A - I enjoy the satisfaction in knowing that creatively and administratively I can accomplish a desired task. Setting out to do something and being able to achieve it is very rewarding, particularly when it is related to the arts. I've been in the arts for close to twenty years. I'm not sure why I chose the arts and not medicine or something else, but I think that I personally just enjoy entertaining people, if you will, in the broadest sense of the word. I think everyone should have a source of entertainment in their lives. Maybe that is why I'm in this business and why I try to get more people involved with it. There is a fair amount of satisfaction in doing this.
I like a lot of things. First of all, it's very challenging. There is never one day that is the same as the next. Something different happens every day, and there is always more to learn, new people to meet, and new approaches to discover. I get satisfaction from watching the ballet, standing in the back and thinking that I had some small part in the enjoyment that the audience is getting from the performance. After all, I am somewhat responsible for the audience being there. I get a lot of people who come up and say, "Thank you so much! I enjoyed it. I'm so glad you told me about it." There's a great deal of satisfaction in having people enjoy something that you are a part of and in thinking that it adds a new dimension to their lives. I think my greatest satisfaction is when people say, "I am so glad I didn't miss that, it really meant a lot to me." I feel very much a part of what happens on the stage, because we are a very small group and we all work together. It's very much a team effort.
Meeting celebrities is also a very enjoyable part of my job. I get to meet a lot of people in the community who are very highly regarded in their fields, I solicit advice from them, and I talk to them on a professional level. I gain a lot of knowledge in talking with these people, and I enjoy that very much. I could not stand to have a nine-to-five job. I like constant motion, constant growing and meeting and changing, and constant running. When I have to get in my car and drive all over town to drop things off or pick things up and chauffeur people around, that is ideal.
Q - What do you dislike about your job?
A - At times I dislike some of the things I like to do most-having to do a lot of different things and having to report to a lot of people. When things are clicking, it's wonderful. When they aren't, I just feel like I am accomplishing nothing. The stress catches up with me when things aren't working out well, when the projects aren't working out, when they are running way behind, or when a campaign is not selling like it should. These are a part of the excitement, part of the pressure, part of the enjoyment. I take chances trying to do different things.
The overriding problem of working with a nonprofit organization, arts or otherwise, is the constant budget constraints. In other words, I may have visions of what could be done, but the problem is the cost. It's a struggle. So, I find myself "nickel and diming" it. It's frustrating that I could be doing more and have more freedom to explore other possibilities if I had more funding.
When a job is coming up, the network is small enough that you already know one another. At least you can call the boss or you can get a recommendation from someone who is highly regarded and whose opinion will count a lot in your favor. But I would say that when you are first starting out, and you're having difficulty getting exactly what you want, look around at the options. Do they need somebody in subscriptions? Maybe you can do subscriptions for a year, get a handle on what sells and what doesn't, and listen to what is going on. I would say that if you are willing to spend a year like that, then you are well on your way. You've acquired your "Ph.D." that way.
Do an internship in an arts organization. Know how it operates. Be open to the organization. Be open to what has happened, the history, the problems, the purpose, and the five-year plan of the organization. Be open to what they have to teach you. Work hard. Don't expect a lot of money, and be willing to spend more than forty hours on the job, whether you are at home thinking about it all night long or whether you are at the office working on it all night long. Be willing to start at the bottom.
I think one of the essential things in the arts is to be flexible, to have a wide variety of interests, to be well read, and to be a well-rounded person. For instance, the arts are not immune to politics, and the arts are not immune to business. Everything in the "real" world intertwines, and you should be farsighted enough to realize that. You have to keep your mind as well as your ears and eyes open concerning what is going on in the world around you and how it affects your particular field. Some people tend to have a very narrow focus. They have tunnel vision. They can only see a very small perspective of the entire picture, and those people do not tend to be flexible enough when they get out into the "real" world.