Today, we feature Felicia Brown, a graduate of Rowan’s Arts Administration masters program through Rowan Global. Currently, Ms. Brown serves as the Career and Technical Education (CTE) theatre educator at Trenton Central High School. She sits down to explain how the arts have taken her all across the world.
Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Hello! My name is Felicia Latoya Brown, and I am currently a CTE [Career and Technical Education] theatre educator at Trenton Central High School. Prior to that, I taught at Life Center Academy. I am the regional programming director for the Alliance for Theatre and Education. Along with this, I am on the board for the Ritz Theatre Company as well as a member of the Speech Theatre Association of New Jersey and the Educational Theatre Association in which I am a Thespian Troupe director.
I’ve taught short theatre programs in Kenya, Brazil and Costa Rica, one of which included drama therapy for former child prostitutes. I’ve also performed internationally in Egypt and Slovakia, and that’s just the short list.
Tell us a little bit about your educational background.
I did my undergraduate degree at Eastern University. I always tell people it was a triple major, double minor. My major was English with Communications for Secondary Education and a minor in music and theatre. Rowan was where I got my second master’s degree, which was in Arts Administration. My first master’s degree was in Theatre studies, which got me the fancy term of Theatreologist.
What made you want to pursue your second master’s at Rowan University?
What initially drew me to Rowan was their online program. I was interested in Arts Administration mainly because I have this huge crazy dream of running my own full-scale arts production company that would encompass every aspect of the arts.
I got into these classes at Rowan and every single professor asked me about my future dream business. They go, “Is it a museum? Is it a theatre? Is it a dance studio?” And I just reply, “It’s everything.”
Every professor I had definitely encouraged me and knew how amazing my dream business would be if I ever got it up and running but they wanted me to focus on just one aspect of it for their course.
Was there ever a professor who allowed you to focus on your dream in full and not just an aspect of it?
There was one professor who allowed me to come up with what my season would look like if I had my dream business up and running, which allowed me to think about it further. If I had it up and running like I want, there would be a dinner theatre, a children’s theatre, a community theatre, as well a professional equity house. That’s about four or five spaces that would have shows happening [at the same time] along with outdoor performances that would take place during the summer.
My professor wanted me to think about how I would make all of these shows connect so that I have people interested in coming and seeing shows in whatever space they may be in. I came up with a PowerPoint presentation that took you through the whole thing. It was nice for my dream to be encouraged in that way and to be able to share it with others.
How would you describe your time at Rowan?
My time at Rowan was very interesting. When I started the program, it was still under theatre arts and it was called Theatre Arts Administration. It changed to just Arts Administration while I was in the program, which was cool with me. I liked it! It was a challenge though.
One of the most challenging courses I had taken wanted me to learn QuickBooks and how to handle the financial aspects of running an organization. I was just like, “Numbers? I’m an artist! Numbers and the arts don’t go together!” It’s funny to me now, but it wasn’t an easy feat during the time. Ultimately, I’m glad I took that course because it helped me so much. I truly believe that every single person that runs any kind of artistic organization needs somebody who has gone through an arts administration program.
How have the arts education programs in New Jersey changed over the years?
There’s this beautiful learning that’s happening right now. Priscilla, a colleague I met through Rowan, works with Arts Ed New Jersey, and she told me how the program is looking to teach anti-racism through Art Education. They’re conversations happening amongst the leaders of the Artistic Educational Programs in New Jersey where these leaders sit together and ask themselves, “Alright, how do we make sure the work we bring to our students is anti-racist?” These conversations weren’t happening 10 years ago and certainly not when I was growing up. Now, they’re in the forefront of our teaching, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
How can arts educators and administrators across the country make sure they are incorporating anti-racist practices into their teaching?
It starts with just asking the right questions. To make sure educators are invoking these anti-racist practices while teaching students, they can take a step back and ask themselves: “What are things that we need to do to change? How can we make ourselves better? How can we be an anti-racist organization?”
I sit on the board for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education as regional programming director and that has been the whole thing for this past year: Asking ourselves what are the changes that we need to make in our organization to make sure more voices are heard. It’s not that we need to lose room at the table. We just need to make more room at the table for other.
Like what you see?
Bianca Gray, senior English major
Photos courtesy of:
Ritz Theatre Company photos, Steve Rogina
Life Center Academy photo, Rebekah Yeretzian