Articles

In Conversation with the Librarian of Congress: Leaders in the Arts


COLLEEN SHOGAN: Good afternoon and
welcome to the Library of Congress. My name is Colleen Shogan and I’m
the Deputy Director of the National and International Outreach
at the Library. I’m excited to welcome our audience
inside the historic Members Room of the Jefferson Building
here on Capitol Hill. And I’m equally excited to welcome
our virtual audience joining us via live stream. A video recording of this event will
be made available on our website. March is Women’s History Month and
we’re delighted to celebrate it with our new boss, Carla Hayden,
who happens to be the first woman and the first African American
to assume this position of Librarian of Congress. [applause] A few months
ago, I noticed a lot of innovative accomplishments have
begun to happen at the Library. So, what had changed? Well, you all know what had changed. One woman and her leadership
can make a world of difference and today’s panel is
living proof of that. Before we start, I would
like to thank the Library of Congress’ Office
of EEO and Diversity for making this program
possible today. Now, I’d like to briefly introduce
our participants before turning it over to Dr. Hayden
for our discussion. Marin Alsop is the
12th musical director for the Baltimore Symphony
Orchestra. She is the first woman to head
a major American orchestra and the only conductor to receive
the prestigious McArthur Fellowship. In 2010, she was inducted into
the Classical Music Hall of Fame. Previously, she was the
first principal conductor and then the musical director of
the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her numerous awards, she has lead the Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra in key outreach initiatives, resulting in greater youth
musical awareness and appreciation. A student of Leonard Bernstein,
Alsop grew up in New York City and is a graduate of Yale
University and Julliard. Deborah Rutter is the
third President of the John F. Kennedy Center
for the Performing Arts. She is the first woman
to lead the center. In her capacity as
President, she is the Artistic and Administrative Director
of the Kennedy Center, managing all aspects
of the institution. Prior to her current position,
Ms. Rutter served as President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Executive Director
of the Seattle Symphony. Yo Yo Ma credits her for making the
Chicago Orchestra more accessible to a wider audience through
innovative educational programs and community engagement, a model she is currently
replicating at the Kennedy Center. A native of Pennsylvania and Los
Angeles, Rutter is a graduate of Stanford University
and holds an MBA from USC. Molly Smith has served
as the Artistic Director of the Arena Stage since 1998. She has lead the invention of
the Arena Stage with a vision of creating a national
center for American artists. In 2010, the Washingtonian
famously referred to her as the unsinkable Molly Smith. [laughter] During her leadership,
Arena has workshopped more than 100 productions,
produced 39 world premieres, and developed 9 projects
that have headed to Broadway. Before coming to Washington, Ms.
Smith was the Artistic Director of the Perseverance
Theater in Juneau, Alaska. She has served as the literary
advisor to the Sundance Theater Lab and formed the Arena
Stage Writers Council, whose members are leading
American playwrights. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Catholic
University and has a Master’s Degree in Theater from American University. Our moderator today is Carla Hayden,
the 14th Librarian of Congress. Please join me in welcoming
these distinguished women to the Library of Congress. [applause] CARLA HAYDEN: I must tell
you that I’ve been the Librarian of Congress for 6 months and
I’ve had many many wonderful opportunities to interact with many
people, the collections and things, but I have to tell you, this
is super special for me. Because I have admired
Marin for a long time. I’ve gotten to be very
jealous of Deborah with that and that unsinkable Molly. Wow. So, it’s wonderful
to be with you and to have what I hope will be
an honest and engaging discussion about being women in
the arts in particular but also in leadership positions. When I was introduced as
the first African American, which is of course very significant
in many ways for me personally, but being a woman in a
feminized profession, where 85% of the workforce is female and the top leadership
does not reflect that fact, is really significant
for my profession and has been talked about. So, in my journey,
I had the beginning, not even knowing I was
going to be the Librarian – being an accidental
librarian, I call it. And I wondered how your journey
started in terms of the arts and then how did you make that
shift from being in the arts to arts management and leadership. When did that switch happen? Molly? MOLLY SMITH: Sure, sure. Well, I was interested
in arts and theater from when I was a little girl
and went to Catholic school and thought I was going to
go into a pre-law degree. And in the middle of traveling
through Europe at the age of 19 with a backpack on, I decided
I was going to chuck all that, follow my heart and start
a theater in Alaska, ok? How crazy. Everybody thought I was crazy. So, in a sense, I moved from
artist to administrator right away, studied for the next 7
years to make that happen and then drug 50 USC
students to Alaska to start the Perseverance Theater. That’s still alive and kicking now. It’s 38 years old and then about 19
years ago, I came to Arena Stage. So, I think I’m an artist whose
always wanted a home and often times when you want a home, it also means that you combine the
artistry with management. CARLA HAYDEN: Unsinkable. DEBORAH RUTTER: Great
name – Perseverance. CARLA HAYDEN: And Deborah, you
had an interesting way of getting into management from art. DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, actually
I think mine is very parallel. As a young person, I was
the beneficiary of a time when there was music
and art in schools. So, in my public school,
I had the opportunity to become a violinist, literally. My third grade teacher said,
“which instrument will you play?” Not, “would you like to
play, but will you play?” Played in orchestras
and followed my heart. Thought I was going to go
off and get some other job, not really knowing that there was
such a thing until I was in college and was introduced through
family friends to the field. And had my first Summer job, my first real summer job,
I had other summer jobs. My first real Summer job
was at the Hollywood bowl for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and I decided there was this
whole world of arts management. So, I took a pretty traditional
course in this way, but I would say that every decision I made in
my life was following my heart which needed to follow music
and I was never going to be able to spend enough time in a practice
room to be doing what she does. So, I get to support. Basically what I do is to
