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Sandler, Joan , 1981 November 10

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Actress and arts administrator Joan Sandler lectured on 11/10/1981 (2015-0002/RR263). Not becoming active in the arts until her 30s, Sandler worked as a clerk and political activist before beginning to study theatre at the Negro Ensemble Company in the mid-1960s. Although she landed a role in the television drama series, Black Girl, Sandler turned to a career in art, and in 1975 began working as a program specialist for the Department of Cultural Affairs and then began working for the Black Theatre Alliance and Fundraising in the Public Interests. From 1983-1987, Sandler was the head of Community Education at the Metropolitan Museum. Following that appointment, Sandler went to work for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Museum of American Folk Art, and in 2001, Sandler was the director of the Romare Bearden Foundation.

In addition, Sandler also was a lecturer and faculty member at Hunter College, New York University, Marymount College, and Princeton University.

RR 263 Ms. Sandler discusses her experiences and transition into the field of arts administration and why she finds it fascinating and stimulating.


  • 1981 November 10

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Joan Delores Sandler was born on October 2, 1934 in Harlem, New York. Sandler was educated in New York City public schools earning her high school diploma in 1952 from the New York High School of Music and Arts.

After graduation, Sandler worked as a clerk for an insurance company. She also surrounded herself with artists and musicians, while becoming a political activist involved in the peace movement. In the early 1960s, Sandler began studying theatre with the Negro Ensemble Company and landed a role on the television drama series, Black Girl.

In 1975, Sandler joined the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as a program specialist. From there, she went on to work for a number of arts organizations and museums, including the Black Theatre Alliance (New York, New York); the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York), where she served as Community Education Director from 1983 until 1987; the National Endowment for the Arts (Washington D.C.), where she served as liaison to local arts councils and cultural institutions in New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands from 1988 to 1993; and the Museum of American Folk Art (New York, New York), where she served as director of educational programming from 1995 to 2000. Throughout her career, Sandler also managed fundraising campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and the Bronx Museum of Art, and acted as consultant to clients including UNESCO, Foundation Afrique en Creations, Arts Connection, and Essence Magazine, among others. In the early 2000s, Sandler served as the executive director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, a non-profit organization established by the estate of artist Romare Bearden to support educational programs, exhibits, and scholarship related to Bearden’s work and the work of other African American artists and scholars. Sandler held academic positions at Bank Street College Graduate School of Education (New York, New York), Hunter College (New York, New York), New York University, and Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey).

Sandler continued to consult in arts education and was a lecturer and faculty member at Hunter College, New York University, Marymount College and Princeton. She served as an advisor to many foundations and grant making organizations, receiving a number of awards and honors for her contributions to arts education.

Sandler passed away on April 7, 2020.

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1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording) : RR 263 1 reel, 0:40:35; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
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Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US