Meet an Emerging Arts Leader: Hannah Rechtschaffen

​We're partnering with Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia to introduce you to some of the exciting arts and cultural professionals working on behalf of our sector. This month's interview is with Hannah Rechtschaffen.

Number of years working in the arts: 
I have been working in the arts for the last three years, but I have been acting and directing in some capacity for the last twenty years.

I have a B.A. in Theatre; minor in History from Oberlin College; and am about to have a Master's in Arts Administration (graduating mid-March!) from Drexel. 

Current occupation: 
I am a Research Associate and Project Planner with the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University.

Other work experience in the arts: 
I was the Artistic Director for The Montford Park Players in Asheville, North Carolina (NC's longest-running outdoor Shakespeare festival) prior to coming to Philadelphia, and before that I worked in the pa industry as director of a Spa|Salon for Innovative Spa Management in Asheville. After that experience, I cannot help but count the spa and salon professionals I worked with as a true extension of the arts community. 

What keeps you engaged and passionate when it comes to arts and culture? 
It's a really interesting time to be a part of the arts and culture sector. With the identification and trend of creative placemaking as a vital, often arts- and artist-led way of activating a space, a neighborhood, a town, arts and culture aesthetics and experiences are being sought after in a different way. There is a better defined, understood spot at the place-building table for the arts, and I am excited by that. People working in arts and culture positions deserve to have their hard work be an economically viable way to support themselves, and this is one way that shift continues in that direction, as artists, arts leaders, and cultural organizations are more vocal about their role in the creative economy. It is a rapid change that is rippling through the field, and I am inspired talking to people across sectors who realize the value of arts and culture and seek to partner in innovative ways.

What’s the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your current job? 
I currently work on a team that boasts a wide array of skills, many of which I have less experience with, and my learning curve has been steep and exciting. I learn new things about city planning, academia, community building's something different every day. That is very rewarding. And I love working in an office that is a part of the creative process of the University as a whole, and how it curates and evolves its "place" in University City, Philadelphia, and internationally. 

How did you get involved with Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia? How does being active with EAL:P fit in with your long-term career goals?
I became involved with Emerging Arts Leaders through the board of my graduate program. As the Vice President of the Arts Administration Graduate Association board, I am the liaison to the EAL:P board. Being active with EAL:P is a huge boon in being a member of the Philadelphia arts community, which is both robust and increasingly impactful on the city as a whole. I am passionate about the role of the arts in an evolving economy and being a part of EAL:P brings me in contact with other arts practitioners and professionals who are approaching their role in the sector in inspired and inspiring ways. I would like to ultimately be in a position to consult in our sector and the more I can learn from my colleagues, the more valuable I can be to the field in the long term. 

Have you had any mentors also working in this sector who have had a significant impact on your professional development? 
The director of my program at Drexel, Julie Hawkins, has had a great impact on my professional life since I came to Philadelphia. She and I got into a conversation about arts funding early on, and she invited me to sit on a grant panel for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund shortly thereafter. It was a whole new experience for me and kind of shot me off in another direction professionally. I began interning with PCF after that and that was a deep dive into the arts scene in Philly, how it's structured, how it's funded, and what the history is. Julie has continued to be a part of my development through school and otherwise, and I will certainly continue to seek her counsel and conversation after I graduate in March. 

In your opinion, what is the most significant issue arts leaders will have to grapple with in the next 10 years? 
I think arts leaders will have to take a more proactive role in the creative economy, blurring some of the lines around monetary value and arts activities than we are generally comfortable with. We all know that the arts have value, but many have trouble making financial requests for that value, and I think that that will change as art becomes a more in-demand part of the city and community development process. We'll need to deepen our comfortability with explaining that the arts are our livelihood and a beneficial part of all our lives. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself. 
I played rugby in college, for Oberlin and for the all-Ohio rugby team, and find playing rugby to be more relaxing than doing yoga...for me :)