support what these two people do. CARLA HAYDEN: And that’s great. And violin? MARIN ALSOP: I was a violinist
of course, but when I saw… My dad took me to a young
people’s concert when I was 9. And I was getting in a lot of
trouble playing violin and trying to lead the orchestra from
the back of the violins at Julliard, pre college. So, then, this guy
came out to conduct who was jumping around
like a lunatic. And I turned to my dad and
said, “I could be the conductor because nobody’s yelling at him.” I was 9 and that was
Leonard Bernstein and eventually he became
my teacher and mentor. And he was my hero
for my entire life. But, I think as a conductor
and especially as a woman, in a field where there
were very few women, you have to be an entrepreneur because you don’t have an
instrument as a conductor. Unless you can coerce 20
or 30 people are coming over every day to practice with you. You don’t have an instrument. So, it’s all about what you can put
together and the way I learned how to conduct was by getting
all of my friends together and creating an orchestra. So, I ran my own first orchestra and
learned hands on how to do marketing and build a board and all
those kinds of great things. So, now I’m just a really
annoying music director because I know a little
bit too much. I don’t know enough
about management, but I know more than I should. [laughter] You’re just
lucky you don’t have me. CARLA HAYDEN: Are there special
challenges for women in the arts in terms of pay equity,
discrimination? Have you experienced that? MARIN ALSOP: You know that’s
such a, from my perspective, that’s a question I’m asked
often, especially by journalists and I think it’s, I
don’t know the arts are such a difficult field anyway. It’s really hard to
ascertain which aspect of what you’re doing is causing
some kind of discrimination because there are so many ways
that you can run into obstacles. And I really think that,
I think that for me, I think part of my success is never
attributing any of my difficulties or rejections to being a woman. I think that, instead, I always
thought, “ok, I have to be better. Let me try to, how can I get
something positive out of this and learn from it and apply
it to what I’m doing?” So, that’s how I’ve reacted to it. I don’t know if you’ve
had similar experiences. DEBORAH RUTTER: What I would imagine
for you and is true certainly in my experience is that
there are preconceptions about what people believe
should happen. You know, what will a
woman wear on a podium? What do women wear if they’re
a soloist playing the violin or the piano or anything, the flute? Whatever it is. So, there are just
gender expectations and those expectations are one
that we all have, male and female. MARIN ALSOP: Yes, that’s true. DEBORAH RUTTER: And that we all sort
of have to deal with and understand. And those are the kinds
of expectations that are difficult to overcome. Because if you don’t fall
in line, then there’s going to be a discussion, “well,
she didn’t fall in line.” So, how many men have to
buy gowns to do their work? I have to buy them. People ask me, “what are
you wearing tonight?” When’s the last time
somebody asked a man, what he was wearing to an event? CARLA HAYDEN: Especially
to a black tie event. DEBORAH RUTTER: Exactly. So, I think Marin’s
comment is right. The arts is a different
kind of business. And so the interactions that we have
with our bosses, the interactions that we have with our patrons, with our potential patrons are
all a little bit different. But there’s always this issue
of how do people treat women and men what the expectations
are I think that’s the part that you are constantly
working to overcome. MOLLY SMITH: There are
pretty shocking statistics in theater as far as men and women. Of the major theaters
in the United States and there are 1800 theaters
now that really started by three intrepid women which
really included Zelda Fitch Handler of the Arena Stage 70 years ago. And there are large theaters
and of the large theaters and of the large theaters, only
twenty percent are run by women. In terms of plays that are
produced by these 1800 theaters, only 22% are written by women. So, let that penny drop. Start to look at that. When you realize that that’s
happening at the leadership level, that means it’s happening because boards are leaning
more into male candidates. It means that headhunters perhaps
have more males who are headhunters. It means that we have to do
much more in terms of mentorship of young women who are
coming up and support them. In terms of changing the
paradigm, it’s a paradigm shift. I mean, I would agree with
what everybody else has said, but then I think there’s the
other piece that just has to do with statistical difficulties
of what women face in terms of leadership positions. It is that you have to be better. Wasn’t it Flo Kennedy that said,
“Fortunately, that’s not difficult”? [laughter] That was a very
funny line, but it’s complicated and I think the idea of
mentorship is so powerful. Because it is the step in. It is the door opening. Even for me, more than education, it
takes you in a whole other direction because mentorship is a one on one relationship
that shows you the path. And I think without mentors for me
like Joy Zimmerman and Paula Vogel, who’s a brilliant playwright, I
don’t know if I would be here. MARIN ALSOP: The statistics in
classical music are even more dire. I think of our programming,
is it 5% by women composers? It’s really and I’m
sure for conductors, it ranges around there as well. But, I would just jump in
to say that I agree so much about this concept about mentorship. But also, I had a recent, if
I can tell a little anecdote. I was conducting in Lucerne
at the festival this summer. It’s just I’m giving a master
class for young women conductors and an older woman in her 80s came
and talked to me and someone said, “Oh, do you know who she is?” I said, “no, but she seems to
know a lot about conducting.” Well, her name is Sylvia Kaduf
and I had never heard her name and so I found out from someone else
that she was Bernstein’s assistant in 1966 in the New
York Philharmonic. She was the first woman to win
the Metropolis competition, also the first woman to
conduct the Berlin Philharmonic. And I had never heard of her. I had never heard of her. So, I went back to Lucerne two
weeks ago with a film crew I hired from Berlin and I’m
making a film about her. And it was awesome to find
her story, but also this idea of how can we change the landscape? If we don’t do it- the three of
us here, nobody’s going to do it. So, for me that meant,
for conducting, and tell me if I talk too
much, I might be there already. [laughter] But, for
conducting, you know for women, you get one opportunity to
conduct and you have to remember that you haven’t practiced with
your instrument before and all of the information that you’re
trying to process and adapt to and adjust to is so overwhelming
and you have only one chance, so you can’t make a mistake. And, you have to be able
to make mistakes in order to really achieve greatness,
in my opinion. So, in 2002, I started a fellowship for women conductors,
