By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press
On Thursday, I returned to my alma mater, Duke University, for the first time since my 5 year reunion. I was invited to present at the DEMAN (Duke Entertainment, Media, and the Arts Network) symposium to share ideas among alumni and students as part of the 2010 Duke Arts Festival. I was so honored to be part of this vibrant information exchange and celebration of the arts.
Right now I am sitting in Perkins Library, THE busiest place on Duke’s campus and where I spent much of my undergraduate tenure. I’m humbled to say that all three of LPP’s What Does It Mean To Be . . . ?® titles are now among the over 6 million volumes in the library’s prestigious collection. It only seemed fitting that I draft my impressions of the DEMAN weekend from a comfortable chair in Perkins Library.
The People. Thirty Duke alums representing a wide variety of professions across the entertainment, media, and arts industries participated in the DEMAN event. Among them: Fred Goldring, Founder of Goldring Strategies, former entertainment lawyer to huge recording artists, and current member of the President’s Committee on the Arts; Rome Hartman, Executive Producer of BBC World New America; Dan Levinson, President of Moxie Pictures, a global, multimedia production company; and Viswa Subbaraman, Founder and Artistic Director of Opera Vista, an award-winning opera company in Houston, TX.
To give you a sense of the students who participated in the event, let me summarize the profiles of a couple of the students who sat at our table last evening. Alexa is a senior majoring in Russian who is a classical violinist and who adores contemporary art. She comes from a family of artists, is interested in pursuing a career in the arts, and is seeking more information about what’s out there for her. Sarah is a sophomore majoring in Literature who is also a violinist, and enjoys writing poetry. She is trying to figure out how she can make a living writing as she has been told that most writers are also Starbucks® baristas.
The Mission. The objective of DEMAN is to offer a medium to help alumni engage with students and other alumni, opening previously unopened doors in these industries of talent. As William Wright-Swadel, Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Duke Career Center, said in his address to alumni and students last night, the alumni are part of the Duke family, here to be helpful to you, to answer your questions, to dispel myths, to open doors, and to invest themselves in you.
The Passion. Another speaker at the dinner last night identified the common denominator of the disparate members of DEMAN quite simply as passion. We are passionate about what we do; we are passionate about Duke; and we really want to help Duke students to live their dreams.