Venice Biennale with The European Cultural Academy


European Cultural Academy

In the summer of 2017, during my first ECA course.

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by!

The Venice Biennale professional preview opened on the 17th, and I have envy!

As the Venice Biennale prepares to open its doors to the public from April 20th to November 24th, 2024, I’m filled with a thrilling mix of anticipation and nostalgia for my time in Venice, working for the European Cultural Academy – ECA as a Program Coordinator. 

With more than 80 exhibitors bustling in the Giardini, Arsenal, and Venice city center, I deeply miss the vibrant energy of the Biennale season. 

This year marks the 60th International Art Exhibition, and this curator is Adriano Pedrosa, from Brazil. He is the artistic director of Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand—MASP—and is leading the way with his Stranieri Ovunque—Foreigners Everywhere Exhibition.

So, because I have FOMO and nostalgia for a past life, I wanted to honor those feelings and take a second to talk about my time with the Europe Cultural Academy and why I think their courses are excellent for anyone who is looking for a bit of inspiration in their lives and has always wanted to visit Venice. 

In 2016, I decided to change my life by quitting my interior design office job at F. Schumacher to continue my academics. I hoped to work as a curator and writer at a museum in Italy, so I applied to The American University of Rome – AUR to receive my Master’s in Arts Management.

Danielle Krysa, aka The Jealous Curator and Me

Part of my inspiration came from deciding that I no longer wanted to work in a windowless office and wanted to go back to Italy. That is when I found Danielle Krysa’s The Jealous Curator – TJC blog and fell in love with her book Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative

So, taking a leap of faith in myself, I left for Rome in the summer of 2016. It wasn’t until July 2017, after my second semester at grad school, that I had the opportunity to meet Danielle. In December of my first semester, Danielle announced that in the summer of 2017, she would collaborate with the European Cultural Academy in Venice, Italy, and host workshops for two weeks. The workshops were open to the public, and anyone could sign up and join.

I knew this was fate and that I was meant to meet her. So, I got to work to make this happen, needing to find the money and other benefits of taking on this challenge. In the end, I spent a month in Venice attending Danielle’s workshops, used the program to go towards my internship credits for my graduate program, and convinced a classmate and her wife to join me for the courses. 

I enjoyed my experience with ECA so much that I decided to apply for the internship next summer, hoping to find a full-time job after graduation and stay in Italy. So, in May 2018, I began as the Program Coordinator for ECA. 

Me checking out the Arsenal

ECA has expanded its course options since I was there. They began in Venice with just three months out of the year during the peak summer season, offering a different course once a week. Now, they have online courses with courses also located in Venice and Amsterdam and collaborate with several universities to hold annual workshops.

The three courses below are what I studied in Venice and who our guest lecturers were at the time. 

Contemporary Art, European Cultural Academy 
Contemporary Curatorial Practices by Rene Rietmeyer • Tendencies in Contemporary Art with by Francis Wasser • Exhibition Planning: From Idea to Reality by Lucia Pedrana • Art Market: fairs and Galleries by Stefano Pirovano • The Next Big Thing: future of Exhibitions by Steven Bisson • Case study: Jealous Curator by Danielle Krysa • Workshop: Psychological aspects of working in creative industries by Danielle Krysa 

Venice Biennale, European Cultural Academy 
Curatorial History of the Venice Biennale by Francis Wasser • Venice Biennale: Selection Procedures, organizational chart, and History by Matteo Giannasi • Organizing national pavilions and collateral Events by Lucia Pedrana • PR & Communication for national pavilions and collateral events by Lara F. • The rise of the Architecture Biennale by James Taylor-Foster • Future of the Biennale format? Possible formats for cultural projects by Matteo Giannasi 

Art Practices, European Cultural Academy 
Organization of large-scale exhibition, curatorial practices by Lucia Pedrana • Working with Culture/Management of Cultural Projects by Rikke Jorgensen • Budget and finance: from idea to reality by Steve Bisson • Case study: Pavilion of Greece at the Biennale. Talk with the artist George Drivas • Case study: European Cultural Centre • PR & Communication for the arts by Lara Facco • Art Market. Future of the artworks after the exhibition by Stefano Pirovano • Strategy, future, innovation in art exhibitions/Expanding Exhibitions: Innovative Approaches to Curating by Lauren Reid

Every week was filled with something new and exciting. I was so in love with all the possibilities a life of art offers and the ability to incorporate history by hosting these international events in deeply cultured environments. Not only were the lecturers, museum tours, and night events a fantastic experience to network, but you also had the privilege of meeting people from all over the world and learning something new about the art world from everyone you met.

It was amazing being able to take the courses with Julia, my classmate from AUR, because it is an experience no one else in my life will be able to share my excitement, and having made a ton of new art friends, I still run into some of these fantastic women during my travels. We always reminisce about our time in Venice.

Julia and I on our weekly water taxi tour hosted by ECA

Venice was a fantastic experience for me, and I was able to develop in the art world and see that there are a million different paths to take when it comes to living a creative life. Having worked for Maria and her twin sister Alexandra, though any job is stressful at times, especially in its start-up phase, it was a pleasure working with two women who genuinely love their jobs and can build such an open and safe space for people to explore the possibilities of a life they did not know was possible. I admire both of them immensely and am incredibly grateful for how they helped me grow. 

I was living my best life as Program Coordinator because organizing everything was fun and came quickly to me. But I also had the privilege of attending all the lectures and events. I was in a constant learning position, which is my authentic vibe. Being an intern also meant I had a room above the gallery in Palazzo Michiel, which meant every morning, I got to wake up and walk through an art exhibition I had all to myself and sit on the balcony that overlooked the Rialto Bridge. 

So, if you are looking for some form of pivot or inspiration in your life, I highly recommend Maria Nekrassova’s TEDX talk and to take a leap of faith in yourself and chase that dream you have been denying for too long. Venice is a fantastic place to start a new life. 

My photo of a classmate

If you are considering attending ECA for its fantastic art courses and experiencing the Venice Biennale, use promo code VENICE10 to receive 10% off your course. 

Thank you for reading!

Tell me, Reader, what old experiences are you looking to bring back into your life? Comment below!

I hope I have inspired you to pursue your dreams and that you will stick around to see how my journey turns out!

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