Updated online, 1/26
The Arts Initiative announced Lauren Pearson as the new associate director of programming administration on Friday.
The position was created in September, following the departure of Chad Miller, the Arts Initiative's associate director of faculty and student outreach.
Although the appointment was not created in response to the "Save the Arts Initiative" petition in November, the restructuring is "intended to help us better achieve my vision for the Arts Initiative's future," Executive Director of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre Melissa Smey wrote in an email.
The petition, whose requests included a call for the appointment of an executive director whose sole job is to direct the Arts Initiative and the creation of a CUarts advisory committee, includes about 1,300 signatures from students and alumni.
"My intention was to expand the role to include not just communication and outreach, but also program development and financial management," Smey added.
Pearson will oversee programming initiatives including Columbia Nights, Creative Conversations, and Museum Meetups.
“I’m so thrilled,” Smey said in an interview about Pearson's appointment. “We were lucky. We worked with the University’s director of recruitment on the search because this a really important appointment ... Lauren’s background in visual arts is a really wonderful complement both for my background but also for the background of our team.”
Pearson said she not only hopes to meet with student arts groups, but she would also like to work with “the medical field and the engineers and the math and the scientists, because I’m a big believer in interdisciplinarianism under the arts rubric.”
Pearson has worked in the visual arts in New York, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Providence. She comes to Columbia as the former communications director for the Armory Show in New York City and Art Platform—Los Angeles.
“Coming from a visual arts background, one of the most important things I want to focus on are expanded access to our Passport Programs—specifically the museum partners that I’m fortunate to have some very good relationships with,” Pearson said. “Whether that’s creating more Museum Meetups or bringing museum staff to campus—that’s something I’m definitely happy to work on.”
“I think also becoming a place where people can sit and talk to me about programming ideas or concerns, or just opening the conversation a bit more to everyone.”
In order to continue this conversation, Pearson will begin to hold office hours on Feb. 1 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Dodge 202. Students should stop by Dodge 201 to check in beforehand.