young women conductors. And I bring them around to
orchestras I’m conducting and they just do the opening piece. So, it’s not the pressure
of the whole concert on them and get some feedback from musicians and from managers and
things like that. I have to say that of the 11
winners of the fellowship, 4 or now American music
directors, 5 are assistants with major orchestras, and 2
started their own orchestras. So, I feel that you know,
at least in a small way, maybe by creating opportunities,
but this is to your point, that society isn’t accustomed to
seeing women in these positions, so we have to try to change that. Even for me too. Seeing women in certain
roles, it’s a little jarring. CARLA HAYDEN: It’s
jarring to normalize it, to say that it’s not
anything unusual. MARIN ALSOP: And we’re predisposed
to being receptive to that. CARLA HAYDEN: Right. Deborah, are you doing
some things in terms of encouraging more diversity? DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, a
couple of different things. I wanted to say which is what I
know about the work that they do is that the level of individual
self-promotion has to be pretty high. And we who are the ones making
the choices along the way, have to be really open to it. And it’s really important
for us to understand that sometimes those behaviors
of self-promotion amongst, and this goes again
to what is expected, understood in different ways, is
that a woman being self-promoting, could be conceived as aggressive. Whereas a man doing that is
just doing his job, right? So, there’s always this sort of
balance of perception and there has to be the mentorship
and the open invitation. Because as I think about it, it’s
really hard sometimes to sort of cut through to see the true gem that is
there without the self-promotion. So, it’s one of those things that we
have to add to our tool kit in a way that feels comfortable for us, but that for others
can receive it as well. For us at the center and as
a manager, and administrator, in fact women are not the problem. Sometimes we need to find more men
to sit around the table with us. Because we are a mission driven
institutions, we are magnets for women who care about what
they’re doing and women like me, who said, “well I love to sing
or I love to play the cello, but I wasn’t good enough,
so I can go and work there.” And at the center, we have countless
dancers and actors and people who are former somethings
who come and work. So, internal for us, is not so much
the issue of gender, but it’s really about the issue of
diversity background. And this is something that
is very important to me and that we’re working to
really put a focus on this. And our HR team has a whole new
diversity and inclusion plan. Most importantly, is that we’re
developing something beyond the mentorship which is a
true fellowship program. And that fellowship is about identifying future
arts administrators with diverse backgrounds, diverse
interests, and bringing them into the center and really
doing the same kind of thing that you have done and
sort of helping give that extra boost, that extra lift. MARIN ALSOP: But on the
administrative side. DEBORAH RUTTER: On
the administrative, because if you don’t have,
it works in both ways. You know, if you don’t
have the leadership, they don’t have the vision,
the perspective to offer. And so, this is about having a
table of people around which you put so many different voices and making
sure all of the voices are heard. It’s a big priority for us. CARLA HAYDEN: That’s great. MOLLY SMITH: We have a
fellows and internship program at Arena Stage called the Alan
Lee Hughes Fellowship program that has been going now for 25
years and it is for young people from diverse backgrounds. Over 700 people have been through it and because we’ve just hit the
25th year, we went back to find out how many people are
still working in the arts. 92%. So, this is again, a one
on one internship program. It’s been going for a long time in
every area like theater management, artistic directing, playwriting, just about every area,
lighting designer. And our field now is
rife with young people that have come out of this program. Also make sure because I
believe every act that we make in the arts is a political act. Probably every act we make in
our lives is a political act because it’s about choices, right? And so this year, seven out of
our ten plays are written by women or men of color because I combine
that in terms of what I see as far as diversity and there are 8 plays
directed by women or men of color. And I try and balance it on a yearly
basis because I think who you put on stage, those are the
voices that the audiences hear and that’s the way audiences
start to change their perspective of who is a leader and
who isn’t a leader. So, we just keep trying to right the
balance as far as the programming and the ideas we put on stage. MARIN ALSOP: From my
perspective of course, when I came to the Baltimore
Symphony and looking at the make-up of the orchestra on stage, you
know the Baltimore Symphony has and still has one African American
member and how to change that, how to change that make-up, I mean it’s a long ranging
vision that one has to take. You have to take, ok in my
lifetime it may not happen, but the reality is that the
kids aren’t getting access to instruments young enough in order
to gain, first of all, the interest and the skill to audition for
an orchestra at this level. So, that’s when I approached
my musicians and said, “listen, why don’t we mentor one
kid in the neighborhood.” That didn’t go so well, but
the idea, the idea developed into a program where we started
with 30 kindergarten kids in 2008 and today we have almost
1500 kids playing instruments and there are 17 are now at the
high school for performing arts, they’ve been accepted because
they are now getting old enough to get to high school age. But, you know, how long it will
take for a program like Orch Kids and for some other
programs that have come up to impact our major orchestras
and our major stages, who knows? But if we don’t start, you
know that’s the point, right? And also it affects our audiences. Now all of these kids and
their parents are big classical music fans. CARLA HAYDEN: Because they
attend the performances because of their children. So, that gets to what
Deborah you mentioned, there are very few arts
programs now in schools. So, isn’t that a big
challenge in terms of looking at your future audiences? Your future? DEBORAH RUTTER: Well I could talk for the next three
hours on this topic. CARLA HAYDEN: We’re going to open it up for question and
answer in a minute. DEBORAH RUTTER: You know, I
most recently lived in Chicago and what was really interesting was
the northern suburbs had fantastic music programs because
the school districts in that area were wealthy enough
and had leadership and input from family enough that they
had really great programs. It was the schools in the
city and on the Southside that were suffering
the most from this. And the tragedy of this is that the
