The Life of an Arts Management Student: Emily’s Story
By Emily Santeler, UW-Whitewater student/Arts Wisconsin fall 2017 intern
My name is Emily and I am a senior music major and arts management minor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I’m thrilled to be interning for Arts Wisconsin this semester. Arts management is such a rewarding field to go into as one where you can live out your passions while being creative and sharing it with others at the same time. It’s been quite the journey as an arts management student so far, and being able to work in a field that brings people so much joy is the ultimate goal.
The arts are my greatest passion and have been for as long as I can remember, for I was introduced to the wondrous worlds of dance and music at a very young age. The first memory I have that involves the arts in some way would be when my parents took me to see The Rockettes when I was three years old. I was absolutely fascinated by the lights, costumes, music, and dancing, and from then on I was hooked.
I told my parents I wanted to be a ballerina shortly after my experience, so they placed me in ballet lessons. My dad was a musician as well, and I have him to thank for jumpstarting my love for music. There are home videos of me singing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” at the top of my lungs from around the same time, which are pretty embarrassing to say the least J. But no one has been able to keep me from singing ever since, and it was only the beginning of my “arts obsession.” Since then, I have been involved with several areas of the arts including music, theater, dance, and visual art, and each one has helped me grow immensely in distinctive ways. This includes being a part of countless musical productions, plays, choirs and instrumental ensembles, dance companies, and arts-related organizations, each and every one bringing happiness, a sense of inclusion, and memories I will never forget.
As senior year of high school was approaching, I realized that no matter what career path I decided to take I wanted the arts to be incorporated in some way. It was not a passion that I was willing to give up, for it was all I had ever known and made me who I was at that point in my life. I knew I wanted to continue to improve at my talents and eventually help others do the same. I decided to attend UW-Whitewater as a music education major with a choral emphasis.
Shortly after my first semester, I realized that teaching might not be the right path for me. I had heard about the university’s arts management program, and after doing some research, everything seemed to click. Being a teacher of the arts was not what I was meant to do, but working behind the scenes and advocating for them was. I didn’t even know this was an option, and I’m not sure a lot of students do! I decided on a whim to drop everything and go to the department office to change my major to music with a minor in arts management, which is what I will be graduating with in December of this year (and a semester early too!)
Throughout my collegiate career I have had some wonderful experiences that have prepared me for the professional world of arts administration and have helped me grow as an individual. I was elected president of Young Auditorium’s Cultural Affairs Committee my junior year, which is the only arts management student organization on campus. As a part of this position, I was also able to attend the 2016 Arts Midwest conference in Milwaukee and intern for the director of Young Auditorium for the academic year. I learned that networking is a must and do not take advantage of opportunities to do so, and also got a front row seat to see how an arts non-profit functions from the inside (and it’s pretty amazing.) I am also a house manager for the music and theater events that take place in the Greenhill Center of the Arts, which has taught me a lot about my management style. And now I have the incredible opportunity to intern for Arts Wisconsin and get the chance to work on some really exciting projects involving the creative economy of Wisconsin.
The most eye opening experience for me so far though would have to be when I studied abroad this past summer. Travelling to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, and Rome, I had the opportunity to see some of the greatest works of art ever created and see how these pieces influenced societies and compare that to how art is perceived today. It was an incredible experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! If you ever get the chance to go to a museum or see a show, no matter what it is, take it. I always seem to learn something new when I go to any sort of arts event. It can be absolutely life changing, and can help one see the world a little more clearly.
That is just one of the many things I love about the arts. It can bring people together in times of both crisis and celebration, and being able to help do that for a living is my dream. I am hoping to work for a non-profit arts organization after graduation; in the long termy I would like to get into development and/or coordinate educational programs for an organization. I love working with people and am passionate about advocating for the arts in schools and their impact on students both inside and outside of the classroom. Arts-based curriculum can be extremely beneficial for kids of all ages. These types of programs did just that for me, so I want to give back. We know it, studies show it!
I know I still have so much to learn and more experience to gain, but I am very thankful for all of my teachers, professors, supervisors, and directors who have taught me what I do know, guided me down this path, and have helped me to be able to share what I love with others. It can be difficult to decide which road to take career wise, but as long as you love what you’re doing and go fourth with passion, no one can take that away from you. I’m very excited to see what’s in store, and look forward all of the people I will meet and things I will see along the way while beginning a career in arts administration.