Five Questions for Emily Krell
Name: Emily Krell
Title/Occupation: Producer, Whitney Live / Artist Manager / Freelance Producer / arts admin grunt
Organization/Company: Whitney Museum / Self
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up on long island. I played the violin fairly seriously for a long time. Several long stories later and I ended up managing a new music ensemble (S.E.M. Ensemble), then worked at BAM, and then at the Whitney. I take on lots of side projects (some paid, some not so much) and try to focus on the following things: supporting artists and being a part of their work by helping to disseminate it; building community around new work; and creating good audience experiences. I only recently figured out that I should be calling myself a producer. Physically I didn’t go very far. I live in Brooklyn which is where my parents and my grandparents grew up.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
When I was 12 I went through a very serious B-52’s phase and got particularly into their first self-titled record. This was probably my first clue about an inclination for things that are off-center, slightly (or sometimes very) weird. They were so stylized and exaggerated, and there was this total collision of high/low that I am still very drawn to in different forms. Well maybe the “high” part is debatable but still…
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
I wish I were better able to make small talk about art. It’s a skill that seems to serve people well yet I’m not sure I’ve figured out how to do it.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
I go to work at the Whitney Museum every day. I talk on the phone and send emails about what we’re programming and how to fundraise for it and market it. I meet with artists and tech staff and other folks to work on putting up each show. We don’t have a theater or any dedicated space so every performance is site-specific, whether it’s a jazz trio downstairs on a Friday night or 4 hour Meredith Monk marathon in the galleries. I deal with the many challenges around presenting performance in a visual arts environment…in other words, I dodge bullets and jump over obstacles! Outside of that I manage a band called Zs, and I am working with friends and colleagues on a youth hip hop record label called Representing NYC. We are also planning the 2nd edition of “you are here: a sculptural maze and performance festival” which will happen this September. Mostly this amounts to a lot of emails and meetings and thinking about the best way to get things done with limited funds….
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
I haven’t really had to make that choice. I have been lucky enough to have a “day job” for a big institution like the Whitney or BAM and still be able to work on obscure little DIY projects that I care deeply about but that aren’t going to pay the bills. That model has been very satisfying and has actually led to many opportunities in the long run. Right now though (out of necessity) I am trying to do more paid freelance work…taking on clients, production/stage managing gigs, etc. Gotta bring home the soy bacon!