Master of Arts in Visual Arts Administration

How Arts are a Vehicle for Positive Change on the local level

Date and Time: November 18th, 6:30 PM

Guest(s): Gonzalo Casals (director of education/programs, El Museo) and Jose Serrano-McClean (community organizer, coordinator of the Corona Studio program at the Queens Museum).

Gonzalo Casals is the Director of Education & Public Programs, at El Museo del Barrio, where he successfully developed exciting new programs that have drawn new audiences to El Museo and cultivated new stakeholders for the institution.

NYU Steinhardt’s Art Education Program and the Visual Art Administration Program presented their first collaborative colloquium.

The theme of the evening was how arts are a vehicle for positive change on the local level. Our speakers reflected the growing influence of community organizing methods in cultural organizations, and the role museums play as a “third partner” in delivering arts education to schools/intergenerational audiences. Two institutions were examined: the Queens Museum (founded 1972) and El Museo del Barrio (founded 1969). Both institutions were supported as part of a City-wide policy of decentralization of local educational resources. In the 40 years since their founding, New York City's population has diversified further with new residents hailing from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central America. At the same time, public funding practices have changed, impacting administrative management. Additionally, as the art world has become increasingly global economically as well as demographically, what role do community arts organizations play in fostering new practices/new voices?

Such changing conditions are part of what our guest speakers, Gonzalo Casals (director of education/programs, El Museo) and Jose Serrano-McClean (community organizer, coordinator of the Corona Studio program at the Queens Museum), have inherited and part of what they address in their work with artists, schools, and the local community. Gonzalo and Jose shared their experiences in the field, reflected upon their academic studies and how they influenced their practices at their respective museums and in their volunteer work, and shed light on the challenges they face in making art relevant to local communities.

Jose Serrano-McClain is an artist, social entrepreneur, and community organizer who started his career as an economic analyst. Working at at the Federal Reserve he realized he would rather be thinking the economics of the creative spirit. In 2009 he co-founded Trust Art ( as an experimental economic model for artistic practice that has the potential to transform communities.  Through it, he has actively participated in the development of dozens of community-oriented artist projects.  In 2010, he joined the Queens Museum of Art in a unique role that reports to both the curatorial and community engagement departments at the Museum, identifying opportunities for Museum-commissioned artist projects to make meaningful connections with community organizations in Corona, as well as guiding artists towards the successful merger of aesthetic preoccupations with the relational and social impact aspects of their projects.  In his first year at the Museum, his portfolio of responsibilities has also consisted of working with local elected officials to re-envision a dysfunctional public space in Corona, as well as as the two inaugural Corona Studio projects: Immigrant Movement International and Ghana Think Tank in Corona.