Professional Development Track

A strikingly unique professional development program closing the gap between the roles of artist, arts administrator, and community builder

The Red Poppy’s Professional Development Track in Community-Engaged Arts Presenting supports artists, arts professionals, community organizers, and culture workers in developing the skills, resourcefulness, and social-cultural mindfulness necessary for creating transformative spaces of encounter. Here, special attention is given to the nuanced artistry of crafting environments that facilitate transformative connection between artists and community members of different social and cultural groups. It is about the power of place and presence, creating environments where social patterns can be opened outward and new relationships can take root, where the arts represent not merely the content of a program but also the context in which it happens.

This nine-month program aims to impart practical skills in areas of: event management, project articulation, team-building strategies, public speaking, self-initiative & leadership, basic grass-roots budgeting, and get-it-done resourcefulness. To compliment their learning practice, participants have the opportunity to meet and dialogue with an extensive array of Bay Area artists, arts leaders, and community members through a monthly deep-conversation cohort session. They are offered additional support through one-on-one mentoring by members of the Poppy’s Leadership Team, providing guidance for independent project development from conception to implementation.

Porch FestivalTrial & Error: Learning by Doing
Our Community-Engaged Arts Presenting program evolved out of trial & error approaches used by the Red Poppy Art House to maintain its small-scale level of operations across the 12 years of its evolution. They are equally informed by the community engagement strategies that the Poppy employed to establish a bi-monthly community-driven neighborhood arts happening known as the Mission Arts & Performance Project (MAPP). The Art House uses these arenas as the training ground where program participants can put their ideas into action.

RPAH MeetingMonthly Cohort Session
Our monthly cohort training session provides a dynamic series of guest speaker presentations, films, and workshops that help to broaden the cohort’s view of the overall arts ecology, with a particular focus on relationship building between different institutional levels (from grass-roots to the museum) and varied artistic and cultural communities.

Past guest presenters of cohort sessions include: Ebony Mckinney (SF Arts Commission), Michael Warr (Poet and Leadership Consultant), Adriana Camarena (Writer), Adam Fong (New Music Center), Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Performance Curator, YBCA), Marcus Shelby (Composer, MSJO), Ted Russell (Program Officer, James Irvine Foundation), Meklit Hadero (Independent Artist, TED Fellow/Nile Project), Byb Chanel Bibene (Choreographer), Mercy Jimenez (Neighbor and Community Leader), Tom Sway (Independent Artist), Jeremy Allen (Musician and Sound Technician from Quijerema), and Nancy Quinn (Quin & Associates/Grants Consulting).

Hosting: The Alchemical Craft of Space and Relationship
One aspect of our program that we would like to call to light is that which we simply term “hosting.” No, we’re not a restaurant. Rather, we take this term in a much deeper global meaning. Central to RPAH’s aesthetic and approach to arts presenting and community engagement is a sensibility that we identify across cultures and communities, something which manifests in a kaleidoscopic array of forms yet always moves towards a shared goal – it is the art of honoring guests.


Wednesday evening session with guest speaker Roberto Gutiérrez Varea (Photo: Todd T Brown, 2015)

We like to think that we take hosting to a level of social practice. In a society where public interactions are so often framed by consumer exchange, and in a post-modern western-dominated arts field that long ago banished human tenderness from its professional aesthetic out of fear of sentimentalism, indeed, the practice of human welcome becomes a form of cultural intervention and a conduit through which our human connectivity can be more deeply established. Our experience has shown us that the practice of this welcome bears a direct result on creating the kind of environment where transformative experiences occur. It is a “lost art” that we are seeking to return to the center of artistic practice and presentation, and it is one to which every single culture has its contributions.



RPAH’s Professional Development Track is a nine-month program with ongoing enrollment and a three-month summer intensive. Applicants should be prepared to commit 12-15 hours per week for the completion of this program.

To apply, please submit a resume/CV with a statement regarding your intent to apply (LOI) to:

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