My name is Brittany Johnson. I’m an Interpretation Specialist and Diversity and Inclusion Chair at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary. I’ll be taking over the MMIAM Journey this year from MMIAM alum John Tenny. John’s done a great job as managing editor! Many thanks for all his great work!
As I sit down to write this, I’m nine days into an official “return to work” mandate from my institution, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Those who have offices onsite must return to working in them full time. And while I’m not returning to cobweb covered catalogs, nor a calendar still showing March 2020 — I have been inside the office in the past year — I am returning to a world that requires more thought than ever.
As (insert the word of your choosing) as the past year has been, it’s provided me with a great opportunity to look back on my experience in the MMIAM — I was a member of the third cohort (2015 – 2016) — and to continue learning and growing. So, in honor of the five years that have passed since I finished this program, here are five things on my mind currently:
- Empathetic Leadership: So many arts and cultural workers have struggled and are struggling with isolation, job loss or other financial strain, burnout, having lost a loved one to COVID-19, and more. Each day, I enter the museum with the intention of creating space for those around me to voice their struggles/fears/dreams/and joys without fear of judgement or apathy.
- Anti-Racism: Here in the US, we’re still grappling with questions around how to employ social justice. As a member of a minoritized group and the leader of my organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, I’m working to help others understand that it’s not enough to simply not be racist, we all must be actively anti-racist. I currently reside in an area of the country with a large Indigenous population and have made a promise to myself to continue learning about the Quapaw, Osage, and Caddo peoples who first inhabited this region of the country. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a trip out to the First Americans Museum, opening in September in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to continue this learning.
- Community: Having been inside my home for most of 2020 and 2021, I’ve missed seeing faces and going places, even just around Bentonville, Arkansas, where I live. I’ve begun to think about how I can meaningfully re-plug in. Personally, this endeavour has taken the form of a podcast. A great friend and colleague and I are in the final planning stages for what will be a community-focused podcast. Stay tuned for more details and our first episode!
- Professional Growth: Similar to Agnese Cazzavillan, a more recent MMIAM graduate whose interview you’ll read later in this issue, I’ve been exploring opportunities to expand my network and grow as an arts leader. I’ve been questioning what possibilities exist and how to take advantage of them. I’ve recently completed a yearlong mentorship through a program called Arts Administrators of Color. Through this program, I met with a cohort of other professionals monthly and with my own mentor, Julia, twice per month. Julia actually lives and works in Toronto. An oddly satisfying outcome of the pandemic has been the opportunity to work with and get to know people living and working all over the country; something that would have been significantly more difficult if it weren’t for a global pandemic forcing us to conduct our every interaction via Zoom.
- Travel! I mean…c’mon, I wouldn’t have joined the MMIAM if I weren’t interested in arts, culture, AND seeing the world. I can’t wait until it feels comfortable to get back out there. Where should I visit first? Why don’t you send me your suggestions?
I’m looking forward to exploring the state of arts leadership with you over the next year. If you’d like to get to know more about me, you can read my own interview for the MMIAM Journey and/or reach out via Linkedin or email! I’m always eager to chat with former, current, and/or future MMIAMs.
Until next time!
About the MMIAM Journey
Welcome to The MMIAM Journey, a blog about the Master of Management in International Arts Management program. Every month, I’ll share the academic and personal experiences of MMIAM alumni and interview members of our International Advisory Committee and faculty about their projects, research and perspectives.
As an added bonus, I’ll publish a summary of a research article or company profile from HEC’s International Journal of Arts Management. I hope you enjoy learning more about this unique program and reading about the challenges and trends we are seeing in the field of arts management around the world today.