During my summer internship at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, one thing I didn’t expect was the busy nature of the arts center- all summer there were classes and events going on almost every day and evening. But because of the busy nature of the organization, I didn’t get to focus much on any long term programming or season curation, which was one of my work learning goals.
I also wasn’t sure how I would feel about working at a community arts organization. But, I think this experience led me to believe that I would enjoy working in an arts center- I like the community aspect of an arts center- how they are constantly trying to appeal to a broad audience. The arts center is also able to offer many childrens’ classes for free because their broad range of activities supports one another: one week they will bring in Joan Baez for a concert in their 500 seat theater, and the next week, migrant worker’s children will be performing Billy Elliot on that same stage.
My most important learning experience at the SCA was the opportunity to learn about the external tasks surrounding a fundraising event, especially the money collection and database input. My first week at the internship, my job was to follow up with a list of people who had signed up during their annual benefit to attend a small dinner. This set a pattern for the summer, because after our golf marathon in August, I spent the rest of my time sending letters, emails and making phone calls to collect pledge money. This experience helped me realize the realm of development that literally involves collecting money, and also the social aspect of development that requires tact in collecting money.
When it comes to my academic environment, through my internship, I learned that I am ready to jump into the working world! I also learned that, like in our program, I work well on a project basis. I only worked on about three projects all summer, and I really enjoyed being able to see them through from start to finish.
My internship did not relate to my research- because my research is specifically focused on music festivals. However it was a wonderful professional development experience, where I learned that I really enjoy the development arena of arts administration, and that I love being involved in a busy organization. I did also learn a lot about cultural policy of arts in Michigan, and also the use of cultural mapping and economic prosperity studies to expand and support the arts, which will be very useful in our cultural policy class this term.
Through my internship this summer, I feel that I grew as an arts administrator, especially in my newfound field of development. I also learned that I could find myself very happy in the size and type of organization that I worked for: a small, new, busy, arts center with a very active board and supportive community. I gained invaluable skills in the area of development, including software programs, money handling, donor development, grant writing, and cultural policy. This internship challenged and excited me for my future career in arts administration.