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.

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