Linda Brown has been a vital part of the Accademia dell’Arte familyl since it’s inception. As Managing Director stateside she has been a driving force behind it’s growth and development and a guiding hand in turning it into the thriving school it is today. As Linda prepares to retire at the end of the 2013 Spring semester, we had the chance to ask her some questions about her time at the Accademia, her impressions, and most importantly her gelato recommendations in Arezzo!
How long have you worked for the Accademia?
I began helping Scott in Fall 2002 – putting together basic systems for the Accademia—accounting, databases, etc. I began working full time as Managing Director in 2004.
How did you first come to be involved with the school?
Scott was visiting Little Rock and talked to me about his vision for a school for the performing arts — I immediately wanted to work with him on the project. I was spending time in Italy as part of my travel agency duties, and visited Scott and his family in the village where they lived—Loro Ciufenna. On one of those visits, Scott and I talked about what I could do to help establish the Accademia, and that led at first to part-time work. We didn’t know at first that it would ever be a full time job, but it became apparent in late 2003 that the Accademia needed a full time Managing Director, and I moved into that role.
In a nutshell, what do you do at the Accademia?
In the beginning, I did mostly administrative tasks—establishing the accounting system, creating databases, working with the website designer and graphic design team, creating brochures and cards for direct-mail marketing, meeting professors and study abroad staff at colleges and universities. I worked closely with the Board of Directors and the Amici Advisory committee. I also managed our staff and spent a good deal of time in Italy with those and other duties. As we have grown, I’ve been able to delegate some of those tasks to our very talented staff.
You work very closely with the Amici primarily based in Little Rock, tell us about that organization and how other people can get involved in supporting the Accademia.
The Amici dell’Arte advisory committee are Jane McGehee Wilson, Lisa McNeir, Cindy Murphy, Greer Grace, Sandra Marbaise and Donna Cone, who has led the group since its inception. A membership ($50 annually) in the Amici dell’Arte assures involvement in our events, newsletters, and invitations to our Inside Tuscany trips, including our upcoming trip in October 2013.
My favorite trip was in early 1992 when I visited Melanesia, Papau New Guinea, and Irian Jaya.
The highlight of that trip was travelling two hours by zodiac boat up the Bow river to the village of Owus, where we spent the day with the villagers who live a near stone-age existence, except for the introduction of machetes.
You’ve spent a lot of time at the Villa Godiola and in the Arezzo area, what would be on your must-do list in and around Arezzo?
Many people come to see the most famous sights in Arezzo but miss the Archeological museum—with displays from the Etruscan roots of the area and beyond. The monastery of La Verna, founded by St. Francis of Assisi is very special. You can hike through the Casentino forest up to the monastery—and finish with a lovely lunch there as well. Another favorite day is a drive to Montalcino for a stroll and lunch, followed by a drive to Sant’Antimo monastery to hear the monks chant.
What is your favorite restaurant in Arezzo? Favorite gelato spot?
I like Fiaschetteria da Redi, a tiny place behind the San Francesco church. A newish and very good gelateria is near the Café di Costanza—I can’t remember the name! But with your back to Café Costanti on the Piazza San Francesco—head to the right downhill and it is a small place with a pink awning!
You’re retiring this spring, what will you miss the most about working for the Accademia?
I will miss the people—the staff, faculty, and students! And I’ll miss working with our stellar Board of Trustees, Amici committee and supporters.Most of all, I will miss the phone calls from students telling me about their “life-changing experience” at the Accademia dell’Arte.
Read more about the Accademia MFA program in Arezzo and learn about the core teaching faculty as well as other guest artists and the companies who work with the MFA students during the Torino, Berlin, and Czech Republic modules.