Posts Tagged ‘interns’

Montgomery Traditions: More stories coming soon!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

A couple of months ago, we launched MontgomeryTraditions.Org: a multimedia experience where you can hear the stories of Montgomery County’s diverse folk and traditional artists. I chatted with John Murph, our Montgomery Traditions Producer, about what’s coming down the pipe:

MP: When the site launched, we saw a very diverse collection of stories — diverse both in nationality and in artistic discipline. What kinds of stories can we expect this time around?

John Murph

JM: We have several exciting new stories in the latest stages of production: Cheick Hamala Diabate, a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist from Mali; Lilo Gonzalez, an award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter from El Salvador; Jay Summerour, a legendary blues harmonica player from Montgomery County; and C.B. Heinemann, who performs traditional Irish music weekly at McGinty’s Public House in Silver Spring.

MP: What’s the most exciting part of collecting these stories?

JM: For me, the most exciting things include discovering the riches of your own backyard. Earlier we did one on the bluegrass guitarist Bob Perilla; this time we did one on blues harmonica player, Jay Summerour. Both genres oftentimes get overlooked in America, because they haven’t obtained the national certification of being “high art” like jazz has, nor have they retained omnipresent popularity of today’s hip-hop and pop. Sometimes we casually and very ignorantly look down at blues and bluegrass as unsophisticated, old, poor people music with very little regard how difficult it is to perform these genres, without any historical perspective or clue that these genres still thrive. So those stories are always revealing. Then there are the stories about some artists who come from other places around the world, who arrive in U.S. for better opportunities yet they haven’t forsaken the folkloric artistry and traditions of their homelands. Some of these artists come from some very harrowing, war torn countries or places, where the government or social culture can be very restrictive in terms of creative and personal expression. In each story, I was able to relate to various parts of each artists’ journey. In the end, it’s a glimpse of what makes Montgomery County so vibrant and unique.

MP: Putting together all this content is a serious undertaking. Who do you have working with you to produce it all?

JM: Well, I have two very talented, very passionate and driven interns: Jack Slattery and Violet Cavicchi. In fact, it was Jack who took the initiative to interview C.B. Heinemann. Jack visited some of his relatives in Ireland earlier this summer and wanted to show how traditional Irish music thrives in Montgomery County. Violet studies anthropology with a heavy interest in Latin American culture. She translated the Lilo Gonzalez interview from Spanish to English. Those interns brought an understanding and professional skills that enabled us to bring these stories to Montgomery Traditions website.

Violet Cavicchi, one of our Montgomery Traditions interns

MP: What is your ultimate hope in sharing these stories?

JM: Ultimately, I want people to be inspired to explore Montgomery County’s multicultural artistic scene. There’s also a diplomatic mission. The more and more we learn about people of different cultures and countries, the more unnecessary divisive walls are torn down. I think one of greatest gifts of Montgomery County is its diversity; we can easily use that to our advantage to promote community unity.

Visit MontgomeryTraditions.Org to hear stories from Montgomery County’s folk and traditional artists.

Jack’s Wild Irish Adventure

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

So I am back at the Arts and Humanities Council after a month-long stint in Ireland, visiting family and just getting in touch with those fleeting cultural roots that can sometimes be a struggle to get in touch with. That, essentially, is what Montgomery Traditions here at AHCMC is all about. And as a preface to our upcoming segment on Irish folk arts in Montgomery County, I thought I’d share a little piece about my experiences there.

For someone interning for an organization that tries to expand one-dimensional perceptions about other countries and cultures, Ireland can be a little frustrating. Because a lot (and I mean a lot) of my experiences could have passed as travel brochures published by the Irish Bureau of Tourism (unsure if that is a real institution). Folksy landladies really do offer you tea at your bed and breakfast that looks over a verdant green countryside. Some places really do seem to have more cows than people, and possibly more pubs than cows. And those pubs, much more often than not, will have traditional Irish music sessions playing in them from as early as 4:00pm to as late as 2 in the morning.