programs around any kind of art, whether its dance or theater or
music are what keep kids in school, keep them focused, get them really
engaged with being successful. And so this is not so much a
strategy for building audiences for our theaters of
the future at all. I am here because of
my third grade teacher. Yes, my family cared
about it and still do, but my teachers were the most
important people in my life who brought me to this place. And there’s increasing scientific
knowledge that supports the idea that being engaged with the arts
helps with brain development which then of course,
leads to school success. So, this really is a
campaign that is so much not about arts organizations,
but people who care about what it can do
for young people. And that’s my not so secret goal
is to have every child be able to have access to arts education. So Orch Kids is the
perfect example of this. MARIN ALSOP: But, we see the kids. We don’t have the kind of funding to
study it in depth, but anecdotally, I see the kids growing, I see
them developing, I see them skills that they can apply to any
discipline they select. And the goal isn’t to make them
all classical musicians although I wouldn’t mind that of course. But, the goal really is
in 20 years when I go to the doctor and she
says, “oh yeah. I remember you. I was an Orch Kid.” Or the mayor or the
leaders of our community because the important skills you
develop are the ones you need in every field. CARLA HAYDEN: It’s called
a discipline for a reason. DEBORAH RUTTER: It’s
about creativity, it’s about collaboration,
innovation. These are all skills
for future workforce. MARIN ALSOP: And it’s how they
all feel about themselves also. I remember in math, you’re either
right or wrong – it’s a 50/50. But, if you play a violin, you’re
always right, let me tell you. [laughter] In my house maybe. DEBORAH RUTTER: There’s a
great example in Chicago today, the Kenwood Academy which has
a really beautiful jazz program that has been built
and nurtured by someone who really loved the school
and the program there. And with just a little bit of
an extra boost and attention, the school and the children are so much more successful
as a result of this. We did a project with them
in Chicago and Jason Moran, our artistic director for Jazz,
loved it so much that he reprised it and reprised it and changed it based
on his relationship with these kids and brought it 3 years later,
so it was the next generation of high school jazz band, to
Washington to perform with him. And what this does for these
children on the Southside of Chicago is so powerful. CARLA HAYDEN: I know about Kenwood
on the Southside of Chicago. And the theater part and
getting them involved. MOLLY SMITH: My biggest fear
of losing the arts in school is that we lose innovation
in every field. That’s our number one power, I
think, as like our American energy, that kind of entrepreneurship. Because what the arts teach you, has to do with teamwork,
ideas, imagination. You know, the greatest freedom
we have is our imagination. And I don’t think we are taught it
in the same way in the sciences, so that’s why I keep arguing
for not STEM but STEAM. Let’s put the power in it as well. So, we reach about 20,000 young
people at Arena Stage every year. But, the one program I’d like to
talk about it is the “Voices of Now” which is ten different groups of
young people who developed stories from their lives over a
9 month period of time and then they are all produced
at Arena Stage and end up touring in different places as well. Now, anecdotally, we have a lot
of information about what happens to the young people after this
program, how many of them go on to college, how many of
them go on to graduate school, how many of them go
on to great careers. Again, it’s fantastic. That one on one relationship
changes a young person’s life and so fighting for
programming in the schools, I think is very important
because what’s happened, basically around the
country is theaters and arts organizations
have taken up that banner and we’re doing the arts programs
within our own organization. CARLA HAYDEN: What
about teacher education? Helping teachers who might not have
a formal arts program do something? DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, this is
a big issue because of course, so much needs to be done
in the primary classroom and those teachers are not experts. So, teaching artists are
really critically important and teaching artists are, come
in by contract to a school and they stand side by side with a
classroom teacher to help augment that training that happens. We, at the center have a pretty
significant one that we do in various parts of the
country and we understand that teacher training
is really vital. We work with teaching
artists as well. A program that we just brought on last fall is called,
“Turnaround Arts.” It started out at the President’s
Committee for arts and humanities and Michelle Obama was sort of
the champion for this program. And it was about using the arts to
help turn a low performing school into a higher performing school. So, it was beyond teaching
arts education. It was integrating art
into the daily lives. So, you learn multiplication
tables by singing or you would learn history
by creating a play or acting. And so we’re in about 60, I
think it’s 60, I keep inflating and I don’t want to over inflate
yet, but we’re in a whole lot of low performing schools
across the country. I’ve only had it in the program
for about 6 months now, so. But, it’s a very exciting
program because we work by providing resources to
the school, teaching artists into the school, training for the
school, the school as a whole, not just certain, in
the classroom teachers. And then we pair them with celebrity
artists who actually make a point of going to the school multiple
times in a year to draw attention to the school and build
morale for it. Bit, it’s fascinating because
it’s a different approach that we as arts administrators have had because when arts programming
started getting cut 40 years ago or more, even longer than that. We as arts institutions first
got angry and frustrated and kept saying, “well, it’s
the school’s responsibility, it’s the government’s responsibility
and we didn’t at that time go in and say, “lets partner.” Now we have to partner because
otherwise it won’t exist at all. So, sometimes our organizations
are the only ones providing that. But, we are trying with Turnaround
Arts, to demonstrate that the use of the arts can actually
help improve a school. And through that case and getting
the research to support it, then we might be able
to have a larger impact. CARLA HAYDEN: Haven’t
you been able to attract, I know withy Orch Kids,
philanthropy? Arts philanthropy has increased. MARIN ALSOP: Yeah, of course. I think that. Well, there are a few
things I’d love to say. Something that is on my mind at
least at the moment is that I hope that the small amount of
government support for the arts that we now currently
have, that everyone speaks out to preserve the National
Endowment for the Arts. It’s a very very small
