Three arts leaders in conversation

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Roundtable discussion

At the center of most arts and culture communities around the country sits an arts agency. Local, County, and State arts agencies provide infrastructure that support arts and culture in deliberate ways. They may act as the primary funding body in a community, the lead convener, and primary advocate. Playing many roles is standard practice for today’s arts agency. As varied as their work is within each individual community and ecosystem, their genesis is also varied. We asked three agency leaders—Erick Deshaun Dorris (Chair, Joliet Arts Commission), Nicole L. Mullet (Executive Director, ArtsNow), and Kristin Sakoda (Director, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture)—to share their origin story for insight into the journey and, in one case, evolution.

The full Roundtable is published in our spring issue of Arts Link, Americans for the Arts’ membership magazine. For a deeper dive on each participant’s unique experience, follow the links below.

Erick Deshaun Dorris, Chair, Joliet Arts Commission

About two years ago, I walked into a meeting in Galesburg, Illinois, and said, “Joliet wants to start a local arts agency,” and the resounding response was “Okay, how can we help!” I have found that people in these roles want to help you and are looking for opportunities to connect with you. Read more.

Nicole L. Mullet, Executive Director, ArtsNow

ArtsNow was created through a collaborative and community-driven process. That remains our organization’s hallmark; collaboration is core to the work we do. Being a small staff requires that we collaborate and share resources to serve our community. But we also believe that an inclusive and authentic process garners the best results and most significant impact. Read more.

Kristin Sakoda, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture

In our first year as a department, we have a strategic foundation beneath us, and we are focused on how to become a 21st century arts agency. It is exciting to literally and figuratively have arts and culture seated at the table of government in one of the largest and most diverse counties in the nation. Read more.

Log in to your account to read this issue of Arts Link. Not a member? Join today for access to Arts Link and more member benefits.