In honor of Women’s History Month we interview a series of women who have played a role in making the Roger Smith Hotel what it is today. First up is Danika Druttman.
Danika has been involved with the Roger Smith, dreaming up and implementing an electric arts and cultural program for over 10 years. While still having a hand in the program here, she recently founded Mira Muse, designing and producing cultural programs and initiatives for hotel brands.
We talked all things art, hotels, finding inspiration and favorite podcasts.
Previously, I had been working at The LAB, a performance and installation project space powered by the Roger Smith. When it closed I had an opportunity to reimagine the hotel’s cultural efforts with a focus on the hotel’s spaces. The hotel was open to testing out creative engagements based around visual arts, music, poetry, as well as a more scholarly initiatives like artist and cultural leadership development…it’s been an incredible opportunity to see first hand what a cultural program can do for a hotel.
James Knowles, the Roger Smith’s CEO has spent 3 decades championing a truly unique hotel experience that is based in creative and intellectual engagement. You could say they were pioneers really. They made a commitment to acting as a gateway to cultural endeavors in New York, both for artists making work and people wanting to experience it. My predecessors, Molly Barnes, Jill Brienza and Matt Semler have paved an incredible path. I am really proud to be part of such a formidable list.
This is such a hard question, I have been so proud of every show and each artist we’ve worked with in these spaces!
The hotel has an ongoing relationship with Vermont Studio Center, the largest artist and writers residency program in North America. It’s a remarkable experience for an artist to through that program. We created the Roger Smith Fellowship in 2016, it’s available to one artist per year, they are awarded a month at VSC followed by a solo show in the lobby of the hotel. This has been a project close to my heart, I’ve loved working with VSC and the artists we’ve selected. We have had 2 artists come through the fellowship so far; the architectural designer Meg Kalinowski produced a site-specific ceiling installation for the lobby in 2017, and Hunter Potter created a collection of paintings rooted in the Vermont/New York landscape in 2018. The 2019 artist will be announced this month!
The Shed opens at the beginning of April, it’s a new arts center on the West Side, in Hudson Yards. It was designed by the inimitable architect Elizabeth Diller (her firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro also designed The Highline, Lincoln Center and the MoMA expansion) and not only is the building remarkable, their programming is set to be pretty epic. I have tickets in spring to see Norma Jean Baker of Troy, based on Euripides’ Greek tragedy Helen. The soprano Renee Fleming and actor Ben Whishaw are the leads. I can’t wait!
My podcast subscription list is on a continuous loop of appraisal, accruing and culling. Though I take great pleasure in it, it’s not this act of maintenance that keeps me motivated. Rather, it’s the listening part. A really smart, thoughtful, entertaining podcast has my devotion. It has the ability to transform my day.
The Guilty Feminist– Australian raised, London based comedian and feminist writer Deborah Frances White has a weekly live podcast that she describes as a “forum to discuss the big topics all 21st century feminists agree on, whilst confessing our “buts” – the insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that undermine our lofty principles’.
It’s hilarious, smart, honest, a true pleasure of my week.
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day- British Journalist and author Elizabeth Day is the creator and host of How to Fail’. Each episode she interviews a guest, someone who by all standards is considered to have succeeded in life. The twist is that she talks with them about their failures, the moments where things went wrong…did not go to plan, and what they learned from it.
I find it so inspiring and empowering to be reminded of the transformational value of failure in the journey to success.
Design Matters– Debbie Millman does a deep dive into creative culture through interviews with people from a spectrum of creative disciplines, including Simon Sinek, Brené Brown, Alain de Botton, Isaac Mizrahi and Deborah Kass.
Warm, insightful interviews, I finish every episode feeling like my brain is a little bigger and stronger.
I recently launched a new business, Mira Muse. We produce bespoke arts and cultural programs for hotels. My time at the Roger Smith was so formative in my understanding and appreciation of the value of a multi dimensional hotel experience and bringing local arts and culture to the hotel space, it is an amazing way of lifting a hotel out of the expected and into the remarkable. Who doesn’t want that kind of hotel visit!
For more information email – Danika Druttman at email@example.com