That, though, was hands down my favorite part. Some of the best music I’ve heard in my life I stumbled upon when all I had been looking for was a place to have a pint. While sessions are certainly not impromptu, they’re not advertised or even booked ahead. While some took place on a small stage, the majority of players sat on barstools or at tables, stopping intermittently to sip at their drinks as if they were simply patrons of the bar like everyone else. The bands don’t tour or sell tickets; they don’t even have names (though one of them really liked that I kept calling everything “super baller”, an Americanism which I retrospectively feel a little ashamed of bringing overseas, even more so when they decided they’d use it as their band name). The music itself isn’t really the point; its the atmosphere that music engenders, the way it makes people feel as they listen to it, and creates a small community out of a room full of strangers. It’s a pretty excellent phenomenon, and it’s probably what I miss the most about Ireland.

But as our upcoming segment on Irish music will reveal, its not something you need to travel all the way to Ireland for. There is a thriving community of Irish musicians in Montgomery County, and you only need to go as far as McGinty’s Pub in Silver Spring to find Irish music sessions of the caliber I saw during my trip. It’s something definitely worth seeing for yourself.

Rich cultural heritage: right in our backyards

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Now that the Montgomery Traditions website is finally up and running, I’m taking a little bit of time to reflect on the process as we prepare ourselves for adding even more content from more traditional arts groups from all around Montgomery County. And as I go over the stories I worked on with John Murph over the last few months, I can’t help but be impressed with the fact that so many artists have decided to make Montgomery County their home. I don’t feel that Washington D.C. gets recognized as the arts-rich city that it is, compared to New York or Chicago; Montgomery County even less so, being a suburb of Washington. But the fact is that all of these artists have decided to make Montgomery County their home. Shizumi Manale, for example, is an internationally-recognized performing artist, and after living in Japan and becoming an award-winning performing in San Francisco, she decided make permanent residency here in Montgomery County. Other artists such as Lesole Maine and Diana Saez came to Montgomery County to take advantage of the same opportunities that have drawn in a diverse international community for years. In either case, the county’s unique international appeal has led it to become a hotbed for cultural arts that I think in many ways in unparalleled. I honestly don’t think we get enough credit!

As someone who’s young and has grown up in this county for nearly all my life, I’ve faulted MoCo for being boring, drab, etc. But I think that the abundance of artists that choose to make this county the place where they live and work is an excellent litmus test of how culturally viable and important Montgomery County is. We have created a dynamic, multi-faceted community which artists from all over the world have recognized not only as an optimal environment for conducting their own projects, but as a place worth investing in culturally. We should follow their lead and be proud of our county and the art it facilitates and produces.

Interns + social media = <3?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Photo via Reuters

The Fall semester is just around the corner, and I’ve got interns on the brain (we’re looking for some good ones, by the way!) While skimming through my Twitter feed yesterday, I found a link to this article: “Does an intern run your social media?” The article discusses pros and cons to having an intern manage an organization’s social media.

Managing the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account seems to be the lot in life for any marketing, communications and PR intern in almost any industry. Time is spent designing the page, posting updates, seeking out new followers, engaging the audience, uploading pictures, etc. Luckily, most interns enjoy it (at least I did!). There’s something exciting about applying skills during your workday from an area you’re so comfortable in, and something very rewarding about watching your organization engage people on a platform they didn’t already.

Pros to having interns manage your organization’s social media? They’re savvy, knowledgeable about new media and have an intuitive sense of social media etiquette — they just know what works, whether or not they can articulate the why or how. However, they’re new to your organization, they might not have a full understanding of your constituents and audience, they might skew your organization’s “voice” and after three months, they’re gone, leaving your Twitter feed and Facebook page looking like a ghost town. Where’s the middle ground?

As a former intern of AHCMC and other arts organizations, I’ve been really fortunate to have interned for supervisors that have trusted me with their brand and messaging. That trust is essential to having a valuable internship experience, and being micro-managed is never a growing experience for any professional, whatever level they may be.

However, I understand some of the concern. Once you establish a voice, it can be hard to hand it over to the organization’s newbie. And whether we like it or not, our one-liner tweets and Facebook wall posts are treated as mini press releases. I mean, the Library of Congress is archiving all public tweets!

My opinion? If they use social media themselves and are cognizant of social media etiquette, interns should be able view what your organization has posted before and write their posts accordingly, with a bit of supervision here and there if needed.

What are your thoughts? Is this an issue you come across at your organization?