Tamara Holmes Brothers was appointed to the position of Director of Development and Major Gifts at the Nasher Museum on October 1, 2018. She came to the museum from Fayetteville State University, where she was a senior development officer and then Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations since 2009. Brothers brings 17 years of fundraising expertise, mostly in academic and cultural institutions, and a lifelong interest in art education.
What was your most memorable visit to the Nasher Museum?
Prior to my new appointment as Director of Development and Major Gifts at the Nasher Museum, I tried to visit as often as I could. My most memorable visit was during the Nasher10 celebration in 2015, when I enlisted one of my best friends to come along. A distinctive gentleman wearing a hat entered the museum with a camera hanging from his shoulder. Immediately
I knew it was “the featured artist”—none other than Mr. Barkley Hendricks himself! My friend and I positioned ourselves right up front. Chief Curator
Trevor Schoonmaker had begun his brief talk when I heard the clicking of a camera. It was Mr. Hendricks taking photographs of my friend. I knew this was “a moment” for me to capture on my cell phone as Mr. Hendricks encircled my friend, taking photos. We introduced ourselves to the artist, noting we had driven from Fayetteville, and asked if we could take a photo with him. He was so personable and quickly obliged. We laughed, thanked
Mr. Hendricks for his time and talent, and were forever changed.
Why is art important?
Art changes everything, whether it is fine or performing art! Art is not only important because it raises academic achievement, but it is also important for social well-being, cultural awareness and real-world thinking. In my career, I have learned that employers want potential employees with a
certain set of skills … critical thinking, analytical skills, evaluation, reasoning and reflection, just to name a few. These skills can assist in making connections and comparisons with other cultural and disciplinary contexts.
What is the most surprising thing about fundraising—a thing that most of us might not know?
Too often, organizations become perplexed about what fundraising is—and what it is not. To apply for funding support just because money is available and not because the work will promote one’s mission is called fund chasing. Many groups chase money all over and, as a result, stray far away from their charge.
You are a board member of the North Carolina Arts Council Foundation, with a bird’s eye view of all 100 counties in this state, and you’re also on the board of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. How would you say North Carolina is doing, in terms of diversity in the arts?
There is always an opportunity to learn and grow. Cultural organizations
are essential to the American arts ecology. Encouraging the inclusion
and multiplicity of any given ethnic group can only enhance our knowledge
of history, human identity and our overall environment. But efforts cannot stop there. We have more work to be done and that can only happen by working collaboratively with open minds and open hearts. You’ve worked to support academic cultural institutions for a long time—first at Hampton University Museum & Archives, then at Fayetteville State University (Performing & Fine Arts Department and the Rosenthal Gallery), and now the Nasher Museum.
Why do universities need art museums?
What a wonderful question, given that this very concept was a major part of my doctoral dissertation (Ph. D. in educational management)! I actually learned during my freshman year at Hampton University (in University 101 as well as working in the museum all four years of my undergraduate tenure) that our university museum was a special place. Continued research suggests that instructing students through the arts may change the structure of their brains and the way they think. Utilizing the arts as a pedagogical tool to teach other disciplines provides more students with the opportunity to excel academically by offering an alternative learning environment. This concept brings the classroom into the museum and the museum into the classroom. University art museums like the Nasher have collaborated with students and faculty, and also with the community in the form of art engagement through Reflections: The Nasher Museum Alzheimer’s Program. This program provides engaging and interactive activities to visitors with memory loss, their families and their caregivers, and presents experiential learning as well. This serves as an important
cultural resource for the larger campus and surrounding community.
I’m excited to continue this work by cultivating as well as stewarding
current and new investors to partner with the Nasher!