Whitney Museum of American Art

Danielle Bias, Director of Communications

Danielle Bias didn't set out to work in PR, but following her move from New Orleans to NYC, a stint in venture capital quickly sent her in the right direction. Since then, Danielle has been on the comms teams at cultural institutions Jazz at Lincoln Center and most recently the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she serves as the director of communications (a well-deserved promotion she landed last year). We caught up with her to hear how her work has shifted thanks to the increasingly-digital media landscape, plus her advice for anyone aspiring to be an art communications pro. 

How did you get your start in the art communications field? 

I moved to New York City from New Orleans in 1999 when I was very young and my first job was as an assistant at a venture capital firm. I quickly learned that I had no interest in the worlds of finance or banking, so I reached out to contacts back home who connected me with the jazz composer and musician Wynton Marsalis, who is the artistic director at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He was looking for someone who had strong knowledge of jazz, which I had a passion for, and good writing skills to do some copywriting for JALC. He hired me as a temp and I eventually joined JALC’s public relations team. I had never intended to work in arts communication; it just sort of worked out that way.

What’s been your path to the position you currently have?

I joined the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2016. My first role at the museum was as a senior communications manager, focused on promoting special exhibitions and education programs. I worked my way up the ranks and was promoted to Director of Communications in 2020.

What does your role as Director of Communications at the Whitney entail? Has the changing media landscape impacted your day-to-day?

In my role, I manage a small team that is focused on strategic communications and reputation management, as well as promoting the museum’s programs and exhibitions. Over the course of my career in the field of arts communications, the landscape has changed in very meaningful ways as a result of social media and due to the increasing importance of digital content. I think the best communicators in our fields are great storytellers who can create compelling content and pitch resonant ideas, and that is what I try to do with my work.

What is your favorite part of the work you do?

I am constantly learning and being challenged intellectually.

What are some current or upcoming projects you’re excited about?

The next Whitney Biennial, the museum’s flagship exhibition, was originally scheduled to be presented earlier this year, but it had to be delayed until spring 2022 as a result of the pandemic. As much as I am looking forward to seeing what artists have been up to during this current period of turmoil and change, I am also excited to witness how audiences will engage with their work, and whether that will look or feel remarkably different from past recent biennials.

What would be your advice for people starting out their careers, who want to get into your industry?

Decide where you want to go, then walk your own path to get there.


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