token support of the arts, but I think it’s very important
that we insist that our leadership in the United States of
America, at least advocates for the arts in some small measure. I mean, I work as musical
director also in Brazil at the Sao Paolo Symphony and I have
to say for Brazil where everything’s in chaos constantly there. Yet, the leadership of the country
believes that art is a vehicle to promote tolerance and
peace among people and so even when things are cut, the
arts are cut proportionally, not disproportionally. And that gives me pause to think
that here in South America, there in South America,
they could have this kind of visionary leadership, whereas
here in the United States where it’s so integral to who we are,
I believe as Americans, it’s all about the individual, the
creative power of entrepreneurship and that’s what we’re all
about, sort of fundamentally and yet we’re not supporting that. It’s not about the arts. You know, we make it sort
of a siloed experience. It’s about creating people who are
well balanced and who have a vision. I can think outside the box. Maybe that’s the biggest
thing the arts give you. You know, whether you ever
go into the arts or not. And of course it’s always a
struggle in the United States because we have to, we
have to build support- philanthropic support
on every level. It’s not just that you have a good
idea, but then you have to fund it and then you have to measure it. That’s the part I struggle with. Everything has to be measured here. CARLA HAYDEN: Yes,
what are the results? MARIN ALSOP: Can we have the data? CARLA HYDEN: For the
full human being. How about that? MARIN ALSOP: Yeah really. Maybe just shake the kid’s hand. DEBORAH RUTTER: I have stood
side by side with this issue and the argument about data for a
long time and have come to believe that sometimes if you can
demonstrate what really happened. We certainly count
the number of people who have attended performances. We are counting the number of
women enrolled etcetera etcetera. If we can see what the impact is. The issue really is, we are
always living on a shoestring. Because you always want to
put more money into the art, you don’t really want to put
money into the things around it that might support
it in the long term. So, this issue of doing research
and evaluation and keeping track of it is one that we in our field
have really not done a great job and as I’ve come to
the Kennedy Center, we do more of for exactly
the reasons that we’ve been talking about. MARIN ALSOP: Well,
you have that mandate. Do you find though, I think
we’ve done a very poor job also of educating the public as to
the financial benefit of arts. You know, for every
dollar spent in the arts, it exponentially reaps results that
are exponential to the investment and we haven’t done a good
job of publicizing that and getting the message out
to the public I don’t think. CARLA HAYDEN: That seems like it would be very
strong with the public. DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, just earlier
this week, Darren at the Americans for the Arts program, Bob
Lynch spoke about the fact that 145 million dollars of the
NEA is worth some huge magnitude like 800 billion dollars. Not million, but billion dollars of
economic impact and so we’re not, this is not a trivial thing,
what we’re standing up for. If you can track what happens
to a young person who’s involved with the arts and where
they go, whether and how the arts have influenced
them, I think that can be something that is really important
for us to be looking at. I think the Americans for the
Arts are doing more of it, but we need to do it more
as individual institutions. MOLLY SMITH: When Arena
made the decision to stay in Southwest Washington and
rebuild, that whole program and the new Arena Stage really
became a catalyst for building in Southwest Washington, which has
been seen as the forgotten quadrant. There are now 36 different
developments that are happening there. If you drive down in Southwest, you’ll probably see
15 cranes in the air. Now, would that have
happened without Arena? Probably in about 15 or 20 years. Did it get pushed by Arena? Yes. And we see that happening in
communities all over Washington DC and indeed all over the country. The arts are real drivers
of economic expansion. My fear about the loss of the NEA,
the loss of the NEH, the loss of all of our cultural programs, is
what is really going to happen in smaller rural areas
as well as in cities. Because for smaller rural areas,
that often is the only money that they have to have
the school program which is teaching young
people how to do puppetry or teaching young people
how to make plays. That’s it. That’s it. You know, you go out to some place
like Kotzebue in Alaska and is that whole program going to be cut? So, that really changes
the equation. It’s a narrowing of vision about the
beauty of who we are as Americans. And that’s what I think the attack
is and that’s why I think it’s so important for all of us
to get out pen and paper and write our legislators
and let people know because we know pressure works. It works. [applause] CARLA
HAYDEN: I Just got my time sign that we’re going to open it
up for a little Q and A. But, I just wanted to do a little
inside scoop thing here. You can break some news. Do you have anything that you can
share with us that’s coming up? This is YouTube, Facebook… MOLLY SMITH: This is what
we don’t want anybody else to know accept for the room, right? CARLA HAYDEN: Of course. Some upcoming projects
that might be interesting. You mentioned Lorraine
Hansberry is coming. MOLLY SMITH: Yeah. Raisin in the Sun is
coming to Arena Stage. But, I wanted to mention “Sovereignty” that’s
coming to Arena next year. This is part of our
“Power Plays” initiative. We have 25 new plays and musicals
that are being commissioned by Arena Stage for
each decade beginning in 1776 to the present decade. We’ve already commissioned 9 people. And one of them is Mary Katherine
Nagle, native American lawyer, activist lawyer, wonderful
playwright. Her play is “Sovereignty.” It takes place both in 1830 with
Andrew Jackson and broken treaties and present day broken treaties
between the Cherokee nation and also the United
States government. This is a story that hasn’t been
told and that’s one of the things that I love to do in the theater. CARLA HAYDEN: Wow. Deborah? DEBORAH RUTTER:
Well, you know as we sit in this really amazing building
and this beautiful room, it seems as though many people
know so much about the history of our city, our country, and
the buildings in Washington, DC. But even I didn’t own it
the same way that I do now. Which is that the Kennedy
Center is the living memorial to John F Kennedy. There is no other memorial. There is a library and all of
that, but this is the memorial to John F Kennedy and you know,
a lot of people didn’t really… I knew it, but I didn’t
know it to live it. And so, as we are on the countdown to what would have been his 100th
birthday on May 29 of this year, we are really thinking about
our identity as it relates to both being a performing
