Info You Can Use: Good Fellowship Opportunity

Tomorrow as the new year dawns and you make a resolution to be the best darn arts administrator you can be, you might want to consider starting an application to Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new arts administration/leadership fellowship.

According to American Theatre, the Paul Nicholson Arts Management Fellowship is meant to increase diversity among arts leadership.

The seven-month fellowships are for professionals interested in a career in arts management and artistic leadership. Candidates need only be interested in leading an arts organization; a background in theatre is not required. The chosen fellow will work in close capacity with OSF managing director Cynthia Rider, and will lead projects across multiple administrative departments.

Johka emphasizes that while the Paul Nicholson Fellowship is designed to give potential leaders of color an opportunity to develop professionally, the application process is open to all, not just candidates of color.

“You can’t make a claim to have a commitment to diversity and inclusion while maintaining that in order to bring people in, they must have a long history in a field that has been traditionally all white,” Johka adds. “You have to open up your criteria to accept and value all kinds of transferable skills.”

Just in case you breezed over the sentence I bolded above, it is not necessary that you have a background in theatre.

Deadline is February 1 and the fellowship, which includes housing, transportation and a stipend, begins March 31, 2015. Application is accepted online.

Seems like a great opportunity. My only nitpick is that the application process requires three letters of recommendation to be attached at the time of submission. I realize this is likely to be a highly competitive process and there needs to be a weeding out process. However, if the goal is to attract people of diverse backgrounds, requiring three letters of recommendation may end up excluding people who have advanced along the less traditional path with “all kinds of transferable skills” they are seeking.

Getting quality letters of recommendation for your application file in a timely manner is often even a difficult task for university doctoral students who operate in a culture in which they are de rigueur.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment