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Interview with Michael Orlove, new Director of Presenting and Artist Communities at the NEA

Michael Orlove began as the new Director of Presenting and Artist Communities at the National Endowment for the Arts this May, after serving for nearly 20 years as senior program director for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. (Read the full press release of Michael's appointment here.) Alliance of Artists Communities’ executive director Caitlin Strokosch spoke with him recently about this new role.

Caitlin: What are you most looking forward to as the new director of Presenting and Artist Communities at the NEA?
Michael: There is so much to look forward to! Having served as a panelist for the NEA in the past, I was given a little exposure to the office and many of the great staff that work there.  It always appeared to be an exciting place to work.  On that note, I am really looking forward to meeting my new colleagues, getting to know them and their work, and learning how we can all make a bigger impact on the field.  In terms of being the new director of Presenting and Artist communities, I am ecstatic that this job allows me to better familiarize and connect with the overall ‘community’ around the country.  Having worked in Chicago for the past two decades, I was more focused on the work we were doing at home.  Now I have the opportunity to really understand and comprehend the impact all of these organizations are making around the country.  It’s very exciting for me.

CS: You have an extensive background in presenting, but the artist communities field is relatively new to you.What most interests you about this field?
MO: You are correct…I spent most of my professional career as a presenter for the City of Chicago.  While my experience is limited in the artist community field I do have a solid understanding and appreciation for what these organizations bring to the wider arts landscape throughout the country. And I think Chicago has played a great role in shaping and defining what art and artists can do to elevate a community, particularly through the many residency programs that are in Chicago. I have seen this impact throughout my career and feel incredibly fortunate to be able to take an acute look into all the artist communities around the country, and work collectively to ensure that support for this field remains strong. 

CS: How do you imagine working with the Alliance in your new role?
MO: I am coming into this position with a much stronger knowledge of the Presenting field, so I really can’t emphasize enough how essential the Alliance of Artists Communities is to me in my new role.  Having the ability to communicate with the Alliance staff and tapping into the collective voice of the Alliance and its members is priceless.  The Alliance’s annual conference in Kansas City this fall will be an invaluable asset to me and help me identify ways we can work collectively to set benchmarks for the field, further define the artist/community relationship and better understand the overall impact these projects have on both a local and federal level. I can’t wait to participate, listen, and learn!

We look forward to working with you, Michael, and introducing you more to the field of artist residencies!