To say that Natalie Marsh, director of education and outreach for Scottsdale Arts, is an advocate for the arts is an understatement.
Marsh serves as director of education and outreach for Scottsdale Arts, the nonprofit organization tasked with managing Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and Scottsdale Public Art. The native Michigander enjoyed painting starting in her childhood and went on to study it.
She worked as the school education coordinator for the Glenbow Museum — a massive art and history institution in Calgary, Alberta. Next, she worked for the city of Calgary, and later at its National Music Centre, a.k.a. Studio Bell, a five-story music museum and performance center.
She eventually left our northern neighbor to join Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as the Scottsdale Cultural Council). When Marsh took on her directorship in August 2016, she says the goal was to centralize educational programming so the various divisions of the organization could "more broadly reach citizens."
The newish Arizonan recently earned a master’s in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University out of Baltimore. Marsh says the reason she picked that program is because it focused on museums and cultural organizations in the 21st century. Topics ranged from how to embrace and utilize technology to how to create a conversation with visitors and work in collaboration with the community.
“Though I had zero social life because of it, having that constant flow of best practices and research really gave me that confidence and inspiration to bring into this role," she says.
Marsh also credits the Valley's arts community.
“I have so very quickly met such great people that I can already bounce ideas off of,” she says of connecting with people at Phoenix Center for the Arts, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Heard. “So that’s awesome. Yay, go arts community in Phoenix.”
So what does Marsh need to keep up with her busy, arty schedule? She has five essentials for that.
How to Be an Explorer of the World
Marsh says she loves the book How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith. Her copy has traveled along with her to more than a few jobs. “Whenever I’m looking for a quick activity for students or an icebreaker for adults, this is my go-to,” she says. “It’s also great when I need a boost of inspiration for myself.”
She says Smith has a great approach on how people can use their senses to look at the world with awe and wonder on a daily basis — “even for the most mundane things like rocks or textures.”
Marsh has a corgi named Rosie, and she’s an essential for ... basically everything Marsh does. “You pretty much can’t go five feet without someone stopping and squealing,” she says.
Madewell Convertible Canvas Backpack
Marsh says she’s always on the quest for something very specific, and one of her latest searches was for a backpack-meets-purse situation. “Something that could quickly switch to a purse when I’m headed to a meeting and then into a backpack when I’m commuting,” she says. “I finally found one at Madewell a few weeks ago. It’s also large enough to just fit my laptop, which is an added bonus.”
“Coffee? It’s a busy job,” March says. Since moving to the Valley, Marsh's go-to for caffeine has been Cartel Coffee Lab. The Remera blend is her fave.
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“When you go out into a new community,” Marsh says, “It’s so important to be a good listener.” Marsh says she’s met tons of people since August — everyone from government officials to people in small organizations, schools, senior centers, and communities — and she’s talked to many of them.
“You start to hear themes,” she says. “It’s when those themes start to come together is when you start to find a really meaningful nugget that the community needs, and that’s where we fit in. That’s where we can contribute to making Scottsdale a great place to live, and increasing the quality of life for our citizens. And that’s listening.”