BY KIT HAIST – STAFF WRITER
The words “art” and “administration” might seem contradictory. Art is creative, thrives on spontaneous inspiration, and comes from the heart, whereas administration is logical, built around routine, and is purely cerebral.
Centre College held an Arts Administration Career Chat on Tuesday April 10th with Ian Frank ‘04, a stage director and artistic assistant at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Chicago, and Kellyann Bell ‘11, the Educational and Community Engagement Program Manager at the Nashville Symphony. A discussion with both revealed there’s less of a dichotomy between the “arts” and “administration” aspects of their careers than people would expect.
arts administration requires someone who is capable of adapting to ever-changing responsibilities. “Sometimes that means I’m running the theatre and some days that means I’m sweeping the rehearsal room because that’s what needs to be done,” Frank conveyed. As a stage director, Frank “sees the most of the other component parts of theatre,” a vantage point which requires interacting with a multitude of people.
“You’re working with very talented people trained in very specific roles,” Bell explained of the importance of an administrator in facilitating interactions between people in the arts. Bell cited her English degree from Centre as helping her “translate between people,” one of her favorite aspects of the job.
Makrina Nayfa ’20, an English and Art History double major who attended the talk, shares Bell’s viewpoint. “To succeed in an administrative role, one needs to be well spoken both in person and on paper,” Nayfa explained.
“We don’t necessarily come out single-minded, totally motivated people tailor-made for specific jobs.” Rachel A. Kent ’18, a Dramatic Arts major, said explaining how Centre prepares students for occupations in the arts and jobs that “aren’t necessarily in line with our experience, but are totally in line with our passions.”
Bell echoed Kent’s sentiments about not being “tailor-made,” explaining how she noticed when looking over cover letters people were “apologizing for experience that didn’t explicitly connect with the job they’re applying for.” Bell encourages resisting this mindset. For any career, she believes there is “nothing that is a total aside to your path.”
To get a job in the arts, Frank agrees “it’s never like do this, do this, do this, do this, do this.” Frank’s own personal journey illustrates Bell’s point. Frank only acted Centre, but after graduation he assistant directed at the Kennedy Center. “It totally changed my life,” Frank said.
While experience with the arts obviously translates to a role in administration, creativity isn’t the only defining characteristic of those in arts administration. As a writer and poet, Bell says society’s “Romantic notion of being an artist and having a cabin in the woods and being discovered somehow” is entirely untrue because it’s isolating. “I’m most fed as an artist when I’m engaged in the world around me and the community around me.”
As a member of Centre’s artistic community, Kent cited her involvement in Drama as a source of confidence for her future. “I’ve developed a really good sense of self and a pretty positive but ultimately realistic view of what I’m good at and what I’m not good at, as well as what I may or may not want to do,” Kent conveyed. “Just because my path so far doesn’t look like other peoples doesn’t mean it can’t get me to where I want to be.”
Centre’s community of artists might not have the same paths into the future as one another other, or the same path as Bell or Frank, but one commonality they will always share is a passion for their work and creative pursuits.