Anne Picq, at the intersection of the arts and social enterprises

2019-11-03

We caught up with Anne Picq, a 2002 Sciences Po graduate working at the intersection of the arts and social enterprises. Here she shares her thoughts on working with museums on both sides of the Atlantic, and her experience collaborating with prestigious cultural institutions in New York City. 

What is your background at Sciences Po? 

Studying at Sciences Po after my license in philosophy was a way for me to explore new subject matters and above all find my professional path. It was in 2000, the first year after the reform, and the first year of the Master of Arts Management. I chose to study both journalism and cultural management, two fields I then worked in. I felt very lucky to have so many choices. For example, I can remember taking a class on Gardens in England in the 18th century as well as a class on the French prison system. As we were studying the situation of prisons in France and abroad, I entered a prison for the first time, a life-changing experience for me. A few years later, working in a museum, I went back to visit incarcerated persons with another purpose, bringing art to them. Sciences Po opened something. 

Why did you choose to work in the United States?

As a museum professional, I was very inspired by American museums, especially their reputation for excellence in audience engagement. I also thought it would be interesting to learn more about another context—private vs public funds, for example—and experience a different way of conceiving and implementing cultural projects. 

I moved to New York in 2016. Before that I was director of education, public programs and visitor experience at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. I also worked for Beaux Arts magazine as deputy editor in chief. Today my work allows me to collaborate with artists, curators, educators, scholars, people of different backgrounds, who bring diverse perspectives to a project. 

What do you do at work? What are your activities, missions and objectives?

In New York, inspired by my experience in France, I founded a cultural initiative named arts4society, dedicated to advancing inclusion through the arts. My goal is to create unique experiences and bring art to people who don’t have access to it. To do so, we connect key players from different environments such as artists, cultural institutions, social or educational organizations, and companies who want to improve their social impact and engage their employees in social causes. In New York, it all started with a program I launched between The Frick Collection and a public school with a diverse student population, bringing art to students and students to the museum, often for the very first time. 

I love being exposed to different cultures, trying to understand other contexts. It takes a lot of patience and humility to understand what you can bring to the conversation and where you can be most useful.

Is this experience part of your long term professional trajectory?

Totally. Coming from a public institution, I think I wouldn’t have made the same choices in France, especially starting an entrepreneurial venture bridging art and social impact. I believe that the extraordinary power of New York, beyond the connections it allows, is to lead you to better express your convictions and believe in your mission. 

I don’t want to compare French and American cultural institutions—it wouldn’t make sense—but coming to the US it became clearer to me that there are truly extraordinary initiatives in France, and that we don’t value them enough. Because of our very French mission de service public, a specific approach to public service, museums for example have created amazing initiatives to reach new audiences and improve accessibility. It is important for me to valorize this savoir-faire and philosophy here in the US as much as I can.  

What is your message to current Sciences Po students and young graduates?

What I like about Sciences Po is the blend of academic excellence and professional skills it offers. But above all Sciences Po brings unique opportunities. I have been very inspired by the professionals and teachers I encountered during my two years at Sciences Po. I still continue to see or work with some of them. They became mentors to me in a way. 

I am impressed by the way Sciences Po evolves, such as through the new admissions process. I also often speak with students in the Columbia-Sciences Po program, which seems very interesting. I think that Sciences Po students can be confident about their next steps. The most difficult part is maybe to find one’s own way. 

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