arts center and the living memorial to JFK. And we’re having just an
extraordinary season full of programming that’s so easy to
attribute to things that he stood for because not only did he and his
wife care so much about the arts and humanities, but the other
things that we attribute to him- courage, freedom, justice. There’s one… Freedom, courage, justice,
and gratitude. And we are building all of
our programming around it and there’s sort of a culminating
week of activities at the Center. All this has been announced,
so it’s not new news. CARLA HAYDEN: Oh shoot. [laughter] DEBORAH RUTTER:
Other than the fact that, I don’t know if everyone
is paying attention to it in quite the same way. We’re bringing back open house. We’re going to have a day
of celebration for JFK and it’s really been affirming to
have such a generous, articulate, inspiring man to be the
namesake of our space and I’m actually looking forward
to an effort that will sort of revitalize the memorial
aspect itself, so that the Center will be a must
visit location the way the Library of Congress… CARLA HAYDEN: We’re working on that. DEBORAH RUTTER: is a must
visit location for all who visit our nation’s capital. CARLA HAYDEN: We’re working on that. I’ll explain a little later. MARIN ALSOP: Well, I don’t
have any big secrets. CARLA HAYDEN: Oh Marin. MARIN ALSOP: I know, it’s terrible. But, for those of you who don’t
know the Baltimore Symphony, all I can say is we’re sort of the,
we’re the poor cousin up the road. But, the quality of our
orchestra and the level of passion and commitment from the musicians
and the Baltimore Symphony, I think is really unparalleled
in the United States. I think it’s one of the great, one of the really great
orchestras of the world. And I’d invite you to come and hear
the orchestra any time and it’s nice as we’re ramping up, also to 2018 which is the 100 anniversary
of Leonard Bernstein. And so, it’s nice because
we have that connection also with the Kennedy Center because
Bernstein wrote his mass in honor of JFK, so there’s always that
nice, that nice connection. And of course Bernstein inspired so
many people and as I said to start, was my hero, so we’ll be doing a lot of programming around
that of course. CARLA HAYDEN: Well, I was saying
and I said I’ll mention it later, but the Library of Congress
is connecting to all of you. We have his papers. We’re going to be part
of the celebration. Lorraine Hansberry,
Lee Strasburg archives, so we will be supplementing,
complementing, and will be part of what you do. And the Orch Kids are coming. MARIN ALSOP: The Orch Kids are
going to come and play here. CARLA HAYDEN: Right
her in the Great Hall. So, we are just delighted. [applause] So, we’d like
to open it up for questions or comments and things you have. Talk about Women’s History Month. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, first
of all thank you very much for your very candid comments. In the course of the discussion up
there, the term, leadership was used at least several dozen times. So, and we have 4 very
distinguished women up there who have achieved significant
leadership positions in their chosen professional path. So, my question is, can
you talk a little more about your personal leadership
style and maybe a lesson or two about leadership that you learned
as you developed into a leader? CARLA HAYDEN: I’m looking
at you guys first. DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, that’s
a really good question. I will start only because these
two have more creative answers than I do. But, I do think that that’s why
there has been an increasing number of women in managerial
positions in the arts. And it’s because I am
a consensus builder and I work on building teams. I’m not an autocrat who says,
“this is the way it’s going to be. This is what I care about. This is only what we
are going to do.” And in fact, whenever I have
a group of colleagues who ask for that direction, I
push back even harder. I push my seat away from
the table and I say, “no, we are doing this together.” Building that team who
believe in where we’re going and how we’re going to get there and that’s the most
rewarding aspect of it. Now, you go to a different city and
you find a new culture when you go into that organization and
sometimes it takes a while to change from one style to another. And I have never inherited
a job from another woman, so I build a different kind of
an atmosphere in the organization and it’s much more fun and you get
so much more done and there are so many more creative ideas that
come out of your institution when you can lead by building a
team who all have a common vision. MOLLY SMITH: And I would
say the most important part of leadership is communication. Because the worst thing in the world
is to be a leader leading the band and there’s no one behind you. And so it’s all about communicating
whatever the particular vision is, whatever the particular idea is. And also recognizing that
sometimes it take a lot of time to make whatever that dream
or that vision come true. When I came to Arena, I
re-focused Arena on American plays, American ideas and American artists. It had been much more of
an international company and American work before that time. It took 8 or 9 years to
do that in a full way. And it’s really insuring
that everybody who is at the theater leads in their
own way because people want to lead and people need to lead. They’re their own experts. So, giving people the power
to be able to do that, I think is incredibly
important in leadership roles. MARIN ALSOP: Well, I agree
with everything you’re saying. I think that being a good leader
is being a very good listener. I think collaborative leadership,
trying to nurture collaboration. But, I think at the end
of the day as a leader, you have to accept accountability,
especially in an orchestra. It can’t be a democracy. And so, ultimately, even though a
lot of people would like it to be. I think ultimately,
from my perspective, just a personal mantra is “I’d much
rather be respected than liked.” And often if they respect you long
enough, they end up liking you. That can’t be one’s motivation. I think sometimes leaders have
to make the hard decisions and stand alone for
the good of the art. And if you always put your
art first, you can’t go wrong. CARLA HAYDEN: That’s wonderful. Just on a side note, as
a leader and as a woman, making sure that there’s a safety
net for making mistakes and that you as a leader can reveal
that you make mistakes, that you do things and it’s ok. Creating that safety net. Another one. And wasn’t it funny how
I said, “You guys.”? [laughter] As soon as I said it, I
said, “ok, Women’s History Month.” AUDIENCE MEMBER: I applaud each of
you and I hear a lot about children and I am a substitute teacher and
an artist and a senior citizen. And what I want to know is, where
do you see our place in the arts? As I hold up my card as
being a senior citizen. CARLA HAYDEN: Well, I just told
Marin about a lady who she knew, Netty Taylor, who just
passed away recently at 102 and her greatest joy was
