February 19, 2020

Spotlight Series: Janelle Spruill, M.A.A.A. '21

Janelle Spruill, M.A.A.A. '21, nurtures, challenges, and inspires young artists to pursue their artistic goals and passions.

Jewell Robinson, Goucher’s first African American student, paved the way for Black students to receive an arts education at Goucher. To honor her legacy, the Welch Center will feature students in the M.A. in Arts Administration Program who are applying their education to careers in the arts.

Today's feature is: 
Janelle Spruill, M.A.A.A. '21
The Governor's School for the Arts

What excites you most about your job/field of work?

I was a graduate of the school where I work, so it's very exciting to give back to the arts institution who nurtured, challenged, and inspired me to pursue my artistic goals and passion. I hope to do the same for my students, whether they go into the arts field or do something completely different. They all are incredible young artists.

Is there an individual of African descent that inspired you to pursue a career in the arts? If so, who? How did they inspire you?

Aside from my parents, who have always been incredibly supportive of my dreams and choices, one of my mentors and teachers, Lorraine Graves, inspired me to pursue a career in the arts. She is a former principal dancer with the ballet company Dance Theatre of Harlem. She always saw my potential in the field and pushed me to be better than I ever thought I could be. She took the time to nurture my artistry and creativity when other teachers may have overlooked my potential. I also remember seeing her perform in a gala benefit in my hometown when I was 14, and it was just so inspiring to see a teacher of mine perform in a way that I wished and hoped I would in the future.

What do you like most about the M.A. in Arts Administration Program? If you are a graduate, what did you like most?

I love that the M.A.in Arts Administration Program is low residency. I can work, come home in the evening, and take my courses. Teaching was something I was afraid I was going to have to give up, but this program allows me to do it all. The professors are understanding and accommodating when life gets in the way of completing assignments.

What advice would you give to persons of African descent who want to have a career in arts administration?

The harsh reality is that there are not too many arts administrators of African descent. It's so important for our voices to be heard, but the only way we can do that as a community is to put ourselves in the forefront and get involved. No one will do the work for us, so we must do it ourselves. Jump into the mix and be ready for a crazy ride.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your program?

The most important lesson I learned in the M.A. in Arts Administration Program is that words are good, but actions are better. I have applied this lesson to several areas of my work.

Recently, a colleague and I moved forward with plans to create the first-ever summer dance camp for the Governor’s School for the Arts. There had been talk about it for two or three years, but no action had been taken to make it happen. My colleague and I set up a meeting with the school’s director and the dance department chair to discuss the idea and we received the green light to move ahead with this project. The dance camp will be an annual preparatory program and will take place for the first time this summer. It’s really exciting to turn this idea into a reality, and it wouldn’t have happened if we just continued to talk about it.

I also learned that I have a large network of people I can reach out to for help or advice. I'm fortunate to have been introduced to incredible people in the arts administration program.

Is there a member of your cohort that has impacted you in a positive way? If so, who? How have they impacted you?

They all have. Everyone brings something worthwhile to the table, and I value our conversations immensely. I love hearing their perspectives and ideas on how we can continue becoming better administrators and advocators for the arts.

If you had a chance to say one thing to Jewell Robinson, Goucher's first African American student who later pursued a career in the arts, what would it be and why?

Thank you for paving the way.