Elevator Chat: Krista R. Bradley, Executive Director, BlackRock Center for the Arts
BlackRock Center for the Arts, the leading venue for the performing and visual arts in Upper Montgomery County provides the highest level of quality performances, free gallery exhibitions, and art education classes. Now in it its 13th season, reaching more than 17,000 people per year, Black Rock presents performances from top regional, national and international touring talent from the worlds of pop, jazz, roots, rock, blues, folk, world and classical music, and dance/theater for young audiences and families.
MSAC: What is your background in the arts?
KB: I’ve been in arts administration for 25+ years having worked for a number of opera companies, dance companies, and funding agencies in various leadership and management positions – from programming, to education, to marketing, and development. I ran a national commissioning and audience development initiative for Opera America and the Wallace Fund and before BlackRock, I was the performing arts program officer at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, a regional arts organization, for six years. I’m a musician (piano) and long-time choral and a cappella singer and I recently took up drawing and painting a few years ago.
MSAC: How long have you been executive director at BlackRock Center for the Arts? In addition, what do you enjoy most about the position?
KB: I’ve been ED for three years having joined BlackRock in August of 2012. I love making the arts accessible to a broad and diverse community. I love championing the arts in Upper Montgomery County, one of the largest and fasting growing regions in the state. In this position, I also curate our performing arts season. I love finding interesting, exciting and inspiring artists and work around the country or around the world and bringing it to our own stages. To see our community experience the wonder and excitement of a new artist, genre or company is such a great high. Programming is like going Christmas shopping and finding the perfect gift for people we care about – our community and patrons – and surprising them with things they love or are delightfully unexpected.
MSAC: Why did you decide to become a panelist for the MSAC?
KB: I was asked! In addition, I felt like I wanted to give back to the arts community in our state. MSAC does so much to support our work and us. It feels good to give back and share our own expertise on behalf of state arts community.
MSAC: What aspects of the evaluation process do you enjoy most?
KB: The site visits give such insight into the inner workings of an organization and really help an application come to life for panelists. They give you an opportunity to probe and encourage more discussion about aspects of the application.
MSAC: Is there anything you take away from the panel experience that helped you at BlackRock?
KB: Serving as a panelist is one of the best professional development opportunities an arts leader can get. You become a sharper and even more accurate writer. In addition, you will more rigorously review whether what you’re articulating is clear to those may have no idea what you do or who you are. It’s easy to take things for granted when you write a lot of proposals. Reading other proposals inspired us to talk about some aspects of our work differently.
MSAC: What advice would you give to those who would like to become an MSAC grants review panelist?
KB: Do it! Give back to the arts community and the entity that does so much to ensure we have the resources and support we need to operate and thrive.