bringing young people to the BSO, the Baltimore Symphony
Orchestra and being that person, even with the wheel
chair, everything. Netty Taylor would sit there and
make sure that she was part of that. MARIN ALSOP: So, don’t you think
we could do a lot more with seniors and getting them involved? Especially… One of my dreams is for
our Orch Kids program is to offer our retired musicians
who have this unbelievable wealth of knowledge, a post-orchestra
career working with the Orch Kids and putting a whole
training program into place. I think that when I look at many
of our volunteers, are older people who are involved with the kids and
they’re so devoted and dedicated. And they also come
with this lifetime of experience and knowledge. So, I think we can offer more
because I think it’s a resource that we’re not taking
advantage of as we could. DEBORAH RUTTER: You know, if you think about the work
that’s often done by corporations, sort of searching after
the 18 to 24 year old. And I have spent all of my
career sort of scratching my head about why are we always talking
about wanting younger audiences? Part of the reason we’re
looking for younger audiences is because we’re all aging and we’re
all aging into being seniors and we’re all aging into
that time in our life when we actually have more
time to do other things. We need to make sure that you
have young people coming in. And it’s about making the
connection throughout life, whether it is the youngest
person to the senior or seniors then helping young
people come into the arts and having that experience. And I think that as I
experience with my own family and with my own organization, we’re
thinking more about the programs that we’re offering to audiences of
all ages and understanding in fact that music and dance and theater can
be even more important as you age and it’s not just because you have
more time, but actually it is a part of what happens in your whole
physical cycle and your brain and keeping yourself healthy. So, this is actually something
that I’ve been thinking about, not at a fully formed idea yet,
but other than the fact that I see that some of the most active people
in my life both at work and at home, are the ones who are working
and active and engaged still. And those are the ones who
are docents and helping out as teaching assistants
for our education programs. But, I’ve really come to think
that developing some programs that are sort of health and wellness
programs for people of all ages and seniors in particular,
would be something that would be a great way
for us to benefit from. But, this is also something
that we don’t always know a lot about because we’re dealing with… We’re our own age, we’re thinking
about bringing young people in. So, it’s an area that I
think as our population ages, as there’s a larger population
that is of a different age, we can think about the role that we
are, in terms of providing services, whether active participatory
ones or as patrons. So, it’s a wonderful question and
it’s one that happens to be sort of resonant for me right now
as we are doing some work. Actually, I will tell you a secret
which is that we’re doing a program that hasn’t really
been out there too much yet with the National
Institutes of Health. And it’s around health and
wellness and music and the brain and we’re looking at how music
has an impact on young kids and what it can do
for music therapy. We talked about that and then all
the way through creative aging. So, it’s something that is really
on the top of mind right now. CARLA HAYDEN: Creative aging. DEBORAH RUTTER: Creative aging. Think about it. CARLA HAYDEN: I think we need that. Another question. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. I work here at the Library
and if I had more time, I’d talk about the author
named Marguerite De Angeli that influenced both Dr.
Hayden and actually me in going into a career writing about
Quakers, which is just an aside to say I ended up getting
a PhD in American Studies. But, had you asked me at the
same age about 10 or 12 years old who I wanted to be when I grew up, it would have been
Leonard Bernstein. Bernsteen. Bernstein. MARIN ALSOP: Bernstein, your right. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Bernstein. Sorry, my cousins are
Bernsteen, he’s Bernstein. And the height of my
conducting career was to conduct the high school orchestra
for one piece in my senior year. My question is about talent in
the arts or the idea of talent which I think as I look back, I
don’t know how much talent I did or didn’t have, but at a certain
point, it didn’t seem to me that I had the talent to
be an orchestral conductor and I went in other directions. I also play the violin, by the way. But, I think that at the time, there
were senses of role models for women in those ways and I heard you
all talk about mentorship. But, I don’t actually know the
answer for where talent versus- so it’s a nature nurture
kind of question I guess. If you can talk about
that a little more because it’s a big deal in the arts. It seems to me. CARLA HAYDEN: And before you start,
I’m laughing because I’m the product of two classically trained musicians
and I’m sitting here as a librarian. So, that tells you my talent
and why this is so important. A violinist and a pianist,
so talent does… MARIN ALSOP: I don’t know. Maybe I have some very
idealistic view of talent. I think, also I think the word,
creativity is often restricted to people who have chosen
the arts as their discipline. Whereas, I think that creativity
is inherent in being human. When people tell me they’re tone
deaf or something like that, I think that’s simply not possible. You know someone told you that
and you started taking that on. Or you can’t draw. I was told, “you’re terrible
at that,” so I always thought, “I have no talent for that.” But, instead if someone
had said, “well, let’s see. Let me help you a little bit. Oh that’s nice.” It’s all about mentorship
I think and encouragement. The thing I like about
the Orch Kids program, it’s not targeting talented kids. It’s democratic. I believe everyone is talented. I believe that had that
been a passion for you and someone had encouraged you,
you could do what I’m doing now. For me, it’s all about opportunity
and exposure and every kid I find… I became a parent very late in life. I was amazed at what my kid could
do, but it was only because I had… my expectations were this high. So, when I started
with the Orch Kids, my expectations were also this
high and then immediately, the kids go to wherever
you put the bar and higher. I think every child is born
with enormous talent and genius and we just gradually
suck it out of them. (laughter) And that’s what
we can’t afford to do. So, maybe I’m very
idealistic about this, but I believe you have
the talent that I have. DEBORAH RUTTER: I have a couple of
different stories of circumstances where a really influential teacher
or conductor would actually say to and gave examples where hard work is
actually more important than talent. Because somebody who has raw talent
may coast without the hard work. So, the people who we see as
