Artists working as administrators in cultural institutions are real effectors of change within the arts ecosystem. Their labor keeps institutions afloat day-to-day, and their consciousness as artist and worker keeps employing institutions relevant and responsive to common needs across the field. Their love and commitment to artists is in surplus to their professional experience and responsibilities—and vulnerable to exploitation in institutions focused on self-preservation. It is not uncommon to find arts workers underhired or navigating traumatic stress due to misaligned leadership priorities. As more arts workers begin to organize for healthier and more regulated workplaces, institutions that are structured to avoid liability and disparagement miss the mark on loving arts workers back.
⚙️Admin is a volunteer-run cohort of arts administrators who collectivized in 2016 to share skills, practice advocacy, and build capacity for artists and arts workers in uncertain times. Commissioned for TITLE TBD, ⚙️Admin 2016—2020 is a publication that reflects on the last four years of their activities. It is a timely starter kit for arts workers in other communities to explore and readapt. Highlights include:
—Rehearsing Solidarity (2020) with the New Museum Union, a scenario-planning workshop drawing on real-life stories of unionization and solidarity-building in crisis
—Intro to Theatre of the Oppressed (2019) with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC offers theatre games that show how systems of oppression appear in workplace dynamics or between cultural institutions and communities. Tools encourage the “de-mechanization” of learned power dynamics
—Righteous Rage (2018) with Monica O. Montgomery, a workshop advocating for how to fuel raw anger in professional settings, towards the better treatment of people of color in arts institutions
⚙️️Admin is a space for arts administrators to support one another, discuss pressing issues, and workshop new forms of cultural institutions. ⚙️️Admin does so by developing resources and organizing events that draw on personal experience and a collaborative spirit. Based in New York City, ⚙️️Admin's core members are Tracy Fenix, Noé Gaytán, Melissa Liu, Natalia Nakazawa, Kira Simon-Kennedy and David Xu Borgonjon.