For Mauldin, Students Can Have an Impact Now
Aren’t students supposed to wait until after graduation to change the world?
Bronwyn Mauldin doesn’t think so.
“Students have important perspectives and ideas that can make a difference now,” says Mauldin, the director of research and evaluation at the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture (LACDAC).
Mauldin is an example of the kinds of teacher-practitioners who make the CGU experience unique in the world of graduate education.
Despite the considerable demands of her LACDAC role, Mauldin also serves as a faculty member in the university’s Center for Business & Management of the Arts (CBMArts). For Mauldin, teaching is the perfect complement to her career with the county.
“Every year my students surprise me with the questions they ask and the projects they propose. It keeps me fresh,” she says. “They give me new ideas and perspectives that ultimately I can take with me back to my work. But students should have a chance to test out the real-world application of these ideas too.”
The result has been an exciting collaboration between LACDAC and CBMArts that enables some of her students to take their classroom research proposals on various aspects of the arts landscape—from museum accessibility to issues involving diversity and equity—and produce significant reports disseminated to arts and cultural organizations locally and nationally.
The collaboration also has enabled some of the students to serve in paid roles as county consultants, receiving mentoring, gaining experience in the field, and building networks that will help them after they graduate.
“It was definitely very lucky for me to have that opportunity to think about having a class assignment turn into an official project,” said CBMArts alumna Katrina Sullivan. “It was very rewarding to me as a student as well that my opinions and thoughts were being valued, and that I could help the county and maybe even the public as well.”
Mauldin helped Sullivan produce the 2021 county report “Accessibility and the Arts: Reconsidering the Role of the Artist.” The pair also collaborated on “Museums’ choices and the disabled, post-pandemic,” a 2021 commentary featured in the newspapers of the Southern California News Group.
Sullivan and other students—like Cobi Krieger, who worked with Mauldin on the 2021 report “Make or Break: Exploring the Relationship Between Entry-Level Earnings and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Arts Administration”—developed their ideas in Mauldin’s course Research & Evaluation for the Arts, which she says is unique in the field.
“Very few arts management programs have a research methods class,” Mauldin explains. “My class is required in order to get a degree, and I enjoy helping students develop their research methodology skills and gain a competitive edge on students in other programs.”
Mauldin brings to the classroom a range of real-world experiences from the county, including her efforts to deploy data and research methods to strengthen the Southern California’s arts ecology of museums, galleries, small presses, performing arts groups, and related organizations, working to ensure that all residents have equitable access to all the benefits offered by the arts.
Along with numerous studies that she’s conducted, she also co-led the creation of the Arts Ed Profile, collecting K-12 arts education data from all 81 school districts in Los Angeles County and making it publicly available through an online interactive tool. In addition, Mauldin also maintains her own arts practice as a writer and a maker of zines.
For Sullivan, being exposed to Mauldin’s wealth of experience has translated into a satisfying highpoint of her graduate career.
“Collaborating with Professor Mauldin was one of the most rewarding parts of being a student at CGU,” she said. “Developing my report with the county made me realize that, as a student, I have value and a contribution to make.”