The Island Now

Lauren Wagner is the executive director of the Long Island Arts Alliance, a non-profit arts organization servicing the creative sector island-wide.

With 16 years of administrative, development, marketing, programmatic, and sales experience in both for-profit and non-profit arts organizations, she brings a diverse set of skills and perspectives to her position with LIAA in order to support a culture where artists and arts organizations can thrive on Long Island.

Her passion for the arts, in its many forms, stems from her appreciation and respect for those who create, as well as the fundamental belief that the arts are essential to community and connection.

She uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to advocate for the arts and support the work of the Island’s world-class arts institutions, creatives, arts educators, and cultural spaces.

Lauren holds a master’s degree in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Arts Administration from Wagner College.

What drives you to succeed:
Passion. I have been lucky enough to find a field for which I have passion. I don’t spend much time or energy focused on success because I look forward to doing what I do on a daily basis.

I find that I am able to achieve more goals when I am working towards something I am passionate about. When I am able to help others, be it an artist or a small start-up arts organization succeed, I am truly fulfilled and that motivates me to continue to find ways in which the Alliance can be of service to the sector.

What are the most significant challenges you have as a woman in your industry?
Women have historically been underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses.

There are staggering statistics out there that prove that the sector is not achieving parity as quickly as it may seem. In all of my formal education in the arts, I always wondered where all the women were… if mentioned, it was always in comparison to their male counterparts. The statistics of women of color are even more dismal, it’s unacceptable.

Unfortunately, this trend is also present in the arts administration world. While women, as well as the LGBTQ community, tend to be well-represented in lower-paying roles, we are underrepresented in higher-profile roles.

I feel very fortunate to be in a leadership role with the Alliance, and I hope to be able to shine a light on the continued inequality in the sector by making a greater effort to identify young high school artists and arts lovers from diverse communities and provide them with mentorship, internship, and networking opportunities in the arts.

What is the best advice you have received that has made an impact on your business?
When I was learning to drive, my dad told me “If you hesitate, don’t go. Trust your instincts.”

That has stayed with me. There is so much more to this than solid safe-driving advice – it helped to develop the confidence needed to succeed in life. What he taught me with that one sentence was to trust my gut… that inner feeling… the intuition. Make sure it feels right. I use this in both my personal and professional life all the time – and it’s helped me maintain focus on projects that I’m genuinely invested in.

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