It’s hard to plan for how to follow your dreams. And those of us who work in the arts have landed here because of a personal calling, following an often non-linear path because dreams don’t form a straight line.
Individuals have been taking care of the business of arts for as long as art has existed, but arts administration still isn’t often a profession your high school counselor talks to you about or you see in children’s books about what to be when you grow up. In my experience, arts management chooses you.
I am a classically trained violinist who started my studies at the age 4 and took lessons and played in orchestras consistently for the first 30 years of my life. It took me traveling halfway around the world to Russia as a Peace Corps volunteer and the ambition of the conductor of the Volgograd Symphony Orchestra, who wanted to tour the orchestra in the United States, for me to wake up to the arts management profession. Without any formal training, I wrote the grant, booked the 5-city tour, promoted it, traveled, translated for and played with the ensemble.
Upon finishing my Peace Corps service, I added to my International Studies and Russian Language Bachelor’s degree (with a minor in music), graduate studies in arts management. I set my sights on a job with an orchestra since that was what I knew best. I was fortunate enough to earn a job with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra where I launched my official arts management career. From there, I moved onto The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center where I am currently the Associate Executive Director. Since working in the arts I have come to describe my career as a lifestyle. It is so much more than a job but in the best way possible.
I still remember driving to college and thumbing through the course catalog, choosing my degree based on a marketing blurb. Music had always been a part of my life but seemed more like a passion than a profession. I could have never predicted where my career would lead me. I have embraced a path that can only be determined by taking one step at a time, by following my instincts on what makes sense next. But every step is driven by my dream.
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