Please give a warm welcome to MAC's Education Director, Brooke! Brooke moved here from New York during the winter of 2022/2023. Learn more about Brooke below!
1. What is your connection to the arts? Are you an artist yourself or do you have a particular interest in the arts?
I have been working in the arts for most of my adult life. I started working as a teaching artist in New York City in 2003, and spent nearly a decade with a small arts organization there. I then moved on to Juilliard, where I worked with students and artists all over the world to create programs for K-12 students. Working in these organizations deepened my love - and broadened my understanding and awareness - for all the art forms. I would say it also helped me expand my definition of what the arts can encompass, and why they are a crucial part of the human experience, rather than a luxury.
2. Are you an artist yourself or do you have a particular interest in the arts?
I grew up wanting to be an actress, and so I studied theatre in college. For my thesis, I wrote and performed a one woman show called “Biting my Neighbor” - semi autobiographical, of course! I worked in theatre when I was living in Seattle as well, performing and writing with a few different theatre companies there. I also wrote and performed another one woman show while living there! I continued to do some theatre in New York, but my focus really moved to arts education while there. I was surrounded by so many inspiring, talented artists that my personal art form has become helping other artists translate their passion to students!
3. What is your favorite arts medium and why is it your favorite?
I don’t know if I can choose a favorite. I myself love practicing theatre, as I love
sharing stories and I love all the aspects of what goes into a performance: The costumes, the lighting, the sound, the performers - everything. But with that said, I think each art form is astonishing in its own right, and I love that they all exist as ways for people to express their voices and their truth. I am constantly in awe of talented musicians, painters, dancers - and since I can’t do those things so beautifully, I love to attend performances, go to galleries and openings, and generally do what I can to appreciate and support anyone who IS doing them! I listen to a ton of different music, I love learning about different visual artists, and whenever I go home to Chicago, I take the architectural boat tour - as I love that as an art form as well.
4. If you could learn any arts medium, what would it be? Why?
That’s a tough one too! I would love to be able to paint, as that’s something I can’t really fathom. The ability to look at something and then represent it in a recognizable way seems to be such a marvelous ability that I don’t have - even though I know it’s largely a matter of practice. I would also love to learn to play the violin. Before my time at Juilliard, I didn’t have the same appreciation for classical music that I do now, and while I love listening to the cello the most, I would love to be able to play the violin.
5. What are you most looking forward to as Arts Advocacy and Policy Director for Mono Arts Council?
I am so excited to get to work with the students and the artists out here in the Eastern Sierra! I have been teaching online for the past couple of years, but it wasn’t arts education - and it wasn’t in person. I miss being in schools and seeing the excitement and the dedication that comes when a student finds their voice, or learns about some art form that really speaks to them! I can’t wait to meet the students and the families in this area, and I’m honestly excited about my commute - I am thrilled that my job will require driving around all of the gorgeous towns in Mono County! I am super excited to work with all of the awesome people I’ve already met at MAC as well - it’s already such a supportive, inspiring community.
6. Why do you think the arts are so important right now?
I think the arts are the most important thing that we as humans have - I think that has always been so, and I think they are as important now as they’ve always been. I think the challenge for us is that there are people and systems that don’t allow for that. For me, though, the obvious answer here is that the arts connect us, and we live in a time (post-Covid and with the Age of the Internet) where it’s easy to be isolated from one another. We can live and work “remotely” and that can mean that our interactions with others can become limited. So, I think the arts connect us, they allow us to give voice to truths that matter, and maybe more importantly - I think that by ensuring children have access and exposure to the arts, we help to build a world where those voices can find a beautiful way to be heard and seen and understood.