumption model, to offer a week of free admission for anyone registered with their site. It was a boost for members of their community to engage in cultural activities in their own cities, or who were visiting as part of their Airbnb stay. It gave YBCA the opportunity to engage a vibrant user group, and the credit we earned in the partnership offset some of the cost to host a visiting artist during her residency in April.

Just recently I’ve been working with the artist David Shrigley and Kala Art Institute to create a limited edition print in conjunction with Shrigley’s YBCA show, Brain Activity, which runs through September.

Ideologically, these mentor conversations collapsed my perceived walls between sector silos to focus around the idea of “good” business – work that is sustainable, socially responsible, and which demonstrates an impact. I find myself ravenous to find studies or projects or companies that offer insight into the themes from this project: collaboration, philanthropy, social impact in nonprofit and for-profit spheres, and the relevance of the creative fields. As I feed myself information, I try to synthesize it into the work I’m currently doing or work I’d like to do in the future.

A call to be seekers and hybrids

As culture workers I think we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we ignore the trend towards the growing intersection of the public and private sector. We are primed to take advantage of all the resources out there to make ourselves and our organizations better and stronger.

I’d like to challenge my fellow emerging leaders to be seekers and hybrids as well. Build trust and integrity within your communities as you network far and wide and hopefully you will be inspired and strengthened to move forward. If you need help starting, below is a list of my areas of interest as well a few links and the list of people I’ve spoken to in the last year. I’d love to hear from the readers of EAP’s Blog Salon about what or whose work sparks their interests, and how it might inform your work as an arts professional.

Areas of Interest

  • collaborative consumption
  • partnerships and collaborations
  • alternative/continued education
  • citizen funding
  • social practice

Some things to read

Online resources

Some interesting people

About Emily Lakin

Emily has been involved in San Francisco arts and nonprofits for the past ten years, including holding positions at the 111 Minna Gallery and the Nonprofit Finance Fund. She currently works in Development at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Emily serves on the advisory board for Root Division, and has also volunteered at Intersection for the Arts and Southern Exposure. When not hands-deep in the arts in SF, you can find her @hazelbrown on Twitter, cooking up new recipes with a CSA from Eatwell Farm, and crashing startup offices throughout the city in search of skeeball machines. She earned B.A. in Anthropology from Smith College.

Image: Adapted from a photo by jaqian of artwork by Asbestos

Emergence Recap: Collaborations in Situ

collaborations in situBy Leora Lutz

Talk is, in fact, not “cheap” as they say: it gets ideas going. When the mission statement loses its voice that is the time to start walking again – to walk the walk. And that is what the three panelists at the Collaborations in Situ discussion at the Emergence Conference on June 4, 2012, have been doing.

At the round table were Renee Baldocchi, Curator of the de Young Museum’s Artist Fellows Program; Lex Leifheit of SOMArts; and Ernesto Sopprani of The *OFFCENTER. Moderated by Julie Potter, EAP Fellow, the panel casually yet passionately discussed the objectives, achievements, and challenges of creating and sustaining a residency program in the City.

Urban residencies stimulate collaboration

Stepping outside of the comfort zone and taking risk became a starting point that each speaker mentioned when reviewing their various program models. New thinking is the key to a residency, from a curatorial standpoint as well as for the artist who will be the resident. Symbiotic to the process of collaboration is creating innovative, engaging, and important experiences for not only the artists but for the public, too.

One particular model of an artist residency is the retreat, or the intensive workshop. Many of them are pastoral retreats, where the artist resides on site in the company of others of like-mind. The residencies range from one month to longer, and are designed for the artists to make work without the distractions of daily life that would normally take away from their studio practices.The residencies in discussion on this day are not pastoral retreats. They are in the heart of San Francisco, and are geared toward not only an extended period of time for intensive art making, but also involve a commitment to engage with the pubic in compelling and innovative ways. All three of the programs support interdisciplinary models of making, incorporating social practice, performance, and exhibitions.

In a sense, the residency helps propel the artist from the solitary position as maker and into the active role of engagement with audiences in innovative ways. The innovation is two-fold as the projects grow between the curators and the resident artists, but also often becomes multifold depending on the additional artists or collaborators that the artist may invite to join them and expand their ideas.

Collaborations in Situ drawing by Todd Berman

Drawing by Todd Berman

Taking it beyond

A key to innovation with all three of the panelists’ programming is the balance between experimentation and developing a final outcome through rigorous (and fun) exploration and incubation of new ideas. Activating space is part of the final outcome goal in order to impart cultural learning, and to question the role of institutions and their “obligation” to the public.

Through a reciprocal sharing platform, the programs can become sustainable, and be resilient engines for taking risk and being spontaneous. The artist is the centralized idea-generator and the institution or organization works closely with them to develop their concept and bring it to full fruition for the public. Because of the interdisciplinary structure of the work, and the malleability of performative works, the projects can travel – decentralizing the static position of the institution. It gives flexibility to literally drop the art at any location, even exploring new modes of exhibition through the internet, and thus removing the preciousness of site-specificity.

As the round-table continued, new topics came up as the discussion morphed into its own version of a professional performance. One of these nuggets of collective genius brainstorming was the topic of a “Road Map” for artists. In asking themselves out-loud, one has to wonder about the countless other artists that are not being represented or being accepted into their programming. There is not enough funding to include every artist, so how could they help the ones who are left out? The passion and concern to do more is there…what exactly that is will have to happen over more discussions.

Collaborations in Situ photo by Robbie Sweeny

Photo by Robbie Sweeny

Collaboration in situ: it’s meta!

An ongoing challenge of the programs was to address traditional definitions head-on and find solutions every time the word “no” comes up from partnering or governing entities. Reaching out and constantly bringing new people into the mix allows for fresh voices and new perspectives to achieving goals. This drive also creates a dynamic ripple effect throughout the community. It is a continuous learning process – one that requires constant reassessment, revisiting, changing and adjusting with each passing year as the economy changes, and as the artists’ desires change, and the wants of the public changes.

Keeping artists in the forefront of the creative environment and supporting them is the basis for keeping change fluid and vital. Collaborations are an exciting, rewarding business and social model that empowers everyone involved and ultimately extends passion and vitality to the public and the greater community – it is win/win. Seek out mentors, get hands-on, dig in and don’t wait for funding to get started – find a way to do it, and most importantly talk to others.

About Leora Lutz

Leora Lutz is an interdisciplinary artist with an extensive history as a curator, gallerist, and art administrator. Her practice in all aspects grabs onto historical context, alters it, and re-presents it as a way to shift previous understanding into flux. Her work has shown at galleries, institutions, and museums, including MOCA, Palm Springs Museum of Art, UCR Sweeney Gallery, Riverside Art Museum, and the Henry Project Space in Seattle. Her art and professional bibliography includes numerous critiques and profiles from The Los Angeles Times, NBC news, White Hot Magazine and LA Weekly to name a few.

Todd Berman’s work can be found at The Art Don’t Stop. Robbie Sweeny’s photography can be found at In Gutters and Stars.