John V. Brown, Jr., J.D.
Vice Provost for the Arts
Director of the Jazz Program
Professor of the Practice of Music
Bassist, composer, educator and actor John Brown is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and currently resides in Durham, NC. He is a graduate of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
John joined Duke University’s music department as an adjunct instructor in 2001, becoming assistant professor of the practice of music and director of the Duke Jazz Program in 2003. That same year he founded Jazz @ the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, a weekly live jazz jam session open to campus and community, now driven by student leadership in the Duke University Union. He began his tenure as Duke’s first full-time Vice Provost for the Arts on July 1, 2020.
Ask John Brown about:
- Jazz @ the Mary Lou
- Student collaborations with the VPA office
- The life of a performer
Director of Programming
A native Midwesterner, Aaron attended Butler University for his undergraduate degree and worked for several years in social services before beginning graduate school. He holds a Master’s and Doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For the past decade, Aaron has been at the forefront of integrating the arts into academic institutions and presenting innovative creative experiences. He served as the inaugural Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Arts@TheCore at Carolina Performing Arts, and then as Director of Engagement. After several years as the Director of Programming for the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Aaron returned to the south as Director of Georgia Tech Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In this role Aaron led the organization through the Covid-19 pandemic, creating the award-winning Skyline Series of outdoor performances in the middle of a parking lot and bringing innovative VR and other technology-based installations to campus. He joined the Duke Arts team in April 2023.
Ask Aaron Shackelford about:
- Arts programming & curation
- Art & technology
- Negotiating the arts industry
Director of Marketing and Communications
Originally from Oxford, Mississippi, Frances lived in New York City for 17 years before relocating to Durham, North Carolina in 2020. Frances has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Barnard College and a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Administration from New York University.
Frances has worked for some of the nation’s leading arts institutions in communications, marketing, ticketing, audience engagement, and audience development. She began her career in the Artistic Department at American Ballet Theatre before working in marketing at Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Town Hall. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Frances served as the Director of Marketing and Digital Strategy for Off-Broadway’s Irish Repertory Theatre, where she led the company’s transition to become “the leader in streaming theater productions” (Theatermania), expanding audiences by over 50 percent. She joined the team at Duke Arts in May 2022.
Ask Frances Howorth about:
- Live Event Marketing
- Social Media Advertising
- Arts in NYC
Paul Kartcheske is the Production Manager for Duke Arts. Being part of the events community for over 30 yrs. Paul has been involved in many areas of the arts from performer to funder. He has worked in theatre, film, TV, visual arts, teacher, and as consultant on projects. Paul has a BA in Cinema, a MBA, and a Master of Environmental Management from Duke (’07). He enjoys drawing from his interdisciplinary arts background and a love of getting to know people to create unique solutions for a variety of challenges, both for his professional and personal projects. As a son of two Marines, he has lived in many places, but North Carolina is home. Paul enjoys drawing, collecting, and helping friends with art projects.
Ask Paul Kartcheske about:
- Theatre/Live Performance
- Getting involved with the Arts
Manager of Campus & Community Initiatives
As Manager of Campus & Community Initiatives, Brian Valentyn works with artists, faculty, and community partners to devise in-depth residencies and commissioned projects. He also oversees grant writing strategy for the office. Brian received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the Department of English at Duke, where he completed a dissertation on experimental art and ethics. As a student, he was the recipient of Andrew W. Mellon and James B. Duke fellowships and was selected as a Franklin Humanities Institute fellow in 2010-11. He went on to teach American literature at Auburn University, winning the English department’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. A native of the Chicago area, Brian has had a lifelong interest in the arts and counts performing at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington festival in 1998 as a transformative moment personally and professionally. Before coming to Duke in 2005, he served on the Hancher Auditorium Advisory committee as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, where he studied English, philosophy, and creative writing.
Ask Brian Valentyn about:
- Building community through the arts
- Producing & commissioning new work
- Forging interdisciplinary connections
Duke Arts Visual and Studio Art Manager
Lecturing Fellow in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies
Bill Fick has been a practicing artist and educator for more than 30 years and has been a lecturing fellow in the Duke Department of Art, Art History and Visual studies for 16 years. He has a deep interest in making art and promoting art by others – especially those in the local arts community.
His current work focuses on monsters, clowns, misfits and low-life characters that reflect society’s ever-growing anxieties and insecurities. These images are presented in a variety of forms including prints, posters, and t-shirts.
Bill studied at Duke (‘86) and majored in Art. He then completed his MFA (Painting and Printmaking) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Ask Bill Fick about:
- Pursuing a career in the arts
- Engaging with the local arts community
Student Engagement Coordinator
Anna Wallace is a current resident and native of Durham, North Carolina. She holds a BFA in Ceramics from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a practicing studio artist and arts educator. The work in Anna’s studio infiltrates, as if the rugs, chairs, and vessels sprouted legs and marched out of the home and into the white box of the gallery. The colors, pattern density, and visual stimulation demand we pay attention. Her practice spans sculpture, installation, and performance.
Ask Anna Wallace about:
- Mending clothes to make them last
- DukeCreate Workshops
- Social Practice Art
Yesenia Martinez-Yanez is a graphic designer, artist, and marketing communicator from Timberlake, North Carolina. Attracted by the visual arts from an early age with drawing and painting, Yesenia set foot on the creative career path when she studied at Appalachian State University to receive her BFA in Graphic Design. She’s designed several books exploring experimental typography, imagery, and writing. Her journey to Duke began with joining the Marketing and Engagement team at the Nasher Museum of Art. To further deepen the connection between art and the public at the Nasher, she relaunched and rebranded a video series, The Art Minute, that features recollections of sentimental narratives from museum staff inspired by artworks on view. Yesenia continues to build the bridge between art and community through web and social media channels at Duke Arts. Yesenia joined the Duke Arts team in August 2022.
Ask Yesenia Martinez-Yanez about:
- Editorial Design
- Video Storytelling
- Marketing Design
Originally from Lenoir, North Carolina, Lauren lived in Washington, DC for 3 years before relocating to Durham in 2010. She is a graduate of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Lauren has worked for several non-profit and government agencies as an Employment Specialist and Case Manager working with mental health, substance abuse, and IDD communities.
She began her career a Duke in 2017 working at Duke Health in the Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology departments as a staff assistant. She moved to Duke University in 2018 as a staff assistant at Sanford School of Public Policy in the Development & Alumni Relations department. In May of 2022 she joined the Duke Arts team as Administrative Assistant to Vice Provost John Brown.
Ask Lauren Keyes about:
- Scheduling availability for VP Brown
- General Inquiries regarding Duke Arts
- Local animal rescue volunteer opportunities
Carla Sturdivant is a Departmental Business Manager supporting Duke Arts. She started at Duke in 2003 with the Fuqua School of Business. She previously served as a Grants Administrator in the Pratt School of Engineering and most recently as the Departmental Business Manager in Romance Studies prior to joining PAS.