Jennifer Famery-Mariani: The Tribeca Art World by way of Sciences Po

  • Jennifer Famery-MarianiJennifer Famery-Mariani

Jennifer Famery-Mariani is an independent curator and the founder of Tribeca Art+Culture Night. Her career has spanned both the public and private sectors in Paris and New York. She believes that through Sciences Po, she was granted the exposure to different points of view, different student profiles, and different themes that prepared her to successfully navigate the professional world. 

Famery-Mariani remembers always having “a very strong passion for everything relating to political matters, the public realm and just the world of politics in itself.” After undergraduate studies at McGill, she entered straight into the public field, with internships first at the cabinet of the mayor of Saint-Denis, then in the cabinet of the mayor of Paris’ 9th arrondissement. Despite occupying such positions as a young graduate, she felt she needed to build “more specific knowledge about national politics, the administration, and the way things worked in France within public policy,” so she entered the Master of Public Affairs at Sciences Po. For Famery-Mariani, Sciences Po was the “ultimate candidate as a place of learning.” She particularly loved the fact that the program was a so-called professional degree. “There was a very involved kind of learning,” she recalls. “There was a very practical component to the masters that allowed us to interact with people who were already in politics, to hear about their experiences and how things happen on the ground.” She also looks back fondly on her projet collectif, an analysis of different state publicity campaigns in the 20th century, which eventually became a book. She describes the experience as very gratifying and ambitious, both getting to interview very high-level profiles such as Simone Weil and the experience of building a final finished product. 

After Sciences Po, Famery-Mariani returned to the mayor’s cabinet full time, working on economic development, cultural affairs, urban development, and financial issues, but after some time wanted more experience beyond the public field to “make sure [she] had a very wide array of experiences.” She went into strategy consulting, a role she felt had some commonalities with the advising role for a mayor or for a political figure. Her other strong interest in art and culture led her to next leave strategy consulting to pursue her art practice. She got a job in an art gallery in New York as a curator and art dealer. This job, says Famery-Mariani, “touched on all of my skills, whether it was my passion for art or my knowledge of the cultural world, curatorial experience, the public policy aspects or the business strategy components.” After working at the gallery, she decided the next step was to create a business of her own, and she founded a strategy consulting business for art organizations. As part of her new role, she began to produce events herself, including Tribeca Art+Culture night, a free quarterly arts festival hosted throughout venues in Tribeca, beginning in 2016. Famery-Mariani describes the event as “a mix between an open house, art walk and a festival… the exceptional program that presents a curated selection of exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops, is as diverse as the entities or spaces that are participating. With that in mind,” she adds, “the idea is also to mix together people from diverse walks of life and democratize access to art, while building the existing art community and giving them a platform to interact when they typically would not.”

When asked about the current state of the art world, Famery-Mariani describes four changes to the industry that she hopes might occur. The pandemic, she believes “gives a lot more time to have perspective and look at what is going on in the world. It is uncovering challenges and shedding light on different problems that society faces.” First, is a change in the scale of the art world. “The scale is going to become more local, and there is going to be more focus put on the value of the community,” she hypothesizes. Second, the fragmented structure of the industry is going to change. Relationships will increase and organization’s “end goals are going to be more 360.” Third, Famery-Mariani believes that “art will increasingly be used as a means to talk about social issues.” And as for the fourth change that could take place, “art will play a much larger role as a connector, as investigator, and as an enabler for change, and in particular to fight inequality,” she concludes. “We have to be hopeful that this whole situation is going to enable real changes in the future.”

Famery-Mariani’s advice for current Sciences Po students and young graduates is threefold. She advises students to, rather than focusing on a specific career after graduation, pick a position that allows for wide exposure in order to develop a diverse portfolio of skills, to “be involved in a lot of different communities.” She reminds young graduates to be open and flexible in response to rapid change. Most importantly, she advises students and graduates to “try and have a positive impact… and help people, because I think that's something that's becoming more and more important.” She stresses, too, the importance of staying involved with Sciences Po after graduation. “Beyond graduation there is a whole other world in which you can really get involved in student life, whether it's through teaching, even creating a projet collectif once you're a professional, or involvement with the Sciences Po American Foundation,” she adds. “There are so many ways to stay connected and involved, and I think that's a very strong aspect of community, just the alumni network.”

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