Leadership expansion announced at Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy

By Jane Hirtle

Jay Clayton
Curb Center director Jay Clayton (Vanderbilt University)

Jay Clayton, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in the Department of English, has been reappointed as director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy. As Clayton begins his new term, he is joined by a new associate director, Alexandre Frenette. The two will continue to expand the reach and visibility of the Curb Center and its core programs and activities, including the Creative Campus program, the Curb Scholars program and the advancement of arts policy research.

“It is so exciting to have Jay’s leadership in this area,” said John Geer, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “And now with Alex, the Curb Center is poised to advance even further its trans-institutional mission to integrate the arts into all aspects of our amazing community. I am excited to work with them in this critical effort.”

Clayton was first appointed director of the Curb Center in 2012. Under his guidance, the Creative Campus program—a nationally recognized model for supporting creativity across all the diverse parts of the Vanderbilt campus community—has grown significantly, as has the Curb Scholars program, which reaches over 2,000 students, faculty and staff each year as well as numerous members of the local community. The Curb Center has become not only a hub for creative activities across the Vanderbilt campus, but also a leader in arts and policy in Middle Tennessee and the nation. The Curb Center sponsors workshops, seminars and other events focused on using the arts for social good in Nashville community locations such as the Edgehill Community Center, the Arts and Business Council, and the Nashville Children’s Theatre, as well as hosts the Curb Creative Connection, an event that brings together faculty and students from each of the 12 schools across the nation that have been recipients of funding from the Mike Curb Family Foundation.

Curb Center Associate Director Alexandre Frenette
Curb Center Associate Director Alexandre Frenette

Clayton also has expanded the Curb Center’s research mission to examine the ways in which the arts can influence public policy, particularly at the intersection of the arts with science, technology and engineering. The center’s research agenda now includes policy works funded not only by arts organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, but also by the National Institutes of Health and a TIPs grant on “Music, Mind and Society.”

This progress will be amplified with the contributions of Frenette, who joins Vanderbilt as the associate director of the Curb Center as well as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. Frenette earned his Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 2014 before moving on to a postdoctorate program at the largest comprehensive school of art and design in the United States, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

“Alex brings enormous strengths in arts policy research to the Curb Center and specific expertise on cultural workers and the music industry,” said Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan. “Together, Jay and Alex will further the Curb mission of advancing public dialogue on issues, policies and organizational structures that affect artists, creative endeavors and individuals’ expressive lives in Nashville and beyond.”

Frenette’s research on artistic labor markets and the intern economy have won awards from the Labor and Employment Relations Association as well as the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and his work on arts graduates has received funding from the National Endowment of the Arts. His research will continue at Vanderbilt, including a soon-to-be-released report from the Curb Center on who stays and who leaves the arts after graduation.