Meet Our Summer Development Intern: Sam Peck-Sanders

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I am an incoming junior at Occidental College, with a double major in comparative studies in literature and culture and studio arts. Having been involved with arts my entire life–drawing, painting, printing, graphic design, and mixed-media–I have found its practices a primary conduit for navigating spaces and social issues. I believe creative exploration plays an integral role in personal and communal growth, and needs to be understood as such in the work of fostering a more equitable metropolitan environment.  Disparity in access to education means disparity in access to artistic experimentation, however this latter tenet is often overlooked when treating the most immediate symptoms of education inequality. I hope to aid in transforming our understanding of creative experimentation from one of privilege to one of basic need. I was compelled to intern for Free Arts given the alignment of its mission with this incentive. As a comparative lit major, a lot of my academic work entails dissecting what is at stake for the human condition in our urge to produce and create, and importantly in the notion of play. The task of ensuring that these concerns transcend the boundaries of academia has inspired me to become acquainted with the mechanisms of the non-profit sector. I was specifically drawn to Free Arts, as I believe that this organization approaches human rights and resilience through one of its most fundamental but overlooked prism–recognition of the curative potential inscribed in arts and craftsmanship.  

In the past I have worked in curatorial, archival, and digital media roles for a gallery, arts collective, and production company, respectively dedicated to social justice and heritage protection.  I have also been involved in tutoring and promoting higher education within Los Angeles’ public high schools. I hope to use my internship in development at Free Arts to learn the framework required for bridging these initiatives; including but not limited to gaining exposure to fundraising processes, becoming competent in a fundraising database, assisting third party events, understanding the collaborative relationship between development and programs, becoming versed in the necessities of a sustainable non-profit model, and occasionally participating hands-on with Free Arts’ programs. I aim to treat this internship both as a field-work opportunity for more deeply examining the goals of my academic career, and to explore possibilities of implementing my studies in ways that are constructive to Free Arts’ mission. In regards to what this might inspire for future endeavors, I hope to utilize this development role to expose myself to concrete and conscientious mechanisms for promoting inclusivity in spaces dedicated to artistic play and personal investigation.