Friday, May 31, 2013

London Calling

Thanks to the BBC, I associate Doctor Who 
with London and English culture. TARDIS landing 
documented by me at The Way Station in Brooklyn. 

Next Wednesday "morning," (I use the term loosely, since I'll be leaving the house at 4AM...) I'll be getting on a plane for London! I'm heading there for a 10-week internship at Bush Theatre through the Global Programs Office at NYU. I'll mainly be working with Marketing and Development, but since it's such a small staff and I'm going to be the only intern, I should have the opportunity to assist other departments too.

Some folks have asked why I want to go to London for an internship, when I'm studying in NYC with amazing institutions here at my fingertips.* The short answer is that I want to know what an arts manager in training from the US can learn from a theatre in the UK and vice versa.

Located in Shepherd's Bush, the Bush is an Off-West End theatre, similar in size, mission, and reputation to NYTW. Both focus on the production of new plays. The on-paper similarities of these two institutions present me with a unique opportunity to compare and contrast how they operate. I hope to gain insight into how the differing levels of public investment (both the monetary kind and the attitudes that influence levels of fiscal commitment) affect the decisions arts administrators make, specifically in regards to technology.

I know that I will be able to observe at least one technology-related decision-making process first-hand during my internship at the Bush. While I'm there, the staff will be investigating options to upgrade a collaborative online forum. I'm stoked that I'll have the chance to dust off my business analyst hat and help with the project!

I'm also a total BBC nerd. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Top Gear, and Coupling, to name a few of my favorite programs. And after seeing London represented so many times, I really want to experience it for myself. 

Given the quality of (at least some) of their television programming, I'm very excited to see the live art being produced there now. I know that Bush Theatre's current production, Disgraced, started here at LCT3 and Once just recently hopped across the pond in that direction too. I'd like to learn more about the new contemporary and experimental theatre that is being originally written and produced in England today. What are some common characteristics between productions that make the jump to our side of the Atlantic? And what are we missing out on in those that don't?

Since I'm going into my last year of graduate school, now is also the time for me to begin seriously thinking about where I want to start my career in arts management: Where geographically? At what type of organization? What role would I like to play? My hope is that working abroad, challenging myself to leave my comfort zone (and my friends and family) to navigate a different culture on my own will help me learn more about the sort of work experience I'd like to pursue after graduation, and more importantly, the sort of arts manager/artist/human being I'd like to be.

So, that's what you can expect to read about here over the course of the summer. And yes, there will be fun touristy posts too. It's this American girl's first time in London. How could I not? ;-)

Have suggestions about theatre I should see, people I should connect with, or fun things I should do in the UK? Leave a comment below, tweet me with the hashtag #summerinlondon, or send me an email.

*For some great thoughts on the increasing importance of international training for arts managers as technology brings the world ever closer together, check out Joshua Midgett's post Crossing Cultures: A New Necessity? on ArtsBlog. For a more personal story of one theatrical director's decision to move abroad, have a look at Amy Clare Tasker's blog post, Moving to London.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Arts Intern-tips

See what I did there? If you'd like to learn a bit more about me, aside from my undying love of puns, before diving into content, please check out my background.

Through this blog, I hope that by sharing my thoughts on the performing arts, technology, and what these fields can learn from one another, that I can encourage discussion with colleagues and friends, brainstorm new ideas, and experiment with some of the better ones in the field.

Before I get into the tips, here's a sneak peek at some upcoming topics:
  • What the live arts can learn from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 
  • Millennials donate, but not the same way their parents do
  • Tales of an American theatre intern in London (a summer series)
  • Adventures in acappella with my group, Ladies and Tramps (social media links coming soon!)
  • Thoughts on performances I really fall in (or out) of love with #artschick
  • Occasionally nifty gadgets #techchick
  •  And fashion #chick, and feminism #chick
Without further ado, the tips!

The list below is the result of informal interviews (ie. cornering them in the hallway, or on the subway, or after class...) with fellow arts interns and arts management graduate students. I've added in a few tips of my own too, based on my first internship experience at New York Theatre Workshop.

During the internship hunt...
  • Take the time to make a list of 5 things you'd like to work on during the internship. These can be skills or experiences. Do you want to plan a gala? Solicit donations? Use social media to market a production? Be as specific as you can.
  •  Small or large organization? It depends on the work environment you're looking for, and the challenges you'd like to tackle. At a smaller organization, you might be given greater responsibility, but they might have limited resources to allow you to pursue new ideas or approaches to problems. At a larger organization, they might have the resources, but they might also have enough permanent staff to handle the most interesting work.
  • Look up the organization on GuideStar and check out their recent 990 forms. The organization's financial situation will affect your experience.
  • Cookie-cutter cover letters don't cut it! (I did warn you about the puns). Tailored cover letters are a MUST. Mention specific programs and don't be afraid to share your opinions honestly.
  • Ask questions in the interview about the organization and the specific position you're applying for. This will show the interviewer that you're really interested and will help you determine if it's the right opportunity for you. Take a look back at your list of desired skills and experiences to help you create questions. 
  • Don't automatically jump on the first internship you're offered. Take a few days to consider the experience they're offering against other options. 
While you're working...
  • Keep an open mind about what you can get out of it, you may be surprised by what you learn. Ask questions. Pitch ideas. 
  • Ask for what you want. An internship should be an equal exchange. Remember you're not getting paid! To put it another way, you're being paid only in the knowledge you gain through the experience. If you're not learning enough, speak up.
  • Request a weekly or bi-weekly check-in meeting with your supervisor. Everyone's busy, and it can be difficult to find time to follow through on the previous tip. Dedicating 20 minutes to honestly discussing your needs as in intern and theirs as your supervisor/sponsoring organization, can make the difference between a great experience and a mediocre one.
Have a tip to share? Post them in the comments below, tweet them to @artstechchick with the hashtag #interntips, or email them to me and I'll post them for you, anonymously.