“There are gonna be freakin’ holograms. It’s amazing!” Development Director Miles Markstein Plays the Long Game.

Miles Markstein’s shift into the social sector was with the city of Santa Cruz, where he helped draft public statements and prepare events for the city, like the Tour of California. Further back, Miles designed websites, a fast-paced job mainly done solo, with a quick start-to-finish turnaround. But his job with Santa Cruz gave him an appreciation for seeing through long-term projects and doing work to build community engagement and belonging. 

At ARTogether, Miles found a place to build: 

“ARTogether has helped me figure out my role. I see fundraising as this long-term project I can really dig into to help ARTogether continue to grow. It’s great to be able to use my strengths to support all our programs and facilitate what artists need to do,” Miles says.

As ARTogether’s Development Director, Miles helps secure grants for artists, program initiatives, and the organization as a whole. A huge responsibility, but Miles enjoys the process of moving ARTogether, toward a more fiscally secure future. 

That, and, he loves art. He loves artists. He is in constant conversation with immigrant and refugee artists about their projects and goals. This is one of his favorite parts of the job: engaging with artists and their projects that push the limits of art’s capability; and helping them get their projects fulfilled. You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about them:  

“There’s going to be traditional dances and music and lights and holograms. There are gonna be freaking holograms. It’s amazing!”  Miles tells me of A Deepest Blue, an upcoming project with ARTogether partner artist, Prumsodun Ok

Miles doesn’t mention this: thanks to his hard work, ARTogether was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant. This grant will help support A Deepest BlueMiles also worked closely with community organizer and music producer Guled Muse, to obtain the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts (DDFIA) Building Bridges Grant. The project, titled Khamsa, will be a collaborative effort led by Guled Muse and managed by ARTogether.

Son of a diplomat, Miles has lived a nomadic life. He has lived in Cairo, Yugoslavia, Australia, DC, New Orleans and Santa Cruz. As a result, he has had to toughen up, move quickly; and, learn how to start over, in brand new surroundings, multiple times in his life. In each new city, community and youth centers like The Boys And Girls Club of America gave Miles and his friends a consistent place to go. These spaces gave people a place to go and not just hang out with one another, but to also exchange ideas and expand upon new ones, together. Miles wants the same for those who have been displaced and those who feel out of place. He wants to empower people by offering a space where they can gather to make connections, spark conversations and create strong, lasting communities. 

“Seeing people disconnected is my biggest fear and heartache. Nobody should have to live that lonely. And that is exactly how immigrants are when they first relocate here. I want to make sure they don’t stay that way,” Miles says. And, this is his ultimate vision for ARTogether’s future: a gathering place for artists and immigrants to connect, create and strengthen their communities. 


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