Over spring break, I traveled to London, England, along with 20 other Steinhardt graduate students to participate in the Creative and Cultural Industries short-term study abroad course. This program allowed us to strengthen our understanding of the creative and cultural industries through guest lectures from top industry professionals, site visits to world-renowned cultural institutions, and independent exploration. I’m a second year master’s student in the Performing Arts Administration program and I also served as the course assistant.
By Emily Reineke
Today was our first day of class in London. After a wonderful welcome at NYU London, we were excited to meet with two successful Performing Arts Administration alumni, Deirdre Alby, a senior consultant at Arthouse, a media agency for Broadway productions, and Yukiko Shishikura, a classical music artist manager for HarrisonParrott. They participated in an hour-long conversation with us, answering questions about what it’s like to work internationally and live in London. Following this discussion, we had a delicious welcome dinner at Wagamama. Of course, no day in London would be complete without a trip to the pub with friends!
We started the day with a lecture from Gerald Lidstone, director of the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London. After learning more about the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), the class heard from Neil Darlison, the director of strategy for the Performing Arts for Arts Council England. Neil gave us a thorough introduction to Arts Council England and its various funding and programming initiatives. Following our time in the classroom, we ventured out for a tour of the Southbank Centre, where we got a behind-the-scenes look into their performance and community spaces. We heard from our guide about the positive impact the institution has had on the community by welcoming everyone into their building at all hours of the day and night. Following our conversation, we were free to visit some other iconic arts organizations located on the south bank of the Thames such as the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, and the National Theatre.
Tuesday was full of amazing guest speakers! After welcoming back Gerald Lidstone to learn a more about the CCIs, we were joined by Chris Hogg, an associate lecturer at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship. Chris taught us about how AR/VR (augmented reality/ virtual reality) is being used in theatre and how companies like Punch Drunk are rethinking the theatrical experience (like Sleep No More in New York). Our morning session wrapped up with a very special visit from the chair of Creative England and the mayor of London’s cultural advisor, John Newbigin. As the original creator of the CCI segments, it was amazing to have a conversation with a legend in the cultural policy and management field! We ended our day with a lecture from Tim Jones, the Culture Mile manager, who spoke about the program and the work they are doing all over London. After class, our group split up and we explored the city on our own, attended performances, and visited museums. It was wonderful to experience the culture of the city after learning about it!
We are about half-way through our time here in London, and today was a long, amazing day! We started off with a lecture from Siân Prime, the deputy director of the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London. She gave us an introduction to cultural entrepreneurship and two of her alumni shared stories of the start-up companies they created while in the Goldsmiths program. Following a wonderful lunch of traditional fish and chips, we were off to Somerset House. We took a tour of the facility and heard from their director of development about how they serve as an incubator for emerging artists and technologists. We even had the chance to view London from the roof of the building! Did you know it was once the only place in London where you could view both the Parliament building and the Tower of London? After a few hours on our own, the class met up again at Battersea Arts Centre to see the BeatBox Academy’s Frankenstein. There we met with Liz Moreton, the head of creativity and social change, to learn about the company’s initiatives and performances. After the talk, it was time for the show! We were blown away by the beautiful theatre and the amazing performance given by each of the six beatboxers. We had such an incredible time that we are all hoping this show makes its way to New York so we can experience it again!
Today we had an interactive class with George Musgrave, a lecturer at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship. George led us through a design thinking exercise where we identified problems in our communities, proposed possible solutions, developed a start-up company to solve a specific problem, and created a brand for our company. After our time in the classroom, we made our way to Cockpit Arts and learned about their innovative approach to supporting and mentoring craft artists. In their two locations, Cockpit Arts provides administrative support, management training, studio space, and consulting services to help artists establish and develop their unique creative businesses. We had an amazing time meeting with three of their 170 artists, exploring their workshops, learning about their individual business models, and how Cockpit Arts has helped them achieve success. After visiting Cockpit Arts, we had more time to explore the city.
We can’t believe it’s our last day in London! Fortunately, we had an amazing day starting with a lecture from Carla Figueira, director of the master’s program in Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy at Goldsmiths. She invited our class to join her and her students for a presentation by Magda Stroe, director of the Romanian Cultural Institute. We learned about the cultural activities and initiatives the Institute supports and the challenges they face trying to serve the cultural needs of the large Romanian community in London while also connecting with the British public. Cultural relations and diplomacy in action indeed! It was also a treat to have our conversation in the stunning Romanian Embassy. After our visit, we walked to a nearby Prezzo for a farewell meal. We had a great time sharing stories about the week and enjoying a delicious meal together. The class was such a remarkable experience, one that I am sure we will all remember for a very long time!