Be a Leader in Your Own Art

Written by Annie Beckmann
October 6, 2015

Husband and wife Roxy and Matt Hornbeck, both 2011 graduates of the Master of Fine Arts program, were a pair of young risk takers who rolled into Seattle from Flagstaff, Ariz., in 2008 with no jobs.

"We were like Bon Jovi," says Matt. "'Livin? on a Prayer.'"?

They both found work at Seattle Central College, him teaching sociology and Roxy, tech writing.

Well before they came to Seattle University, the couple wanted to create a distinctive arts group to reflect their belief that meaningful art can change the world.

It was their burgeoning ideas of social mindedness that drew them to Seattle U's MFA in Arts Leadership.

"The description of the MFA program illuminated itself off the page," he says.

So Roxy and Matt learned in tandem how to knit themselves together, as Matt describes, under the canopy of arts leadership. They were the first married couple ever to complete the MFA in Arts Leadership together, says Kevin Maifeld, who directs the program.

"Shaping the identity of our arts organization is something Matt and I did together during the program," Roxy says. "We wanted to start an organization and immediately be able to apply what we were learning.v

That's how they gave birth to quiet (with an intentional lowercase q) to harness art and spark dialogue. It's an ambitious nonprofit organization that focuses on social change by bringing together the arts with community groups.

"We produced more than 60 projects each year for three years. We wanted to explore many media?theater and literary arts, in particular, so we could see how expectations, structure and norms were different," says Roxy, quiet's managing director. Matt serves as executive director and his brother Josh is quiet's artistic director.

Roxy and Matt have kudos for Maifeld?s care for his students and the arts community.

"He helped us connect with other arts organizations so we could refine and articulate our mission, vision and values," says Matt.

Meanwhile, Maifeld spotted a need to expand the notion of arts leadership to include an undergraduate program. His thinking grew out of the popularity of Second Stage, educational offerings for professional dancers with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Each quarter a Seattle U Core class is taught right where the dancers rehearse and perform at Seattle Center.

"They take Core courses, but there?s been no degree to work toward," Maifeld says, "and what it came down to was a need for an arts management undergraduate program."

And so was born the new bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary arts with a specialization in arts leadership. The new program launched this fall and is aimed at students who want to create, manage or administer activities within a specific arts discipline. Classroom learning combines with a five-credit internship in a local arts organization to prepare graduates to run a business as a working artist or for a career at a museum or theater, according to Maifeld.

Classes in the arts include financial strategies, marketing, public policy and advocacy, law and fundraising. While the MFA trains students for upper level leadership in an arts organization, the undergraduate program helps students become leaders in their own art.

Roxy will be among those teaching in the program, with the Introduction to Arts Leadership course. Roxy's ability to work with students eager to find careers in the many dimensions of the art world made her a natural choice to teach one of the first courses in the bachelor's program, says Maifeld.

"This program makes arts leadership a more viable career choice for artists and changes the opportunities," she says. "One component is that the program allows for the empowerment of women who you don't often see enough of in director positions in arts organizations."

This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Seattle University Magazine.