Oct 29, 2018
Q&A With Talya Lerman
Dreyfoos alumna Talya Lerman was a member of the Class of ‘98. After leaving Dreyfoos, Lerman went on to complete a business degree at Northwood University. She then moved on to a career in supporting the arts through work in various non-profit organizations backing the arts. In her years since graduation, she has returned to the school in order to participate in and organize events for the Foundation’s Alumni Committee, and is currently planning two alumni parties for those who would like to return to the school for reunions and support the school to attend.
What year did you graduate from Dreyfoos? What have you done since?
1998. I was part of the first graduating class of the new campus. From 7th through 11th grade, I was at the old campus (now Bak MS) so it was fun and exciting to move to a whole new space for the last year of high school. It felt like I was able to have two entirely different high school experiences! Taking stock after high school, I knew I wasn’t going to be the next Picasso, Warhol, or Laurie Anderson but I really wanted to promote the Arts and be in an artistic environment – for life. As an adult, I’ve always been hyper organized and thus earned a Business degree which has served me well alongside my Arts background. I have been on a wonderful and circuitous career path in the non-profit arts sector since then, from the Norton Museum of Art to the Armory Arts Center to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts where I am Development Manager.
What department were you in during your time at Dreyfoos?
Visual Arts. My mother is a fabulous painter and was an art teacher for over 30 years. Many Visual alumni will recall the figure-drawing group my mom hosted weekly back in the day! My grandma is over 100 and still sketches. I think creativity runs in the family.
Who were some of your most influential teachers while you were at Dreyfoos?
Bill Walter, Theresa Beermann (go Women’s Studies Club!), Connie Rudy (to whom I’m still super close), all my Visual Arts teachers AND Artists in Residence. Believe it or not, I remember some of our substitute teachers. I must give them credit. What a tough job they had with the motley crew of outspoken and artsy kids!
Describe the alumni committee of the DSOA Foundation.
The Committee grew out of a sense that we could give back more to the school. There is so much room for Alumni to participate and engage in: through capital, through time, through our connections both locally and nationally. Creating those connections reflects what I learned at DSOA.
What does the alumni committee mean to you and what do you hope to bring to the Committee?
I hope to bring enthusiasm to the committee and help motivate others to get involved. To help the school that played such a formative role in my life means a lot. Being on the Committee means that I can be involved and informed about what goes on at DSOA. It affords me, and the whole committee, an opportunity to act when called upon and to stay connected to a place and a mission that I believe in.
Who is on the alumni committee?
A great group of people across the art areas who are mostly local, though we’d love and highly encourage those out of town to get involved! Right now, its predominantly class of 98, 99, 00, and a few from after then. We encourage all alumni to participate. There is no part too small or too big, no skill we can’t use, no bright idea we would turn away!
What would you like to achieve through the alumni committee? What are some of your ideas for more alumni support, and how can they actively be involved now?
Engagement through participation and awareness. We are working on getting more alumni to sign up for the newsletter, which is the primary vehicle to stay current on the school’s goings on, needs, call to action, and Alumni Spotlights like this one.
We recognize connections are everything in the business world. We are working on creating a place on the SOAFI website where we are able to network and call upon the talents of other alumni – a registry if you will. I can’t build a website or design a building but I bet there is someone in that field that I could contact on the registry!
We realize getting involved or giving back is a tougher sell. There is a lot being asked of us each day. It can be easy to forget our old high school when we are focused on our careers, raising kids, are civically active, and have other priorities. However, where would we be if not for School of the Arts? The newsletter, the Facebook page, and the SOAFI website, keep the school on our radar and reminds us of what the school represents. The Arts are VITAL. We may not all have time to give, but once a year or once a month, we can give an amount that makes sense and reminds us why and that we care about supporting the future generation of artists across all genres.
You were a part of the class of 1998. Tell us about the 1998 class reunion and what that meant to you.
Wow. It was spectacular. The Committee, spearheaded by Danny Ingram, was awesome. The reunion was an amazing way to reconnect to people whom I did not know well in high school. I have a whole new perspective. We had SO much fun at the reunion and people threw in all their connections, skills, and time to make it the BEST reunion it could be. Natalie Considine gave out cards reminding people how special and unique they are, Nigel Baliram oversaw the A/V for the night and created a video of the evening. Our DJ was class of ’99 Brad Barfield! Basically, it was like a high school group project that actually went well!
There are two upcoming alumni holiday parties. Tell us more about them.
The idea of having two holiday parties is a direct result of the Alumni Committee. The older graduating classes were not attending the Roxy’s holiday party as much anymore and that was for a variety of different reasons. After the success of the ’98 reunion, and the fun reunions of the other older classes, we realized there was a need for a holiday party specifically geared towards the ’95 – ’02 graduates, and that a different venue and a different focus would encourage attendance. This is the first iteration so we will see how to goes! Everyone in town should come to either party!
What does Dreyfoos mean to you?
My best friends are those I met at Dreyfoos. It is where I was able to grow my talents, think critically, and speak freely. I think many of my civic ideals came from the environment nurtured there. I learned to listen and to feel like everyone has something of value to contribute. Being at a school that fosters the creative talents and dreams of its students was priceless. Dreyfoos is not only a place but an ideal I want to support.