It’s that time of year again. The leaves in Madison are finally starting to change, flower shops are delivering bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils, and communities all over the country come together for “homecomings” of some form or other. I’m building my new life here in Madison and acquiring the required Badger apparel to blend in with the sea of red on game day. Over the past few years, I’ve realized the significance of a different T-shirt purchase on my path to a career in Arts Administration….
I’ve never considered myself an artist. I love music, but missed the boat in elementary and middle school of enrolling in choir or band. I was homeschooled in the seventh grade, and when I returned to public school, I found myself embroiled in the social intricacies of high school marching band – as what my mother liked to call a “Band Aid.” I went to every football game for the halftime show. I was the only non-parent in the stands at marching band competitions. And? I paid $20 (three hours of working my minimum wage after school job) for a marching band T-shirt to sneak in with them practically anywhere they went. All for the love of the band and the people in it.
At the time, I didn’t think anything of this. I took pride in my identity. “Who’s nerdier than the marching band? Amber. She just hangs out with them. She doesn’t even play an instrument.” When I wasn’t waiting in the parking lot for my friends to get out of marching band practice, I was studying servant leadership and organizing communities to serve through Key Club International. In undergrad, I abandoned my math major and leveraged my accumulated talents into the beginning of a life in the theater. My life has lead me back to where I started: in the wings.
In the opportunities I’ve had to mentor, one of the main lessons I stand by is: the coolest careers are the ones you didn’t know existed when you were a kid. As we continue in our paths of growth, it’s important to stay open to all the possibilities that come your way. (It’s called Happenstance Theory. Don’t ask my dad about it – he’ll give you a free book.) As a stage manager, an agent’s assistant, and then I suppose an independent producer, I’ve been in these unique and lovely positions of supporting and nurturing the careers of artists. The opportunity to provide opportunity.
There is an art to what we do in Arts Administration. Any endeavor done with passion is an act of artistry. It’s been a journey to get here, but I’m excited to say: “I’m an ARTIST!” And so are you. That’s why I’m here at the Bolz Center. I’ve never been so holistically engaged and wholly exhausted. It’s so good to be home.