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"SALONGESPRÄCH" / TALK | Women Leaders in Culture and Arts: Going beyond the obvious

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.
— Ruth Bader Ginsburg

We all know the facts: Women are still dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in the world of arts and culture (and not only there by the way) and thus role models of women leaders are more important than ever. But underlying assumptions about gender and leadership run deep in society and are hard to change, even in a “progressive” and creative field like the arts. One way to achieve this is to expand our definition of who is a “powerful leader” and what constitutes “meaningful” representation of women.   

Can women leaders increase the power that culture and arts has for a broader public discourse? Are organizations that embrace innovation and fresh ways of thinking about their interaction with the public also more equitable? Does a more meaningful representation of women lead to a less “elitist” image of art and culture in the broad public, outside of urban cities?

We tried to discuss these questions together on the occasion of this year's International Women’s Day. The ACF Washington organized together with the Institute for Women Policy Research a “Salongespräch” / panel discussion about women leaders in culture and arts and which impact, except reaching the 50% representation, women in the art world can have for the communities they work for and with.


Director of the Frauenmuseum Hittisau (Austria)

Board President, ArtTable  

Senior Chief Diversity Officer, The Phillips Collection

Moderated by TOM MINTER, playwright and author

The discussion was followed by a Q&A session and an Austrian wine and cheese reception.

When: Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 7:00 pm
Where: Austrian Cultural Forum Washington/Embassy of Austria
3524 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008


Stefania Pitscheider Soraperra | Director of the Frauenmuseum Hittisau

Photo | © Ines Agostinelli

Photo | © Ines Agostinelli

Stefania Pitscheider Soraperra is an art and architecture historian, curator and cultural manager. As a co-founder of the artist collective WochenKlausur, she organized diverse projects at the intersection of art and social affairs (Secession Wien, Steirischer Herbst, Progetto Civitella d’Agliano, La Biennale di Venezia, Shedhalle Zürich and others). She has worked at the Kunsthalle Wien, the Shedhalle Sankt Pölten as well as the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and managed the art fair ArtDesign Feldkirch. Since 2009 she is the director of the Frauenmuseum Hittisau, Austria’s only women’s museum and worldwide the first located in a rural area. The museum was founded in 2000 with the main objective to uncover, visualize and document cultural work about or by women.

Whitney Rutter | President of the Board of Directors of ArtTable

Photo | © Whitney Rutter

Photo | © Whitney Rutter

Whitney Rutter is the Director of Business Strategy at Local Projects, an Exhibit and Media Design firm in NYC. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of ArtTable, a non-profit organization dedicated to women leadership in the visual arts. She has over fifteen years of experience in the museum industry in design, technology, and fundraising. She previously held senior positions at Antenna International, Patron Technology, and within Membership and Development at The Museum of Modern Art. Whitney holds a MA in International Affairs from CUNY Graduate Center and a BA in Cultural Studies (Art & Environmental Science) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Makeba Clay | Senior Chief Diversity Officer of the Phillips Collection

Photo | © Rhiannon Newman

Photo | © Rhiannon Newman

Makeba Clay is the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer at The Phillips Collection, providing leadership, vision, and strategy for implementing an institution-wide inclusion plan. Makeba is a dynamic and engaging global leader who has had a distinguished career that has garnered accolades from professional associations, international organizations and national publications. She was bestowed the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award by INSIGHT Magazine in 2015 and has been featured in “Diverse Issues in Higher Education” and seen on CNN and ABC News. A nationally recognized diversity and inclusion expert and leadership strategist with more than 20 years of experience in the field, Makeba has developed a significant track record of transformational contributions toward organizational equity, diversity, and inclusion goals in higher education and cultural organizations. She has presented keynote addresses, lectures and workshops at local, state, national and international conferences on issues related to diversity and inclusion, women’s leadership and empowerment, social justice, and organizational change.

Tom Minter | Playwright and author

Photo | © Tom Minter

Photo | © Tom Minter

Tom Minter works as a Teaching Artist with Kennedy Center Education, and Stanford in Washington. He is a playwright and author whose immersive theatre work specializes in issues of diversity, and the tapestry of identity in creating community. In 2017 he was commissioned to create a work on the lives, legacy and artistry of two singing icons, women of color, Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. The resulting work, entitled The me I Want To Sing, was premiered on the Millennium Stage, and will be mounted again April 13th, 2019, in the Family Theatre at the Kennedy Center. As a Teaching Artist his work in DCPS classrooms, and DC Community Libraries, continues to support Arts Integration capacities, threading curriculum in a diverse journey of creative writing content.


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