Art shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. From the earliest days of the human race, art has been shared with others, through display or acts of public performance.
Here in the West, artistic expression has had its share of gatekeepers, most often museum curators or nobles who commissioned work from the artists of the day.
The 21st century has seen the democratization of the arts, and simultaneously, those gatekeepers of the past are disappearing.
Now, curation is more about promoting important and exciting work. Attention is more valuable than ever, and creative professionals are finding inventive ways to bring more attention to worthy projects.
Mariangela Ciccone is an experienced professional art director and creative director who has managed corporate events, awards shows, and art galleries.
Most recently, she has been working with the New York dance studio Body & Pole, Inc., helping to promote their shows and classes, as well as developing new shows.
Ciccone sat down with us to talk about her experiences with Body & Pole as well as her career as a whole and the importance of promoting unique artistic works.
What was your earliest experience with Body & Pole? Did you know right away that you wanted to work with them?
My first collaboration with them was in January 2019, and I knew right away I wanted to work with them. I really appreciate their mission and core values.
Did you research the B & P brand before you started working with them?
B&P was actually the dance studio where I used to train. They produce and host live events all year round and I started producing and directing their shows and events in 2019.
Have you always known that you wanted to work in the arts?
I have a B.A. in “Preservation and Management of Cultural Heritage” and I believe that the arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together. I’ve always known that I wanted to work in the arts, specifically in the event business.
I’ve worked for art galleries and curated art openings and international art fairs, but the events world is wide and deep, and being able to adapt to changes is key. In fact, I’ve also managed corporate events, fundraising, and produced shows and live events.
Which aspect of your work excites you the most?
The fact that it is unpredictable. No two days are ever the same, just like no two events are the same, which makes it exciting, but also very stressful. I like that I get to be creative, and I love the process that turns an idea into a reality. In my opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than the end result: creating experiences that people will remember.
Just how important is the human element of your job? Do you enjoy collaboration?
It is the most important aspect of my job. Events don’t exist without the people. As an art director, I constantly meet truly inspiring people from across many fields. The ability to manage people, to build a network of trusted peers, partners, and vendors is just as important as any other skill.
There would be no events, no shows, no art galleries without collaboration. Events bring people together and foster relationships.
Tell us a bit about the show you produced, SHOWTIME. Where did the idea come from? What did the show entail?
My dear friend and choreographer Abigail Williams came to me one day with the idea and asked me to help her turn it into reality. I was the director and co-producer of the show along with her and our other friend and choreographer Donna Carnow.
If you don’t live in New York City, you probably don’t know that Showtime is a type of performance done as a busking routine using poles and handholds inside NYC subway cars. Showtime includes acrobatic flips, hat and shoe tricks, and pole tricks.
Our SHOWTIME! is a variety show inspired by those stunts and incredible talents of some of these performers that we are so used to seeing on our daily commute. SHOWTIME! opened at the East Village venue “DROM” on November 16th, 2019.
Our show represents all the different characters who come together every day in the NYC subway system. Each act takes place at a different subway stop and it is inspired by real-life characters that we have all seen, ranging from the women selling churros to the person having a meltdown on the train, two strangers falling in love, and many more.
The show featured spoken word poetry, burlesque, contortion, pole dancing, and aerial dancing acts. To hold together the storyline was the train conductor, the unseen character who makes funny, sassy, and irreverent jokes throughout the show. The show had a great turnout and was a great success, and we are planning on doing it again this year.
Do you find it fulfilling to promote other artists and performance spaces? Would you like to keep doing this work for the rest of your life?
I find it very fulfilling. The arts have been crucial from the very beginning of our existence, whether it’s a composition, a dance piece, or a sculpture, art can move us.
It can excite, provoke, soothe, and inspire us. Art, in all its forms, is a universal language, and I am very thankful to be able to work with great artists and spaces that believe in them. I would like to keep doing this for as long as possible. I love my job, the people I get to work with, and the artists I collaborate with.