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October 1, 2019

Kat Rich: Bridging Community and the Arts

Kat Rich is driven by creativity. From her background in nonprofits to becoming the education director at Carbondale Arts, Kat’s extensive knowledge of arts management has led her to launch unique community arts projects and help make arts education accessible. We asked Kat about her work at Carbondale Arts and advice for students looking to pursue a career in community arts.

Q: Can you tell us about your background in arts and culture? What inspired you to pursue a master’s degree?

Creativity has always been a part of my life. I am a visual artist and performer. I have worked in the nonprofit world for the last 11 years. The time came for me to move up the ladder, and I did not feel that I had the skills needed to advance. The master’s in Arts and Culture Management was a perfect fit for me.

Q: What does the day-to-day look like in your current role at Carbondale Arts?

My days involve a lot of interpersonal communication. I spend most of my time making phone calls, sending emails, and meeting face-to-face with clients and donors. The rest of my time is filled checking in on classes on the bus, assisting teachers when needed, and observing our programs in action.

Q: How has your education at University College been beneficial in your current role?

This degree has made it possible for me to understand better the nuances of the world of arts-related nonprofits, as they are different animals. My skills to build relationships with donors and forge community partnerships have improved greatly as well. I have realized that all problems are solvable, it’s just a matter of how one approaches them.

Q: What project have you done in your current role that you are most proud of?

I am fortunate to say that I have enjoyed EVERY project I have been a part of since I became involved with Carbondale Arts. Favorites on the Rosybelle Makerbus include the facilitation of two public mural projects by local students, and a DJ/turntable music editing camp hosted by Fort Collins DJ Full Metal. Another immensely enjoyable portion of my job is offering free arts education programming to schools and community centers across the valley. Knowing that I have been able to build a successful education program that truly does have an impact on my community is also something I am most proud of.

Q: What do you think is next for the world of community arts? What trends might appear in the next few years?

The arts are becoming more and more accessible to everyone. It is no longer about “high arts” with big price tags that are only experienced or understood by a small handful of people. In my experience within my own community, finding ways for people to connect with the arts in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them on a personal level is the best way to help connect people to creative endeavors.

Q: What advice do you have for students looking to advance their career in community arts? 

Get involved! Get to know your community and participate in it. So much of what we do is about RELATIONSHIPS, so building that skill is critical. Learn a lot of different facets and arenas within the nonprofit world. Being a jack of all trades is really valuable. Never be afraid to ask questions or seek mentorship/advice from those in the know.

Take good care of your personal self and well-being. Our field demands an immense amount of energy so be sure to nurture the things that sustain you. Make time to be creative and participate in artistic pursuits. Lastly, don’t take yourself or your field too seriously! Keep a sense of humor and an open mind and you will go far.

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