Written by Rachel Baum ’06
Career AssistantPaula Justich,’76, went on to a career in arts administration, but her route was not a direct one. She graduated from Lawrence with a major in government and took a few years to figure out exactly what kind of career she wanted to pursue. When she first came to Lawrence, she planned on becoming a lawyer. Her plan changed because, in her opinion, too many lawyers lose sight of the people they are trying to help and focus on money instead. She didn’t want this to happen to her so she focused on other things in school as well as her major such as writing movie reviews for the Lawrentian and Asian history.
Soon after graduating, she moved to the Chicago area and worked in a number of corporate jobs. Unfortunately, during the 1970s, the idea of women in the professional work force was new and not entirely welcome. Justich felt that her position in the corporate scene was not at all comparable to that of a man’s. She was constantly placed in clerical jobs for which she was overqualified, and the work wasn’t satisfying her needs as a person. Something good came of her time in the corporate clerical world, however. Paula gained business skills that would benefit her later.
During those first years out of college, Justich was also drawn into Chicago’s thriving theater scene. She spent a great deal of time as a patron of the arts. Eventually, she decided to enter the field of arts administration to be closer to the subject that she loved. She attended Columbia College in Chicago and earned her Masters of Arts Administration. Historically artists with no business background used to manage the business side of the arts and struggled because they lacked important skills. Now, people like Justich, who are not artists themselves but rather trained administrators who care about the arts, manage art companies. After much training and then work in more theater related jobs, Justich became the managing director of a non-profit company called Forecast Public Artworks located in Minneapolis, MN.
Justich gains much satisfaction from her occupation despite its heavy workload and only passable salary. Her job includes directing all the programs offered by Forecast. One of Forecast’s clients is the Science Museum of Minnesota. When this museum wanted to put in an artistic, scientifically themed atrium, Forecast coordinated the artists who would perform the job. Forecast also funds and organizes other kinds of public art including public dance.
In addition to her graduate degree, Ms. Justich attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to develop desktop publishing skills. Paula uses these skills to develop effective advertising for Forecast and manage the “Public Art Review,” Forecast’s biannual magazine, as well as their two active websites. She also runs Public Art Affairs, which awards stipends to Minnesota artists for their projects.
Paula has been working for Forecast for over a decade and is content with her position. Her advice for current Lawrentians hoping to pursue a career in arts administration is to pace oneself. When she started on the job she had trouble managing her time and was working ten to fourteen hour days. Now she rarely works over nine hours a day. She believes there is a high burn out rate because one could easily work 20-hour days and still have more work to get done. Paula Justich has found a balance in her life over the years. She now makes sure she keeps her work life and home life separate by living just across the Minnesota border in Wisconsin. Justich sums up her feelings about her work by saying she enjoys “facilitating the arts” even if she does not feel very artistic herself. She is a prime example of a Lawrentian finding a niche in a not so apparent field.