Jim O'Connell (Institutional Member)
Bio & Position Statement: I serve as Associate Professor and Coordinator of the undergraduate Arts Management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP). I hold an M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Graduate School of Business (Bolz Center) and an A.B. in Drama and Government from Dartmouth College. Drawing on 47 years spent managing and programming performing arts centers, I teach the fundamentals of arts management and courses in fundraising, the community and the arts, and artistic planning; and supervise arts management internships and front-of-house practica for theatre and dance students.
To remain current on organizations and opportunities in Wisconsin on behalf of my students, I serve as a regular grant review panelist for the Creation and Presentation Program of the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Community Arts Grant program of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. I was instrumental in the development of both those programs.
Among my service commitments at UWSP have been strategic planning, historic preservation, and two ad hoc working groups. The first reviewed institutional budget models. The other developed the hybrid teaching framework that was adopted for the 2020-21 academic year. For the Department of Theatre and Dance, in which our Arts Management program is housed, I was a founding member of the Allyship/Advocacy/Access committee which developed the first comprehensive departmental anti-racism plan on campus. On the strength of that plan, Theatre/Dance was selected as UWSP’s nominee for the 2022 Wisconsin Regents Award.
My students have honored me with three University Leadership Mentor Awards and an Alliance of Multicultural Diversity Organizations Inclusive Excellence Award.
As a researcher, I am fascinated by the 40-year cycle of North American performance facility construction booms and have presented various aspects of this phenomenon at regional booking conferences and the 2017 AAAE Conference in Edinburgh. I have also become curious about the names by which we describe our field, including arts administration, arts management, and arts leadership. That exploration resulted in an essay for the Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society and a panel discussion at the 2019 AAAE Conference in Madison.
I am currently treasurer and executive committee member of the Association of Arts Administration Educators. With my predecessor as treasurer, Julie Goodman of Drexel University, I co-authored a case study on the successful transition of the 2020 AAAE Conference from in-person to virtual. It is due to be published in a book of nonprofit cases this year and was the subject of a session at the 2021 virtual conference, where we were joined by former AAAE executive director Lee Ann Adams and current associate director Haley Carlson, the people to whom the credit for that success is due.
Now in my third year on the AAAE Board, I have been privileged to work with extraordinary colleagues and an amazing staff. I am particularly proud of the work we have done together through the upheavals of the past two years to maintain the stability of the organization and provide meaningful conferences, webinars, and workshops, and of the work we have begun – there is SO MUCH yet to do – to exemplify equity, diversity, and inclusion and embrace them as the overarching ethos of the organization.
There are three priority areas on which I would continue to focus during a second term on the Board:
Budget: Working with our new executive director, Milena Deleva, associate director Haley Carlson, and our colleagues on the Finance Committee to expand funding sources, provide appropriate support for our excellent staff, and infuse resources for EDI priorities into the budget. (If it’s not in the budget, it’s not a priority.)
Student Members: Advancing the work begun under Student Committee co-chair Sharbreon Plummer to bring to those new AAAE members meaningful services and opportunities for participation, and to support the EDI Fellow(s) in their projects and subsequent transition into the profession.
AAAE’s Value to You: When I left the performance presentation field eight years ago, I despaired of ever again finding so rich a community of colleagues and friends. That pessimism was misplaced. The relationships I have formed through AAAE are as profound, nurturing, and just plain fun as any I have known. I want the same for all our members. My first role as a Board member was to convene discussions on what AAAE can do for you. Echoes of those conversations are visible in our affinity groups (Student Members, Consulting, International), the monthly webinars Haley Carlson coordinates, and the online social (“Lobby Bar”) sessions during our 2021 virtual conference. There’s much more we can do to connect with one another – new affinity groups, mentorship for developing programs and new colleagues, formal and informal networking, you-name-it. (Really. Send your suggestions.) I want your AAAE membership to be the gateway to satisfying opportunities, professional and personal.
It would be my honor to continue to serve you.