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My internship advocating for diversity in the arts

My internship advocating for diversity in the arts

September 17, 2021 at 10:00am

Name: Chloe Little 

Hometown: Orlando, FL 

What is your major?  International Relations major; Global Learning Medallion student; and fully online Honors College student.

Where did you internAmericans for the Arts: Diversity in Arts Leadership  

What is your title? Diversity in the Arts Leadership intern  

How did you get your internship? I found out about my summer internship while I was applying to be a Hamilton Scholar last Fall. 

What were you doing there? Shadowing the Nashville Ballet’s Community Engagement Manager Briona Richardson, while participating in seminars and meetings led by Americans for the Arts and the Metro Arts Commission.  

What projects did you work on? During my first week, my supervisor allowed me to contribute to constructing a podcast series called "Inside the Ballet: Dancing With Pride." Throughout the summer, I worked with my supervisor to compose the programming for this season’s community engagement events; in addition to this, I participated in the company’s many different meetings, including their diversity equity and inclusion committee.  

How does your internship connect back to your coursework? I made many correlations between my internship and the coursework that I have completed at FIU. For instance, the multifaceted structure of my experience often led me to reflect upon my time in Professor Anthony Rionda’s Washington Seminar course. 

In addition, my internship was sponsored by a D.C. and New York-based organization (AFTA) that partnered with a local government office (Metro Nashville Arts Commission), which then placed with me the Nashville Ballet. This nonprofit organization is funded from grants through the Metro Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Overall, my experience reinforced how the implications and decisions of public policy are in everyday life, regardless of your occupational sector. 

What is the coolest thing that happened during your internship?  I would like to highlight what was “not so cool.” The Nashville Ballet has a highly acclaimed ballet titled “Lucy Negro Redux.” It is based upon a book by Caroline Randall Williams, a well-known author, poet and academic who received an NAACP Image Award in 2016. I am all for Lucy’s redux but not for the invitation to use the term Negro by way of programming.

As I am writing this, Harvard Law School has just announced its new seal after retiring its previous seal for its ties to slavery. I hope cultural organizations like the Nashville Ballet will note these necessary social transitions and make symbolic extractions even when replacements are not immediate. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to express my concerns with the Ballet’s Artistic Director Paul Vasterling, directly. It would be cool to see a change. 

What have you enjoyed most about your experience? I enjoyed meeting the majority of the Nashville Ballet’s administrative team. Everyone was so welcoming and open to my ideas and perspective. 

What have you learned about yourself? I need to pace myself, diversity equity and inclusion-based work can be exhausting. I may not make all the changes I wish for in three months, but a lot can be done in one year or even 10.  

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?  Start looking for summer opportunities in the fall; the best opportunities go early. 

How has the position increased your professional confidence?  Well, I feel like I have a whole squad of arts administrators cheering me on in the middle of Nashville, Tennessee. Just the idea alone makes me want to adjust my shoulders back and stand a little taller.  

How has the internship expanded your professional network? I quickly increased my LinkedIn network by at least 100 people this summer. As a result, I connected with individuals from AFTA, Metro Arts and the Nashville Ballet. In addition to this, I received scholarships to two virtual conferences just from this one internship.