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Aeren Bates Named as Katherine Dunham Intern at Regional Arts Commission

Webster University Graduate Student Will Focus on Arts Administration

The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) has awarded the 2013 Katherine Dunham Internship to Aeren Bates, who is working on her Masters of Fine Arts in Arts Management and Leadership at Webster University.

The internship, which includes a $2,500 stipend, was created in 2011 by Sara and Jack Burke in order to assist African Americans who are interested in pursuing a career in arts administration. It was named as a tribute to Ms. Burke’s mentor Katherine Dunham, with whom she studied dance in East St. Louis.

“We’re thrilled that the internship is gaining awareness and the selection process has become competitive," Burke said. "It was difficult to choose just one person among the 35 excellent applicants. It’s also gratifying that the previous interns are helping each other to achieve career success. We anticipate that a growing network of Katherine Dunham interns will provide important support for African Americans pursuing careers in arts management.” 

“We are pleased to welcome Aeren to RAC," said Jill McGuire, executive director of RAC, said. "As a dancer and actor who is working on an advanced degree in arts administration, she has the perfect background for the Katherine Dunham internship. She will be involved in the grants process, which will give her critical experience for her future in this field.”

Bates was instrumental in reinstating the dance major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she earned a B.A. in Theatre. She also founded the “Floor Rockers” at the school to provide dance performances and classes at the school.

“I have experienced and witnessed the incredible impact the arts can have on people’s lives,” Bates said, “which is why I have chosen a career in arts administration. Working at RAC will provide me with an important background in how to run cultural organizations that are impactful and sustainable.”

Bates is especially pleased that the internship is named after Katherine Dunham, whom she admires.  

“Dunham was able to tell the stories of our experiences as Black Americans," she said. "However, the greatest achievement was that the entire world watched and listened. She was a visionary leader who embodied so much of what I want to accomplish.”

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