Shaping the Future of Curation Aug 14, 2020

On the Boards has launched a new Curatorial Fellowship program!

On the Boards fosters a space for transformative and critical discourse. Artists’ ideas about racial justice, systemic power, and economic systems have the potential to transform lives, provide succor, and define safe space. On the Boards is also a place for organizing and revolutionizing the way art is made, supported, and viewed. We believe in freedom of expression and honor artistic risk as an essential element of a civil society.   

In the Fall of 2020, during a time of great change in our community and the world, On the Boards will engage a Curatorial Fellow who, in collaboration with Artistic Director Rachel Cook, will for develop, research, and realize performances, public programs, and other events to support and express the artistic vision of the organization and fulfill On the Boards’ mission. The Curatorial Fellow has the opportunity to conceive, develop, and implement designated performances, commissioned projects, discursive public programs, and publications for On the Boards. Receiving regular mentorship and on-the-job training, this fellow will connect to a national and international network of curatorial and producers in the field.  

On the Boards sees this Fellowship as one step toward implementing structures, policies, and practices for inclusive decision-making and other forms of power sharing at various levels of the organization. The Curatorial Fellowships will be an active part of shaping On the Boards’ next chapter and helping to contribute to its exciting creative future.  

Read more about the 2020/21 Curatorial Fellowship 

This Curatorial Fellowship idea has been brewing as an idea behind the scenes for some time. Recently, On the Boards worked with Seattle University Masters of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership students Ellen McGivern and Linnea Ingalls as Curatorial Interns. We have also worked with Seattle artists, Eli Steffen and Jordan Macintosh-Hougham, who approached us with interest about project-based internships centered around Northwest New Works Festival and Dani Tirrell, an artist we commissioned and presented, has worked with us in a number of different capacities over the years, first as part of the Ambassador Program, a curator of an Open Studio program, and Dani was the co-curator of this year’s Solo: A Festival of Dance. In addition, this past year there were four artists co-curators of our Performance Lab program; KT Kusmaul, Matt Aguayo, HATLO, and Dakota Camacho all co-curated 2019/20 OtB Performance Labs in partnership with On the Boards Curatorial Administrator Charles Smith. As part of this work, we also began a Curatorial Reading Group with Minna Lee and Fiore Grey this year, and a weekly ART Chat series with all staff where various texts and videos of performances were discussed. All of this work from these incredible individuals and creative thinkers has led us to this moment, and we deeply thank each of them for their contribution to the organization’s growth and artistic programming.

Community responses to this new position:  

“Working with On the Boards was a really powerful experience for me. The mentorship I received from the whole staff really opened up what I thought curation could be and exposed me a breadth of new artists and ideas. The faith Rachel showed to my vision and her willingness to engage tough questions allowed me to grow as a curator and an artist.”- Eli Steffen, former OtB Curatorial Intern  

“In a time of unprecedented separation and course correction it is essential to uphold our mission of connecting artists to diverse communities. Introspection, study, discussion and sharing institutional knowledge and resources maintains our commitment to artists in a time when live presentations aren't possible.  We’re invigorated by the vision of the fellowships and excited to share the multiplicity of perspectives they will bring.”- Davora Lindner, OtB Board President, Founder Prairie Underground  

“Speaking as a Board member, it's exciting to see this program develop into a paid position that has the potential to make much needed change in arts leadership. I hope the Curatorial Fellowship program can be a model for meaningful ways to nurture new voices in curatorial practice, both at On the Boards and throughout the arts landscape.”- Ruth Keating Lockwood, former OtB Board President, Director Oxbow