by Priyanshi Katare
When Laura Rensing started the MSLCE program, she wasn’t that interested in pursuing the internship option over the summer. “I’ve had work experience before this so for me it was really about finding something that would really add to my learning experience and make me feel like I was learning something new, fun and challenging,” she explains. However the pandemic changed that for her.
This summer Laura worked for Arts Alliance Chicago while simultaneously working on her applied project for the MSLCE program. Contrary to the norm, while some organizations paused their summer internship programs, her internship opened up as a result for increased support artists needed during these times. The Arts Alliance is an advocacy group engaged in fighting to make resources available to the arts community and pushes for policies that would be advantageous for its members. Their work spans civic engagement, arts education and cultural equity and they actively work to connect people across different creative communities.
“They’re working hard to talk to the governor and the federal government about getting funding for the arts and protecting artists and workers,” Laura elaborates, “ so they had a huge amount of work piled up for them and I saw their call for workers in one of the MSLCE newsletters and applied for it.”
While Laura’s work with non-profits made the process familiar, working with an advocacy group was something she had never done before. This summer she worked as a research intern for the Alliance and worked on investigating the impact of COVID on the arts sector. Through her research, she was able to explore the multifaceted impact the pandemic left on the industry in terms of finances, employment and equity.
While her role at the organization was firmly set in place, the erratic nature of the industry due to the pandemic prevented her from having a normal structured work day. “There’s always what’s coming down the pipeline right now and a lot of my work is to pull the data and try to organize and pull insights. I just try to comb out whatever can apply to the organization that week,” she explains.
Laura believes that her work would be impactful if the research she has done this summer results in increased funding for the arts by the government. “Funding is so important right now and no one knows what’s happening in the cultural sections and when we’re reopening,” she elaborates, “so if I could be part of the solution that helps an organization survive Covid, that would be the most rewarding for me.”
According to her, the MSLCE program has helped prepare her for her internship this summer by teaching her to be extremely entrepreneurial. It has helped her examine things from different perspectives. Laura’s biggest takeaway from this internship is the ability to be able to develop talking points for arts advocacy organizations and compile research that forces lawmakers to pay attention.