genius are using raw talent and then working really hard at it. And so that’s why I would always
encourage to stick with it. My problem was I didn’t want
to be alone in a practice room. MARIN ALSOP: Right. It’s whether you have the
personality to endure it. I think. DEBORAH RUTTER: Exactly. Exactly. But, I love it like crazy
and I dedicate enormous amounts of my time in a different way really
supporting it and experiencing it. So, it’s really about
how you spend your time. So, absolutely, you could
have been a conductor. There’s a long path to travel, but. MOLLY SMITH: And I
would totally agree. I think that there’s like 5 or 10 %
talent because everybody has talent and the rest of it is perseverance,
persistence, gutsiness, aggressive, pushing through all of the
rejection and being able to say, “no, I can still do this.” But, that also has to do
with self-image, you know? The people around you supporting
you, saying, “You can do it. You can do it.” And that’s one of the most
important things that we can give to young people and adults
as well because I believe in lifelong education, that
curiosity is through an entire life. And even if you don’t
think you have the talent to do this thing, just try. Just try. Go out and do it. It’s amazing what it will open up. CARLA HAYDEN: And to
be able to recognize it and that’s sometimes the part
that’s really gripping when you know that young people might
not have the opportunity to have their particular talent
recognized at an early enough stage. Maybe you’re not good at
drawing, but there’s a child over there that’s singing
all the time. This one is doing that. The greatest gift my parents
gave me was at 12 we all agreed that when they looked at
musical notes, they heard music and when I looked at
text, I heard words. And that was ok. And then I went off with
words and appreciated it. But, to know. Sometimes you drive in neighborhoods
and you look on corners and you see people and you say wow, when did the light
go out in their eyes? When was that 4 year old
not given that chance to do that and here they are. DEBORAH RUTTER: That’s the
spiral that is so difficult. That if you get into that, if you
are caught somewhere in that spiral and you don’t have the network
that can give it to you. So, it has to come from teachers, it
has to come from community leaders, it has to come from
somebody if it can’t come from your parents and mentors. And that’s why we have to have
a network that supports people. CARLA HAYDEN: Right. I think we have time for one more
question or comment and to really in this celebration of
Women’s History Month, I can’t thank you all enough. AUDIENCE MEMBER: I wanted
to echo everyone else and just saying thank you
all so much for coming out and sharing your experiences
for this event. My question is as women of power,
how do you all weave the concept of intersectionality into your
organizations in regard to hiring or promoting or just
generally creating a pipeline so that arts leadership may be
more inclusive to women of color? DEBORAH RUTTER: Well, first
of all you have to have, you have to be very explicit
in saying this is a priority and having broad ownership,
because if just one person owns it, it won’t, it can’t succeed. But, if you can get broad ownership
throughout your institution. In my case, it was extremely helpful that the board was
right there with me. If not perhaps ahead of me
when I came to the Center and therefore putting
the structure in place. It does though mean that you
have to put mandates in place. And so for us now, there can
never be a final candidate pool that doesn’t have diversity
in the pool. And a conversation that always takes
place both from the hiring people. Now I’m lucky because
I have an institution that has really great reach and I
want to use the size and the reach of this institution to help build
as many future leaders as possible. But, I believe it can happen
in any kind of organization. It has to be something that
you believe as a core value. And you have to have the whole
team doing the same thing. Because the one person isn’t
doing all of the hiring. There are a lot of
people doing the hiring, but I think that Molly’s
given a great description because there are jobs everywhere. It’s not just in sort of the
administrative aspect of it. There are jobs throughout
our buildings that are supporting
the arts and are a way into our organization MARIN ALSOP:
We’re looking also to trying to create diversity on
our board of directors. I’m sure everyone, the good thing is
that it’s an open conversation now and I think there is an
awareness of the dearth of diversity throughout our field. So, I think that’s exciting
because people are willing to have the conversation
and really try to at least change the
landscape to a certain degree. MOLLY SMITH: We look at it
holistically at Arena Stage. When I came to Arena, our
audience was not diverse so I walked the streets
of Washington, DC. I went into the churches
in Washington, DC. I went into some of
the Baptist churches and of course Washington DC
is a black and white city. And there was programming that we
had on stage that really focused on the African American experience, but our audiences didn’t
reflect that. And this is unusual
because Arena started as the first integrated theater
in Washington, DC 68 years ago. And so it’s in our bloodlines,
the importance of this. And so I realized it all happens
through programming and so about a third to half of the work that we do every year is
around people of color. When I was in the Baptist churches, I saw the way in which people
welcomed people is they would stand outside the door and shake hands with people all the
way into the church. So, we changed our usher structure. So, there are people all the way through the theater
saying, “welcome, come in.” We have people all the way outside
because theaters tend to be places where people are a little
bit nervous coming in. And so eventually, now almost 30%
of our audience are people of color. That’s one of the most
diverse in the United States – one of the top ones in theaters. And that’s something that
we work on on a daily basis. Our staff is diverse. Our programming is diverse. Our board is becoming more diverse. We have a wonderful chairman,
Judith Batty who’s African American. And we just keep working at
it and as you said Marin, it’s moment by moment,
it’s day by day. It’s doing exactly what Deborah
says, which is when we have a pool of people, what we’re looking
at for a particular position, there has to be a person
of color within that pool who can get the job, right? It can’t just be, “well,
we can’t find anybody.” Go out again, keep looking. And so that’s where we
as administrators need to keep our own feet in the fire. CARLA HAYDEN: I can’t thank you
all enough because even though, and all of you that are here today, because this is Women’s
History Month, but women’s history
is all year round. And I just thank you so much. DEBORAH RUTTER: We’re
so proud of you, Carla. [applause]

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