CCIA connects students to arts careers through hands-on experiences
Sharing a meal of vegetable gumbo, biscuits and bacon at Bronzeville’s Le Fleur de Lis restaurant on a recent Sunday afternoon were a dozen University of Chicago students, an art history professor, a lighting rigger, a master of African drumming, and UChicago arts career adviser Lloyd Brodnax King.
The group spent Sunday, April 3 touring 43rd Street’s past and present cultural haunts, including the new performance space Room 43, the block that once was home to the legendary blues club the Checkerboard Lounge, and a guided tour of community murals led by Rebecca Zorach, Professor in Art History. The field trip to Bronzeville was the Chicago Careers in the Arts spring kick-off, “43rd Street Revisited.”
Thanks to support from alumni and the College, Career Advising and Planning Services and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts launched CCIA last fall to provide additional support to students interested in pursuing careers in the arts. “Partnering with our arts colleagues across campus, we are thrilled to be providing more direct support to students who would like to work in the arts,” said Bill Michel, Executive Director of the Logan Center.
Since October 2010, King has been working to connect students with interests in the arts to internships and alumni who can help them chart career paths in publishing, music, visual arts, performance, museums, design, and other arts-related fields that are difficult to crack. This summer, some CCIA students will do Metcalf internships at such arts outposts as the Mark Morris Dance Group and WBEZ Radio’s rock-and-roll-focused show “Sound Opinions.”
The job of CCIA is to tailor the CAPS’ advisory programming to the arts world. “If you’re going for a hands-on, creative job, a resume doesn’t help you much. What you need is closer to a CV or a production list,” King said.
His advice for writing a successful arts cover letter is also nuanced. “So many people in the arts write cover letters to talk about their passion, or how much they admire an institution, and that’s really the wrong way to go about getting a job,” King said. “I’m teaching students how to write letters that reduce some of the romanticism and get down to the brass tacks—how well their skill-sets match the needs of the job.”
Lyndsey Moulds, a third-year English major and King’s assistant, said, “Everywhere you look, people are saying the job market is more competitive than ever. When it comes to a career in the arts, it’s really helpful to have CCIA, even just for networking.”
Moulds is hoping to receive a grant to spend the summer illustrating a comic book. She said that during the summer months, the CCIA will be teaching students how to conceive grant proposals to secure funding for creative projects, such as writing a play or producing a movie.
King said another goal is to encourage students to get off campus and explore the city—often working in partnership with the UChicago Arts Pass program. He plans to list events in a newsletter and offer more outings like the trip to Bronzeville. Last winter, CCIA students had the opportunity to spend a day at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, meeting with cultural programmers and curators.
Second-year Classics major Kunal Basu-Dutta said the trip to Bronzeville, which included stops at the former sites of the Wall of Respect, a mural painted by a black artists collective in the 1960s, and the Checkerboard Lounge, inspired him to think about how his art-making relates to the city.
“Bronzeville is an area that’s really close to the University, but it’s almost a ghost town compared to what it was—jamming, moving, cultural,” he said. “I’ve been here a year and a half in Chicago, and I never thought of doing art that speaks to the community where I’m living in this way.”
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