High-impact experiences for students in arts management can be hard to come by, but not for students in UW-Eau Claire’s Arts Administration certificate program. Two students in the program completed extensive internships this fall with arts organizations located right here in the Chippewa Valley.
Semisi Faleta, a recent graduate and theatre arts major, served as the Special Project Marketing Coordinator for the Heyde Center for the Arts. His main project was producing a comedy podcast series, Ghosted, to promote the Ghosts in the Attic event at the Center in October. Faleta led a team of two others: his co-host Ada Packiewicz and technical engineer/editor Evan Peterson as they explored creepy stories that happened in our own backyard.
Twelve stories from Minnesota and Wisconsin are covered in the series’ six episodes. “In my initial research and in setting up this marketing project, the main aim was to attract younger patrons between 18-27 to the Center, which we accomplished in the end as we had over 1,000 views every episode of which over 40% was our target market,” Faleta says. Ghosted went on to receive widespread local media attention, including being nominated for Best Local Podcast in Volume One’s Best Of contest, inspiring the Heyde Center to continue investing in podcast series in the future.
“Both Ada and I love true crime podcasts like My Favorite Murder and And That’s Why We Drink and so we have been joking for a while how much fun it would be to do a podcast called Ghosted. Really it just began as kind of an inside joke,” Faleta says. “Then in summer last year I began talking with Debra Johnson, the Executive Director of the Heyde Center, about possible internship projects and the idea of a special podcast for the Halloween season came up and stuck with her. I threw out the name Ghosted and she loved it.”
Faleta learned a lot about how creativity functions within administrative work. “This project I think more than anything really shows how arts administration and business is not a pencil-pushing, office space sort of field. We are not just the cogs that make the arts possible, we are artists in our own right,” he says. “This project was created for a very specific business function: to market and promote the Ghosts in the Attic event. But through the process, my team and I realized that we weren’t just making a glorified ad, we were creating something unique that worked hand in hand with the art it was promoting to create a morbidly wonderful piece of new work. In short, arts administration is not the production of art, it is the creative basin in which to cultivate it.”
Another recent graduate, William Bowe, also had an in-depth internship project this fall. The integrated strategic communications major worked with Shell Lake Arts Center as an alumni history intern. His main objective was to enter information from past participants who had attended the arts center into its database. He also got to incorporate his background in public relations by interviewing alumni, creating a Spotify playlist, and pitching a future event for the center.
Learning how vital customer relationship databases are to arts organizations was impactful to Bowe. “There is a big network of people around the arts organization, with a vast amount of alumni and donors. They all have to be kept track of somehow!” he says. “The main thing I learned is to not be afraid to chat about your ideas, especially if it’s an internship. Whoever oversees your work loves hearing new ideas, and creativity is looked at as such a positive in the arts administration world.”
Overall, Bowe affirms that his internship was a great learning opportunity. “I think my time working with SLAC taught me a lot about the structure of arts organizations; how each member impacts the entire picture. Knowing this, and learning what the director and coordinator positions entail, really made me understand what I will be working with in the future,” he says. “Shell Lake Arts Center gave me a great opportunity, and I couldn't recommend it enough to any student looking for an internship. The whole team at SLAC is extremely welcoming, and they really care about what they do. Every internship through the arts administration certificate is very valuable. Reading some of my peers’ discussion posts [on Canvas] and seeing what they were working on made me realize I wasn't the only one having a great experience. Have fun, be creative, give it your all, and enjoy the whole experience!”
It’s clear that these experiences enhanced the interns’ knowledge of the arts industry. “Often in business and the arts we rely on what is tried and true, we are reluctant to expand past the known in fear of losing something,” Faleta says. “But what this experience taught me is that as time persists, the situation shifts, the technology evolves, we too need to move with it.”
To learn more about the arts administration certificate, visit https://www.uwec.edu/academics/college-arts-sciences/departments-programs/music-theatre-arts/academic-offerings/certificates/arts-administration-certificate/