Mark Larson

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Mark Larson is an interviewer and curator for which compiles his conversations across the country about life in 21st century America. In 2019, he published, “Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater” (Agate Publishing).

In 2005, he joined National-Louis University as an assistant professor in Secondary Education, the Director of Partnerships and co-director of the Center for City Schools in November 2005. Previously, he was Director of Education at Lincoln Park Zoo (2002-2005), and Manager of Educational Partnerships and School Programs at The Field Museum (1998-2002). Prior to moving to the museum, Larson was an English teacher at Evanston Township High School for 14 years. In 1995, he received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Golden Apple Foundation of Chicago.
From 1998-2004, he served as Chair of the Golden Apple Academy. He has made numerous presentations on topics ranging from innovations in teaching to developing collegial relationships in schools. He is currently vice-chair of the board of directors at Polaris Charter Academy in West Humboldt Park.

As an educator, he published two books, Making Conversation: Collaborating with Colleagues for Change; and, with Betty Jane Wagner, Situations: A Casebook of Virtual Realities for the English Teacher, both by Heinemann Books. In 1996, he received the Farmer Award for Best Article for English Journal.

Before beginning a career in education, he worked in theater and television as a special assistant to Burr Tillstrom, creator of the 50’s television program Kukla, Fran and Ollie. With Burr, he worked on three television specials for NBC, appeared at the Kennedy Center, and for three Christmas runs at the Goodman Theater. He co-wrote and –produced Kukla, Fran and Ollie: A Reminisce with Fran Alison for NBC and was a consultant for the Chicago Historical Society exhibit: Here We Are Again!

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.