Following last year's Question + Create: A Harvard Alumni Gathering on the Arts, we sat down with Harvard Ed Portal's Arts Program Manager Eva Rosenberg '10 to chat about the role of the Ed Portal in the community, its programming and impact, and her own involvement with the arts.
What is the Harvard Ed Portal and what is your role as Arts Program Manager?
The Harvard Ed Portal is like a sandbox for Harvard and Allston-Brighton: we get to explore what's possible when the university and the community convene around learning opportunities and access to resources. Working as the Arts Program Manager is a dream job for me because every day is different and the work has purpose. Sometimes I'm deep in curatorial work, programming performances or film screenings in our theatre space or planning exhibitions for our gallery or public art commissions along Western Ave. Other days, it's all about developing creative economy programs to try to answer the question of how we can help artists in the neighborhood survive and thrive. I get to collaborate with partners across the university and the city to build a hub of arts and creativity in a neighborhood already rich with cultural assets.
What types of arts-related programming has the Harvard Ed Portal previously hosted?
The arts program has two different kinds of offerings: audience-focused and artist-focused. We are an arts presenter offering opportunities to experience the arts via visual, performing, media, and teaching events. On that front, we hosted an exhibition called Romance and Reality: Posters from the Russian Revolution, a collaboration with Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies marking the centennial of the Revolution, and we had a printmaking workshop and a film screening in conjunction with that exhibition. We also work to support the professional development of artists and creatives through technical assistance and capacity-building programs, and were proud to see some of our partner artists win state-wide awards and receive funding via the Boston Cultural Council earlier last year.
What's the relationship between the Harvard Ed Portal and the community with respect to programming and education?
Since the Ed Portal exists to serve the community and provide access to Harvard's resources, we are always programming with the needs of Allston-Brighton residents in mind. We know there is a lot of interest in arts learning opportunities for youth and adults, and so one of our focus areas this year is on scaling up that programming and ensuring quality and consistency. Often those programs take place either in one-time workshop formats or in week-long youth arts intensives, and I'm delighted to say that we are working on many of both for 2017-18. We've also created a Ceramics Community Scholarship in collaboration with Harvard Ceramics to provide increased access to their world-class facilities and are excited to award the fourth and fifth scholarships this fall. Education is a common thread of all our work, too. For example, our documentary film screening series always features post-screening conversations with the directors and Harvard experts because we believe that leveraging Harvard's intellectual resources in that way enriches the experience of attending the screening and offers something unique to our audience.
In what ways can Harvard alumni get involved and learn more about Harvard Ed Portal's work?
As an alum myself, I've been thrilled to connect with other alums looking to get involved in what the Ed Portal is doing. I love the chance to sit down with folks and explore how their talents may connect to what we do, whether in the arts program or elsewhere. There are opportunities to teach an art form, assist job seekers, mentor small businesses, take part in community learning exchanges, and more. While we don't have a formal volunteer program, we are open to hearing your ideas - please reach out!
On a more personal note, what was your earliest "art spark" or impetus for an interest in the arts?
I am a little bit of a late bloomer in my commitment to the arts, mostly because it wasn't until after college that I saw the possibility of making a career in the arts as a non-artist. I acted in two plays my senior year of high school after I got into college and felt I had time to explore some passions outside of what was going on my resume. I was not very good, but I loved it, and that connection to performance stuck with me. It turned out that I was a better administrator than I was an actor, and after college, a part-time job working in the box office of a music venue turned into an audio engineering role, then festival management, and eventually the work I love now at the Ed Portal.