Art Chang

1. Tell us about a meaningful experience you and/or a loved one had with the arts (dance, media, music, theater, or visual arts), either in school or in another setting. What did you and/or your loved one gain from this experience?

The arts have been an intrinsic part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am forever grateful for Ohio’s then-robust arts education programming. I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten. In 2nd grade, my teacher took my class to a room filled with instruments. “Pick any one,” she said. I got a violin, which started a decade of training that culminated with instruction by the Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, Richard Roberts. The arts were also an outlet and a means for expression from the racism and domestic violence I experienced as a child.

When I applied to college, I submitted a portfolio that included photography, graphic design, and painting. After high school, my first job was teaching chamber music in a summer music camp and serving as the camp’s audio engineer. One of my great thrills was sitting at the sound board at Tanglewood. At Yale, I became the second man to graduate in the Women’s Studies major and the first to concentrate in art history. I worked full-time while attending Yale full-time, starting in exhibit design and construction at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, then in architecture firms where I apprenticed and had a built project before I graduated.

The arts are an intrinsic part of my professional life. I moved to New York City because it is the creative capital of the world and to Brooklyn because Spike Lee was down the street from my Fort Greene apartment and it was the home of hip hop. I designed and built manufactured homes, worked for the architect I.M. Pei, and then helped put the Queens West waterfront development project in the ground, including completing its design and its 1 percent for art program.

I was a Board Member of the Brooklyn Public Library and worked to enable it to become the onramp to digital literacy in Brooklyn.

After that, I helped start a number of companies in and around the arts:

  • hooloo.com, the first e-commerce company in North America for Chinese language books and music
  • Splendid Television, a mini-series production company now owned by Dreamworks
  • Haystack Music, a social music pioneer that created sharable playlists and negotiated the first on-demand music streaming licenses
  • Cookstr, the only recipe website for cookbook recipes
  • Qwire, the platform for managing the process of incorporating music and other IP into network TV

I’m proud of my efforts to bring artists and creators of all kinds closer to their work and to participate in the revenue for that work.

Watching William Forsythe has forever changed my definition of art. I last saw SLIDER performed in 2013 at BAM, which moved me so much I bought tickets to see it again.

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NYC AiE Roundtable