United Arts Council

Internship Creates Pipeline for Emerging Arts Leaders

May 25, 2023

[Raleigh, NC] — If art is a reflection of life, then arts leaders should reflect the communities they serve. Therefore, the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County (United Arts) created the Internship for Diverse and Emerging Arts Leaders (IDEAL). This summer the Wake County arts community will welcome four undergraduate students to participate in this ten-week, paid, internship program that pairs students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in arts leadership with local arts organizations and mentors across Wake County. Interns will be working in the industry in Wake County from June 5 – August 11, 2023.

United Arts believes that when more leaders from different backgrounds are represented at the top levels of arts management, young people have recognizable landmarks from their own culture and identity to help create their own career paths. With the pause of a similar program run by Americans for the Arts,* IDEAL is now the only active program of its kind for undergraduates in the Southeast. United Arts hopes IDEAL can become a model for systemic national arts leadership change.

During their time in the IDEAL program, students will gain hands-on arts administrative experience and participate in leadership training and professional development. Each of the interns’ mentors will provide insight into the arts sector and demonstrate how individuals with varying career paths and life experiences can support the arts.

Alhanna Cancel-Roman, an intern from last summer, said, “I really couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity! I’ve been able to learn more about my interests in art and celebrate my culture at the same time.” 

A study on arts managers across the U.S. from Americans for the Arts (2013) found that 86% of all respondents and 92% of CEOs self-identified as white. The research further suggests that leaders of color were not advancing to senior positions due to structural and institutional racism, limited access to senior-level arts administrators of color, and a disconnected professional community of peers.

The IDEAL program helps students gain skills, networks, and experiences that will prepare them for leadership roles after they graduate. When more people with diverse backgrounds are hired, more stories have the opportunity to be told allowing more perspectives of life to be represented.

For more information or to schedule interviews with interns or host organizations, contact Kelly Schrader, Community Programs Coordinator, at [email protected].

Meet the Future Arts Leaders:

Mona Abraham (she/her)
Senior at NC State University
Studying Art & Design, Fibers, and Fashion

Mona is an emerging artist and fashion designer operating out of Raleigh, NC. Raised in the suburbs of both Atlanta and Charlotte, the rich culture of their respective artist scenes, as well as her exposure to various forms of fine art and music, influenced her current tastes. She hopes to design solutions for sustainable practices and systems in fashion.

Mona will be working at Artspace with their residency program, and her mentor will be the multi-talented Krystal Argentin, aka Krystal DaMuse of S.P. Productions.

Sophia Foster (she/her)
2023 Graduate from NC State University
Communication Media, Film Studies

Sophia was born and raised in Durham, NC. In her free time, she loves drawing, painting, and reading, along with making whatever show or movie she has been watching become her “friends’ and family’s problem!” Sophia hopes to attend graduate school for film and television production with the goal of becoming a showrunner and film producer.

Sophia will be working at the National Women’s Theatre Festival, and her mentor will be Christopher Everett, Filmmaker and Artistic Director of the Southern Documentary Fund.

Anna Hansen (she/they)
Sophomore at NC State University
Studying Communication Media, Film Studies

Anna was born and raised in Charlotte but moved to Raleigh to study media and film at NC State with plans to graduate in the spring of 2025. She is a photographer for her school’s newspaper, and she hopes to find a photography career helping people feel more confident with themselves in front of the camera.

Anna will be working with Arts Access to help launch its new brand, and her mentor will be photographer and photojournalist, Cornell Watson.

Maya McCall (they/he)
Sophomore at NC State University
Studying Applied Education Studies: Learning, Design & Technology

Maya McCall was born in Wilmington, NC and has lived abroad in Bogota, Colombia and Salvador, Brazil. He is currently on the master’s degree track that would allow him to graduate with his bachelor’s by Spring 2025 and master’s by 2026. He is an active participant in the arts; having choreographed and performed for two musicals at NC State. Maya hopes to go into the educational arts field.

Maya will be working at The Justice Theater Project, and his mentor will be Jose Rondon, Jr., Conservatory Director at NC Theatre.


About United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County:

The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council as the official local arts agency for Wake County. As a private nonprofit, United Arts has worked for more than 30 years to build a better Raleigh and Wake County through the support of and advocacy for the arts. United Arts partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to provide life-changing arts programming and support to our schools and community, resources and opportunities for artists, and arts integration training for teachers. Learn more at UnitedArts.org


*PROGRAM NOTE: In 2022, United Arts administered its first Americans for the Arts’ Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) internship program in Wake County. Five interns were selected out of 48 applicants from across the United States. While the program had been successful for the past 29 years, Americans for the Arts paused their nationwide facilitation of DIAL for the summer of 2023. United Arts felt that the impact of the internship program was significant, not only for the interns but also for the organizations and communities where they worked. To fill this gap, United Arts created IDEAL based on the structure and success of DIAL.

Jun 20

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7:30 pm–9:30 pm

Optimistic and strong, Cephus Miles is content to work the land on the small North Carolina farm he inherited from his family.

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