Michael DeLong, Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA
Michael DeLong joined the volunteer team of Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA because of his interest in arts and culture. Now, as a leader of the organization, he helps raise awareness of arts sector issues while developing his own professional skills in his free time.
Michael (center) with fellow volunteers Bea Dominguez and Chida Chaemchaeng.
Michael DeLong is no stranger to nonprofit communications. He has a full-time job as a senior manager in online community and social media at TechSoup, a well-known nonprofit capacity builder in the Bay Area. So you'd think that when choosing volunteer positions in his free time, he'd want to do something different.
Quite the contrary. Michael finds that his volunteer work as the communications manager at Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA is a wonderful supplement to his full time work, and gives him additional energy to use his skills to make a difference.
Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA (EAP) is a network that connects Bay Area arts and culture workers to each other, and to the field at large. Through knowledge sharing, learning opportunities and partnerships, they hope to provide a path for the meaningful work of individuals, and to stimulate a vibrant arts and culture sector.
In addition to his volunteer communications work for EAP, Michael is also part of the leadership team that organizes the fellowship program. His involvement with the organization has grown incrementally over time.
Three years ago, Michael started participating in online conversations and attending events hosted by EAP. He then decided to become a media fellow, which he found so satisfying that he stayed on and joined the leadership team to continue his work and help develop the program.
The core group EAP originally served consisted of arts administrators who were deeply entrenched in that sector. However, it has now expanded to include many people, like Michael, who have moved into other sectors in order to sustain themselves and grow their careers.
"Unfortunately, there is a dearth of opportunities in the arts sector that pay a living wage and offer leadership opportunities," says Michael. "It's part of why EAP exists. Being in EAP is a way for me to stay connected to the arts in an environment that stresses innovation, experimentation, support and collaboration."
When Michael joined the fellowship, he was a bit nervous that he was actually working outside an arts institution. But he was surprised to find several others in both the fellowship and the leadership group in the same boat. "While on the one hand it says something disconcerting about the state of the sector," Michael relates, "It's also inspiring to know I am not alone, and to be fostering cross-sector pollination. Fresh ideas come from many quarters!"
Michael has found being the managing editor of the EAP blog to be particularly inspiring. "Our network is full of so many smart, creative, driven folks who are constantly doing interesting things," he says.
As Michael explains, he and EAP use the blog as a platform to elevate the voices of their community by tapping into all the things they are learning and doing and getting them to share in a way that is useful for others in the sector. "It consistently renews my energy and interest in everything that's out there," he says.
In his daily work, Michael is mainly focused on social media and online community. Working with EAP has allowed him to branch out and get his hands dirty with a wider range of communications duties. He's been able to grow his skills in areas like PR, marketing, branding and content strategy, not to mention leadership skills. "It's a great outlet for spearheading ideas and seeing them through, and working collaboratively to do so," Michael says.
"It's helped me bring a fresh perspective to all my work, and see connections and possibilities I hadn't before," he continues. "It's also introduced me to an inspiring group of dedicated people that sustains my energy and faith in the arts sector."
Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA
Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA is a network focused on empowerment, leadership, and growth of next generation arts and culture workers in the San Francisco Bay Area through knowledge sharing, learning opportunities, and partnerships.
Emerging Arts Professionals
c/o Intersection for the Arts
925 Mission Street, Suite 109
San Francisco, CA 94103
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