Anita Durst has been a star, a muse, and a patron of the avant-garde performing arts and emerging arts scene in New York City, since she was 18. She founded Chashama in 1995 following the death of her mentor and artistic professor Reza Abdoh. While performing and working in his company, Dar A Luz, she learned the value of unbridled expression and how to value art objectively. In the wake of Reza’s absence, she was driven to create a place for artists free of financial and subjective constraints. Chashama supports artists by partnering with property owners to transform unused real estate into space to create and present, and provides free art classes for under-resourced communities. Anita has worked tirelessly for over 20 years to secure over one million square feet of space in New York City for artists. She believes programs like Chashama are the vital building blocks to ensuring cultural capital in New York City. Anita sits on the boards of the Tai Chi Chuan Center and Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.
What was your first job in the Arts?
I worked for Anne Hamburger in 1989.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
That I hated filing but understood that you could put art anywhere.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
When I understood there was an industry.
What do you do now?
Artistic Director at Chashama.
Where are you from?
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Find a good mentor and network.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
What has been a challenge for you?
What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?
Dictate my email (like this answer).
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
Pick up poop.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
Employee: Someone who is smarter than me.
Boss: Someone with an open mind and dedicated and hard working.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
Their resume, interview and how well they do on the test I give them.
What is your advice to make yourself stand out in your workplace?
Going beyond the call of duties, having vision and focus and caring about your job.
Any good tips for giving a great interview?
Know who you are interviewing for and understand if you meet their criteria well.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Don’t try to make your art your income.
Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share?
If you can keep it a secret: I use to be a ninja clown!
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
Bated Breath Theater Company with VOYEUR.