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Arts administration certificate graduates gain valuable experience

| Anna Loughridge '22

Appreciation for the arts is sometimes hard for communities to maintain in times of economic belt-tightening. This is precisely why enterprises in the fine arts are in need of well-educated and savvy managers and directors of community or institutionally based arts organizations.

Organizations in towns and cities all across the country are looking for innovative folks to help ensure the ongoing vitality of the fine arts and need someone with the skills to keep the curtain rising. Through the Arts Administration certificate program, UWEC provides the skills, knowledge, and hands-on experiences that these organizations and other employers are looking for in their next hires. Remarkably, there are nine UWEC students graduating with this distinction in spring 2020, which is (by far) the largest ever graduating class for this certificate.

Since its inception in the early 2000s, twenty-four individuals have earned their certificate in Arts Administration through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; after this semester ends, that grand total will rise to thirty-three – an increase of nearly 40%. The Arts Administration Certificate is an 18-credit program that includes IDIS 410 (Arts Management Seminar), a 3-credit internship in arts administration, and 12 credits of electives that are outside of one's major/department.

Two of the certificate graduates for spring 2020 are seniors Kaitlyn Claeys and Mary Cait McManamon. “With my Arts Administration certificate, I am gaining experience working in the business field within the subject matter I am passionate about” says Kaitlyn. “I've learned of the technicalities that go in to making art come to life and delivered to the public.” Mary took a minute to reflect on her experience in the Arts Administration program, noting “I gained a better understanding about how my business education can translate to a career in the arts as well as how arts organizations and nonprofits operate.”

A major component of the certificate is the internship requirement, which must be completed with a partnering arts organization. Mary Cait completed what some might see as an unconventional internship in her final semester by working with the Heyde Center in Chippewa Falls to set up a TikTok account for the arts organization. “This was a super fun project that let me be creative while learning about using social media to market an arts center,” she described. She enjoyed also being able to see behind the scenes of the Heyde Center to catch a glimpse of how they run their events and programs.  

Kaitlyn’s internship experience was working as the Executive Director's Assistant at Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. “It was my responsibility to assist the Executive Director in finance, event planning, business writing, and coordinating. My internship for Eau Claire Jazz was informative and strengthened my event planning skills. It was eye-opening in the fact that I learned all of the details relating to budget, coordinating, and expectations of the events hosted.”

Post-graduation, Kaitlyn plans on moving out of state to follow her passion for arts in media through either working on the business side of voiceover works or to pursue freelance work regarding multimedia subjects.

For Mary Cait, she is currently looking for full-time jobs, but has already started a business of her own this past February.  Her business idea was one of six chosen to be projects in the VentureHome-Eau Claire accelerator program which started this spring and will continue into the fall. VentureHome-Eau Claire is a pilot program developed through a partnership between WiSys, UW-Eau Claire, and CoLab, which aims to provide everything a startup business needs “under one roof,” including workspace, funding, legal advice, technology, and more. Through being accepted into the Seed Accelerator program, Mary Cait’s business, Spark Convos LLC, receives mentorship, access to resources, and eligibility for seed funding, amongst other benefits. 

Kaitlyn leaves us with amazing advice on the endless opportunities offered at UWEC, just like the Arts Administration certificate. 

“Try out any of the organizations on campus. For even more fun, do something that's not related to your major! The benefits of doing that are to extend your knowledge of what you find enjoyable in addition to meeting people who aren't necessarily like you.”