Adia Morris Swanger connects artists & nurtures family

Editor’s note: As the national platform for Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange has long been a platform to highlight the artists, resources, and efforts in our national network. In this pandemic, as Springboard for the Arts’ work is increasingly online and accessible nationally, we’ll be turning the spotlight on Springboard staff and our Artist Career Consultants, to share more about who we are, and the work we do. Enjoy!

Adia Morris Swanger is a mom and theater artist. She works as an actor, director, writer, dancer, choreographer and teacher, and at Springboard for the Arts, she is the Program Manager, Professional Development. Her work at Springboard encompasses workshops, working with the Artist Career Consultants, and leading curriculum development for the Work of Art: Business Skills for Arts. You may recognize her from her weekly webisodic essays on TPT’s Almanac – watch them all!

Share a little about your creative practice.
I didn’t really believe those that said that having a baby often puts art on the back burner, but it really does. Or at least, for some of us, it changes your priorities around art making. I’ve been a theatre artist for a long time, acting and choreographing as part of that, and dabbling in writing as well since I was a kid. Lately, my only creative outlet has been writing monologues for Almanac and jotting down writing prompts for the fiction works I hope to make someday. I could also say that raising a child is my creative practice, because it takes a ton of creativity to keep childcare from becoming YouTube and Amazon Prime’s responsibility. I’m trying to stay open to seeing everyday objects and processes like I’m seeing them for the first time, which is kind of magical. Adults take so much of how the world works for granted while kids are trying to figure it all out for the first time. 

How did you start working with Springboard for the Arts?
I applied for a job (that I didn’t get) and then Laura Zabel, Springboard’s Executive Director, recommended me for a video series that Health Program Director Nikki Hunt was creating for Springboard’s MNsure Navigator program. Laura then recommended me to Levi Weinhagen (who worked at TPT at that time) to host an arts program they were piloting (TV Takeover). Molly Chase, then Springboard’s Managing Director, asked if I wanted to be a Work of Art workshop facilitator. After that, I applied for the Operations Assistant opening and got it this time.

What are projects that you have going right now or an idea in the making? What’s a project you’d like to see happen?
Heh, see my first answer. A project I am working on now is reviving my sewing skills from my college costume shop days.

Adia Morris Swanger in a grey dress seated on a grey couch resting her head on her hand
What’s something you wish others knew about you?

I’ve said it a lot, so maybe everyone already knows, but I often say, “I’m not really an extrovert, I just play one on TV (and at work).” I’m super happy to be at home 95% of the time, not saying anything to anyone, but I’ve learned to be extroverted because introverts (especially Black women introverts) are easily mischaracterized as standoffish, stuck up, or mean. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn, and it’s costly, so sorry if I don’t attend your thing!

Springboard Resources
Artist Career Consultants, available for virtual consultations:
Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists toolkit: