Monday, December 9, 2013

Katie Garland on Public History and Arts Management

Katie at work during her internship at the Newport Historical Society in RI
Katie Garland, a 2012 graduate of the Messiah College History Department, is pursuing an M.A. in public history and a certificate in arts management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where she is working with wonderful public historians such as Marla Miller and David Glassberg.  I love how she is thinking about her future career.  Katie is not only pursuing a traditional course in public history, but she has opted to stay on at UMASS for an additional year to obtain the practical management skills needed "to feel confident about running a historical organization after graduation."  In the process, she has learned to embrace the arts as well as the humanities.

Katie is a trailblazer for many public history students at Messiah College.  Our new public history concentration not only requires that students take courses and internships in public history, local history, digital history, teaching history, and public archaeology, but it also requires them to take courses in non-history-related subjects such as business management, photography, GIS technology, event planning, web design, museum studies, and digital media.  As chair of the department I have been thrilled to see students building off of the public history concentration with minors (or double majors) in business management, marketing, and communications.

As longtime readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home know, Katie worked as my research assistant from 2009-2012.  She was influential in helping me complete Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? and Why Study History?  In fact, she wrote most of the book proposal for the latter project.  I am thus particularly proud to see Katie writing for History@Work, the official blog of the National Council of Public History.

Here is a taste of her post: "Community Engagements Across Disciplinary Boundaries":

To learn about financial management, strategic planning, development, and the like, I decided to pursue a certificate in arts management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to complement my public history degree.  I felt like a bit of an outsider in the Arts Management Program.  Everyone that I met at the Arts Extension Service (AES) organization on campus that runs the arts management program was lovely, but I did not necessarily feel like I was part of that world.
My perspective changed on September 26, when I attended the Arts Extension Service’s conference titled “Arts Policy on the Ground: The Impact of the National Endowment for the Arts.”  First, we had a lot to celebrate.  Not only is AES commemorating its 40th anniversary, but the National Arts Policy Archives and Library (NAPAAL), which will be part of the UMass Special Collections and University Archives, is opening this year as well.  NAPAAL currently contains publications and research reports from the National Endowment for the Arts, records from the Arts Extension Service, and will soon also include papers from Americans for the Arts as well as the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
And second, as I participated in session after session about NAPAAL, AES’s history, public art and design, and public participation in the arts, I realized just how much public historians have to learn from arts management and vice versa.  I am not the first to realize this, obviously, as artists and historians have worked together for years.  Most recently at UMass, Robert Cox, director of the UMass Special Collection and Archives, worked closely with the Arts Extension Service to acquire NAPAAL.  Thanks to this partnership, researchers interested in arts policy in the US will now have a place to go to discover how artists, art organizations, and politicians have worked together to advocate for the arts.  By understanding the past we will begin to move on and chart a course for the future of the arts.  Historic preservation professionals over time have also joined forces with artists.  Public artists use their design skills to create beautiful buildings and landscapes, thereby improving our cities.  But when the art starts to crumble, artists and preservationists work together to preserve important architecture, murals, sculptures, and other public art.  And, of course, art and history museum professionals have a long history of working together.