We had the good fortune of connecting with Eugene Hutchins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eugene, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is a calculation. It’s about the magic word “if.” And understanding what could happen or should happen if I choose what path or another. Being involved as a professional in the world of arts and culture is a risk because it is unpredictable in many ways, but I believe there are ways to mitigate the risks by being prepared and seeing how your actions fit into the big picture. For instance: I have a BA in Dance from UCLA and a MM in Opera Stage Directing from Florida State University. By having these degrees in highly specialized fields could be limiting, but for me it was an opportunity to explore my passion. It was worth the risk of entering a field that may not always be the most lucrative or easy to break into, but ultimately I felt it was worth the risk because it satisfied what I wanted to contribute to the world. Nearly 20 years after after finishing my last degree, I am still learning and still fulfilled by the choices I made and the lessons I learned still impact and inform what I do today as a working professional in the arts.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Through the diversity of my career and my own inherent intellectual curiosity, I have worn many different hats in the world of the arts and culture. This has given me a deep reservoir of skills and professional experiences I believe should be seen as an added value when someone engages my services. As an example, I have written numerous successful grant proposals and taught drama and dance. This combination might be very useful to an arts nonprofit that might be looking for a grant writer or development professional to their staff. However, imagine in a few years as the organization evolves and grows, I can adapt and play different roles as the organization evolves. Our landscape is rapidly changing and nonprofits especially in the arts must be nimble to meet the many unforeseen challenges (i.e Covid) that might arise in the future. Having a generalist like me on board can help steady the ship when meeting those challenges in the future and keep your bottom line in check because you may not need to hire or add that extra staff member when you have someone like me on board who can fill in when faced with those sudden talent-gaps and/or short-term challenges.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love overlooking the city from on high. And depending on the friend’s interest, a visit to either The Getty or Griffith Observatory is a great start. We have so many culinary hotspots, but for sheer variety I love going to Grand Central Market in Downtown. Whatever you are in the mood, they most likely have it hear from Chinese Food to tacos to BBQ. Then, I would take Angels Flight up the Hill. It quick and trip and you are on Grand Ave, where you catch a free recital at Colburn School or see amazing art exhibits at The Broad and marvel at Walt Disney Hall’s architecture. From the urban to the suburban, I have to give a shout out to The Valley Relics Museum in the San Fernando Valley. It’s total pop-culture, blast from the past, that is filled with all sorts of memorabilia that shows a completely different side of Los Angeles. And then a trip to seeing the Watts Towers is to me awe inspiring. Finally, of course, I think a trip to Venice Beach to people watch and soak up the sun would be the end of a great week in Los Angeles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people who have influenced me and supported me throughout my life and career. And I wish I could name them all. I would like to dedicate this to someone who was very important to me during my formative years in junior and senior high school. She was a mentor to me and gave me my first opportunities to teach, director, and choreograph in a safe and supportive environment. Her name is Lurrine Burgess. She was the founder and director of the Southern California Conservatory of Music. She had a big heart and was endlessly devoted to her music school and her students.
Photo: Toni LeBel