Help us celebrate with team member Tania Blanich on a milestone birthday as she looks back at her artful life.
I celebrated a milestone birthday last week. The kind where you’d throw yourself a big party with friends and family, were it not for a pandemic. Instead, I had a quiet day, working in my garden, and musing about this and that, including my career in the arts.
I fell into arts administration, but it may have been pre-destined.
I grew up in Fargo, in a house filled with art, music, dance and great food, one of two daughters of Beverly Halbeisen Blanich and Lewis Blanich. Mom ran the Halbeisen School of Dance for 40+ years. A co-founder of the FM Community Theater, she met Dad at the initial organizing meeting. He played Mr. Appopolous in My Sister Eileen, the Theatre’s first production. His cooking interests and skills meant we ate things like moussaka and boeuf bourguignonne, as well as mac-and-cheese.
My sister Tamara and I danced from a very early age, continuing past college. We both played piano and violin, and I later took up the harp. We didn’t have Mom’s artistic talent but held our own in art classes. Tamara participated in theater in high school, while my acting career essentially ended after my riveting performance as Guinevere in Miss Gudmundson’s 3rd grade production of Camelot, on the Washington Elementary School stage. How could I possibly have topped that?
I knew by college that although a decent dancer/musician/artist/definitely not actor, I wouldn’t/couldn’t make my living as an “artist.” But I also knew that I wouldn’t/couldn’t distance myself from the arts.
My first job in the arts: teaching assistant at the Halbeisen School of Dance. Nepotism may have played a role in my landing it. Since then (including non-arts jobs): 10 years in New York City government; 10 years as Director of the Program for Media Artists (a Rockefeller Foundation program that gave grants to artists in the US and Latin America); and shorter stints at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the arts council in Lexington, KY and at the Rourke. Hired full-time by The Arts Partnership in 2016 and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is it that I love so much about working as an arts administrator? I’m inspired on a daily basis by the undaunted vision, creativity and perseverance, passion and commitment required to be an artist or performer or to produce and stage plays or run a film festival or any other arts undertaking. I’m privileged that many artists I’ve met along the way have become close friends with whom I have interesting and silly and stimulating conversations. Every single facet of my life is richer because of my connection to and participation in the arts.
Art provides an opportunity to rise above the mundane, to live in a place of ideas and beauty and imagination. Art is the lovely place in which I have lived for the past 60 years.