The Katherine Dunham Fellowship is a 16-week learning opportunity designed to prepare African-American individuals who have been historically under-represented in the field of arts administration for careers in the nonprofit arts and culture sector. When Allena Brazier applied for the fall 2018 fellowship, she thought she didn’t have enough experience and she’d be lucky to get it. During her time at A&E she will be learning about arts adminstration while developing a plan for opening an art gallery. At the end of her first month, we sat down with her to learn more about the experience thus far with A&E and the past fellows.

What has your experience been like in the fellowship?

The team at A&E asked themselves, “What does success look like for you?” They were thinking of me. [Creating a business plan for my nonprofit] is tangible and I can take it and have it for many years. For the gallery idea, it’s always been just an idea. I only told my family. During the application process, I wrote it down for the first time and told someone else. It’s like speaking my idea into existence. I’ve been doing a lot of research and learning how to really get ahold of my why. That has been an interesting process because I knew why I wanted to do it, but to write it out into a business template it’s becoming its own thing.

You’ve said you want to open an art gallery in your hometown of East St. Louis. Can you tell us more about that?

I want to build civic pride and create something for the people of East St. Louis to show them that you can start something and you don’t have to leave. Or if you leave to always remember there’s a place for you here that’s positive.

I know the older generation talks about what [East St. Louis] used to be like. I want to bring that back because I can see that happening. We’re right across from St. Louis and we’re on the river people pass us all the time. I can see the economic boom happening, especially in art because we are an arts-based community with Miles Davis, Katherine Dunham, Tina Turner and a lot of artists. I think it can happen.

What has it been like getting to know the previous Katherine Dunham fellows?

The first fellow I met was on the phone – Sarah – and she gave me advice about taking the opportunity to learn – really listening to people. The fellows are really helpful. I’ve never met a group of young people who are passionate about their futures. It’s a great experience especially because I have never had that connection with a young person on a passionate level.

Spring 2019 Katherine Dunham Fellow Applications open October 1 through 29.

Apply today!

The Katherine Dunham Fellowship is supported by individual donors. To keep programs like the Katherine Dunham Fellowship happening, make a gift to A&E today.