George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Arts Management Graduate Student Christina Papanicolaou Helps Organize COVID-19 Focused Arts Town Hall for D.C.-Area Non-profits

May 12, 2020

Christina Papanicolaou

Christina Papanicolaou

On April 14, hundreds of artists and arts managers throughout the D.C. area joined together online, for a COVID-19 town hall focused on arts—the D.C. Metro Virtual Town Hall: Strategies for Survival in the Arts—organized by the Third Space Network. Panels of art leaders, policy makers, curators, and artists lined up to share resources, answer questions, and support the vibrant arts community in the midst of a global pandemic. Managing the chat and communications for the massive event was George Mason Arts Management Graduate Student Christina Papanicolaou.

Papanicolaou is a first generation American with parents from Greece and Hong Kong. Before joining the master’s degree program, she earned an MFA in painting and critical theory from Central Saint Martins in London. In addition to being an artist, Papanicolaou lived in New York City for most of her life where she founded E.TAY Gallery, a contemporary art space for recent graduate students. Her dual identity as artist and manager makes her acutely aware of the crisis that COVID-19 is creating for local artists and arts organizations.

Randal Packer, Third Space Network founder, explains the motive for this event: “The D.C. Metro Virtual Town Hall was an effort to unite the arts community in the D.C. Area around a collective response to the crisis we now find ourselves in. For this event, we organized speakers from funding organizations to provide timely information to the arts community regarding much needed financial support. Since for a number of years, the Third Space Network has been active in organizing international online arts events, we felt a responsibility to lend our expertise to providing a cathartic gathering for the local arts community.”

Mason’s Arts Management (AMGT) office spoke with Papanicolaou (virtually) to gain insight into her involvement with Third Space Network, the takeaways from the town hall, and how her experience in Mason’s Arts Management Program has played a role in her organization of the event.

AMGT: What is Third Space Network and how are you involved?

CP: I serve as the Communications Strategist for Third Space Network, the organizer of this project, and manage the creation and marketing of content and event communications. Third Space Network, a new creative project by artist Randall Packer is best described on our website as “an artist-driven Internet platform for staging creative dialogue, live performance and uncategorizable activisms: social empowerment through the act of becoming our own broadcast media.” With previous projects including public dialogs and events encouraging collaboration in the arts, Third Space was uniquely positioned to develop and support the town hall.

AMGT: What AMGT classes helped you prepare for and make this event a success?

CP: At Mason, I enrolled in courses such as PR/Marketing in the Arts, Arts and Society, and Arts Advocacy, Agencies, and Associations, which aided me in organizing the event alongside Packer. In Arts and Society, students learn early on that the production of art is far more than just the product of an individual artist: it requires a vast network of people who play equally essential roles. To make this event a success, Packer and I had to provide a centralized platform for diverse members of the visual arts ecosystem, such as arts commissioners, gallery directors, communications strategists, and curators.

AMGT: What are the key takeaways that artists and arts managers can use from this town hall?

CP: As speakers recommended survival strategies for artists and arts spaces during the Virtual Town Hall, I provided links and resources within the live chat space. After the event, I aggregated and published the chat on the Third Space Network website, so that artists and culture workers could refer to it at their convenience.

Some of these resources include: Americans for the Arts’ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center; CARES Act Grant Programs provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Washington Project for the Art’s Wherewithall Recovery Grants for visual artists in the DC Area. For the full list of resources, visit Third Space Network: Edited Resource Chat.

Naturally, the next question is what’s next for Papanicolaou and Third Space Network? Set to graduate from George Mason’s Arts Management Master’s Program later this month, Papanicolaou will continue to play an integral part in more Virtual Town Halls with Third Space Network.

With the resounding success of the first town hall, Third Space Network is hosting a follow-up town hall, “Strategies for Survival in the Arts.” All artists and arts managers are invited to attend this free virtual event on Tuesday, May 12th at 6pm. Artist and arts managers will again have access to top area arts leaders from galleries, creative entrepreneurs, curators, and art centers to find creative solutions to Covid-19’s impact on local artists.

To find more information, visit Third Space Network’s website, Instagram account, and Facebook page.

Schools & Programs