Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2019: Jenna Gould
Where do you work and what do you do?
I’m a consultant with Susannah Darrow Consulting. We provide fundraising support and development strategy, mostly for non-profits in the arts and culture realm. My title of Associate Consultant is purposefully vague because I have a variety of responsibilities – grants management, research, client interfacing, and miscellaneous office tasks. I’m a detail-oriented person, which works well since Susannah excels at big ideas and overall strategy. It’s incredibly rewarding to be working with so many different types of clients while also helping build a successful small business. There’s never a dull moment.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I’ve always been interested in the arts. I’m fortunate that my parents took me to art museums as a kid. I studied piano for 12 years and started taking voice lessons in high school. In college, I majored in music and decided to pursue a master’s in vocal performance with the intention of being an opera singer. While I decided not to pursue a career in opera, I currently sing with a classical vocal trio that I co-founded last year called Les Trois Voix, and I’m also a staff singer at Northside Drive Baptist Church. Music and art go hand in hand for me – I don’t think my interest in the arts and arts advocacy is a surprise to anyone who knows me.
I’ve only been working in this realm for the past few years. I had a nontraditional trajectory to get to where I am now. And I think that’s really ok. There’s a lot of pressure when you graduate from college to know exactly what you want to do and to find the perfect job to set you up for your career. I went straight into my master’s program from college, and I worked in the corporate world for about six years after that, but it never felt right. Trying to get back into arts administration was challenging. I had worked as a development assistant for a non-profit in New York, but it was before my time in law firms and finance, so all people saw on my resume was my paralegal experience. It was actually an internship at Atlanta Contemporary that helped me land a seasonal job with Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which in time led to my current position.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Lunch with Ada Lovelace would be interesting. As pervasive as sexism is now, I can’t imagine the challenges of a female mathematician in the 19th century. I would also love to talk about music with composer and pianist Fanny Mendelssohn.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
If you had asked me five years ago, I probably would have said my parents because they have always been supportive of my career aspirations. But I’ve spent the past several years figuring out what I want for myself instead of what other people want for me. I’m lucky to have a handful of amazing, strong women that I count as friends who also work in creative fields and understand the accompanying challenges. My sister has also been a big influence in such a positive way. She was talking and writing about sexism and feminism before it was a big part of the cultural lexicon and certainly before I was thinking about it.
How is art a passion for you?
Music is my greatest passion. When I moved back to Atlanta in 2012, there were a couple years where I wasn’t singing or performing in any capacity. I joined Festival Singers of Atlanta in 2014 (which is where I met the other two co-founders of Les Trois Voix), and it was such a joy to be making music again. I hadn’t realized how much I needed that creative outlet, especially since I was working in finance at the time. I’m at my best when I can express myself through music and collaborate with other musicians.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
For all the talk in the arts about the importance of representation of women and people of color, there are still far too few women leading creative organizations. Stop talking about how important diversity is to you, and start actually hiring women, especially women of color, and elevating them into positions of power.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I’m excited that the arts in Atlanta are starting to get the kind of recognition they deserve. People have been doing impressive work in the arts here for a while, and it’s time folks outside of Atlanta pay attention. For example, Atlanta Contemporary hosted the 2019 Atlanta Biennial, highlighting the work of artists throughout the south. The Lucky Penny has also been raising the bar for contemporary dance since its inception in 2011. There are a lot of fierce and savvy women in the arts community – I’m excited to see how the landscape changes with women at the helm.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
One of the reasons I got into fundraising was to help arts organizations grow their capacity to support artists and the arts community. I’m excited to have the opportunity to support not just one but many different organizations that each contribute something unique to this community.