Have you ever had an amazing opportunity but you didn’t know what to expect as the results? That’s how I felt trying to understand how arts management functioned at Baltimore Clayworks and Single Carrot Theatre. I started out thinking, “how can these projects work for me,” instead of what skills do I bring to the table to assist the staff, to meet my deadlines, and to grow out of being a perfectionist.
My original placement was at Baltimore Clayworks under the leadership of Sarah McCann. For the first few weeks my project and my role was unclear. They had three projects outlined in hopes one of the projects would match my skills and interests. My passion has always been photography so I gravitated more to the photo based project.
I worked with the Marketing and Community Arts departments the most as I supplied photographs for the image catalogs which was later used by the Development department for their funder reports. I also worked on updating the visibility of merchandise made by member artist and increased sales to help the Marketing department meet their sales goals for the month of January. Between being in the office feeling lost and going offsite to document a program facilitated by their teaching artist I often questioned if I was doing things perfectly. I wasn’t getting much feedback, but ironically, I started to get a lot of requests from other departments to work on tasks.
Before my placement ended in February, it became clear my project was changing and I would be working with the Exhibition department to seek artists, curate, set up, and co-market an exhibition. I also surveyed the staff to get a better understand of how they archive materials and started to creating guidelines for their catalogs.
Two weeks before my placement at Clayworks came to an end I started at Single Carrot Theatre under the leadership of Alix Fenhagen and Genevieve De Mahy. It was hard for me to transition to a different office culture, additional hours, and a different project. However, I remember the first time I answered the phones I was amazed by how happy the person on the other end was to hear my voice. That was the moment I started to calm my fears about this placement and I soon learned to let go of being a perfectionist and just ask for feedback.
While at Single Carrot Theatre I ignored the assumptions that the staff had about what I was capable of doing or had access to. I utilized my networking skills and creative thinking in email marketing and reach outs for Promenade: Baltimore, A Short Reunion, and Undercurrent: Theatre for Now.
I’ve been tasked to do some brainstorming for community engagement events, confirm scheduled meetings, attend planning meetings, and transcribe interviews. Not only was I the community liaison, but I felt a little like the office liaison. I even made suggestions that the staff didn’t think of, shared information with various staff members, and transported crew members to appointments.
To balance desk tasks, I would take photos of things around me and the people I met when I worked off site or away from my desk. After a while my photography skills were being requested for events and/or appreciated for behind the scenes looks for marketing materials.
There was a point in my fellowship when I realized this may not be the field for me and I was ready to leave. However, I decided to stay and I’m thankful I did. During my time at Single Carrot Theatre I have had the opportunity to talk to visiting artist Keith A. Wallace from The Bitter Game, I listened to some moving stories from Baltimore residents, I got to use a lot of my transferable skills, and I know I made a difference to at least one person during a student matinee. I’m also happy that I stayed to see and hear how Promenade: Baltimore has come together now that a majority of the hard work has been done and shows are selling out.
Stevenson University, BS in Visual Communication Design