2021 Student Respondent Blog Post: Erin Hoppe

by Lee Ann Adams

The AAAE Student Committee crafted multiple points of student engagement throughout the 2021 Virtual Conference based on student interests and feedback. For the first time ever, we invited our Student Members to serve as Student Respondents at conference sessions related to their own personal research or interests to ignite deeper conversation and dialogue among practitioners, educators and students. In this series of blog posts, we’ll hear from some of our 2021 Student Respondents on their experience at the 2021 Virtual Conference: REIMAGINE/RECONNECT/RENEW

Conferences, Colleagues, and Changes

Erin J. Hoppe, The Ohio State University

I recently dove into the Rule of 3.  Threes are everywhere: past/present/future; red/yellow/blue; small/medium/large.  Each day I set three personal and three professional to-dos.  Three also supports learning and remembering: it’s enough information to get a main point across, but not so much parts are forgotten.  So, here are three thoughts about my experience at the 2021 Association of Arts Administration Educators annual event.


Do you remember your first professional conference?  It was is probably intimidating: you didn’t yet know the people or the protocols.  Then you got the rhythm: you knew to wear layers and where to find the coffee station.  In the before times, we trekked across continents in pilgrimage to communal gatherings of like-minded souls where we geeked out about the latest ideas, heard from prominent keynotes, and debated theory, practice, and praxis.  RFPs polished into PPTs.  Online conferences offer new challenges and new access points.  You make your own coffee; you wear slippers; you save travel money; you stream a missed session at midnight.  And, when it’s done well, the conference purpose persists in the digital sphere.  You learn, you convene, you share, you spark, you connect.


Introverts and extroverts alike attend conferences as known and new colleagues.  I’ve been known to sit toward the back of breakout sessions, on the aisle.  As a student respondent, I was in the front row, given the chance to be first to offer feedback and ask questions, constantly encouraged by known and new colleagues (thank you).  This year I felt engaged and renewed.  This year, I know more about the colleagues whose ranks I aim to join – we’ve LinkedIn, I feel comfortable contacting any of you, and if I ever travel to Texas, I hope to meet Paula Wilson in person.  Beyond your areas of study, the Lobby Bar revealed that Anne Frost got ruby throated hummingbirds at her feeder in Canada before I did in Ohio and Ximena Varela shares a love for women’s soccer.  We may have been disembodied squares, but this was still an embodied experience.


The 2021 AAAE conference gestured toward and engaged with change.  Concepts of scale were reimagined in a course on art money (Whitaker and Pryor).  Senses and sensing shifted to the foreground to reimagine freedom, trust, risk, and support (Plummer, Wells, Sobande, Mack).  The sounds of cycles breaking echoed in complexity and frustration (Varela), in convention, disruption, and invention (Taylor).  If the opposite of hate is love, is the opposite of structure also love, which requires constant work, collaboration, and care (Bamuthi)?  How each of these voices (and more) will continue to show up in my life and work continues unfolding, but the questions and ideas are taken to heart and hand.

Bonus: Conclusion

A few more c-words to mull over: conversations, co-conspirators, continuums, challenges, costs, classrooms, campus, concepts, connections, collaborations, careers, creativity, cases, claims, commitments, conventions, centering, catalysts, comparisons, contrasts, critical, COVID.  Certainly, you’re now thinking of others.  The 2021 AAAE conference critiqued the past, present, and future.  Colleagues challenged each other to rethink what we think we know – to adapt and change.  Now, we are re/charged with re/designing for a future where we re/center the research, teaching, and learning of arts administration on humanity.

Erin J. Hoppe is passionate about lifelong learning and breaking down barriers in the cultural sector.  She is an advocate, researcher, administrator, educator, patron, and maker. Hoppe is a second year PhD student and Barnett Fellow in the Arts Administration, Education and Policy Department at The Ohio State University. Her work explores the intersections of cultural policy, professional development, and the identity of arts managers. She has an MA in Arts Administration and Policy from the same department (2009) and BA in Economics with a minor in Art History from University of California, San Diego (2003). Past professional experiences include leading VSA Ohio, a statewide nonprofit, and support positions at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Smithsonian Institution, and American Institutes for Research. In 2020, Hoppe launched a podcast called Arts Admins, Who? to capture the voices of arts administrators and their perspectives on the cultural sector. Hoppe is Chair of the Columbus Arts Marketing Association and a Certified Tourism Ambassador.