Course Offerings

Participating workshop in Old Havana, October 1989.

Arts Organizations in Society

These days, all of the terms in the title of this course—art, organizations, and society have something of a question mark hanging over them. Artistic practice, always in motion, has in recent years been even more mercurial, diffuse and difficult to specify definitively. As for organizations, thinking (and, to a lesser extent, practice) during the past decade or two has increasingly taken note of discourses about complexity, emergence and improvisation in order to understand the ways in which traditional command-and-control models have become less useful or effective

 Primary questions, then, are such as: what do arts organizations do, and how and with whom do they do it? What are the propelling logics for current trends such as the interest in participation, self-organization, innovation and activism? What is the policy environment in which arts organizations are operating? What characterizes the interplays between artistic and economic forces?

Mejor Vida Corp, Minerva Cuevas, 1998-2012.

How Grants Work. 

Why do we pay artists? How do we pay artists? This course associates training in professional practices with an overview of social, political and philosophical contexts of the grant funding in the United States. The course approaches topics through a practical and theoretical lens to consider the operational relationship between granting organizations and administrative concepts regulate cultural systems. Through a robust practice of research, peer reviews, and a final mock grant application, students refine a personal approach to the ecology of grant writing.

The course is supplemented with conversations with practicing administrators from the executive director branch of organizations. The course is comprised of five phases that overlap with the germination of a grant application: Research, Narrative, Strategy, Evaluation, Final Report.

Listen to the Course Playlist.

This playlist was designed to correspond with course units to help practitioners recall and execute key aspects of grant writing techniques. 

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-1980. Citywide performance with 8,500 Sanitation workers across all 59 New York City Sanitation districts.

City Maintenance: Experimental Curatorial Models

The concept of a city exists as a site for curatorial practice to develop new strengths, publics, and methods of intervening within cultural life. City management, and its operational infrastructure, presents a substrate for contemporary curators to consider how the presentation of art is challenged and championed by practical necessities. What if curators cared for people the way they care for museum objects? How do we refurbish the definition of curator, as an individual who cares for the public in a contemporary context? Departing from texts such as Mierle Laderman Ukeles' “Maintenance Manifesto,” a study of Black Mountain College, to Marcos ERRE’s intervention into concrete roads, this course asks students to develop and analyze the capacity for curatorial projects that exist outside of institutional boundaries.

Image from visual report submitted to the University of Chicago, 2012

Public Archive

Public Archive was part of the Public Dialogue exhibition presented at the Arts Incubator at the University of Chicago. 

Over the course of three months, the public  and residents of the neighborhood were invited to share their stories and memories of the neighborhood. The oral history was captured as a digital archive and made accessible at the Arts Incubator. The stories culminated in a visual report that was presented to the University of Chicago.  The exhibition and archive explored the ever-increasing role that artists, creative professionals, cultural organizations, and anchor institutions play in the growth and fostering of communities.

Listen to the stories here.

Classroom at Black Mountain College, 1952

Statements, Grants, and Proposals

This interdisciplinary seminar introduces, deepens and extends writing skills and helps to develop concepts that can sustain, guide and propel artistic practice after graduation. Central to the class is the completion of two grant applications, followed by a mock jury event that simulates actual jurying procedure. In conjunction with the applications, students write artist statements and develop project proposals. We also discuss how the arts and the public intersect, whether in popular opinion, historic context, or professional settings. This includes an assessment of the relations of artists and audiences, artists and administrators and curators, and artists and critics.