With free time on her hands during the pandemic lockdown, Emily Garven strove for self-improvement by enrolling in an arts administration postgraduate course.
Before you decided to delve into arts administration, what career path in the arts were you following?
Providing performing arts opportunities to underserved members of the community is a personal mission of mine. I have always wanted to use the arts as a resource to help people in need. I started a performing arts organization, Inspiration Performing Arts Company, in 2009 that now puts an emphasis on giving theater opportunities to children and young adults with special needs. Along with running that organization, I took a year after graduating college to run the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as their executive director.
How did you discover degrees in arts administration?
As a new executive director of a theater that was unexpectedly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself completely overwhelmed and feeling unequipped for the challenges ahead of us. With a little extra time on my hands during quarantine and a thirst for bettering my abilities, I googled “performing arts management master’s degree.” I found a few schools offering programs in my field of interest. After viewing the curriculums for each of the programs, I found that the Boston University Arts Administration program aligned with my learning needs the most, combining coursework in fundraising, marketing, management, and consulting.
Why did you choose to pursue your specific degree program?
I know that arts management, specifically in the nonprofit sector, is a career path that I find both fulfilling and challenging. As someone who encompasses a growth mindset and values lifelong learning, I know that I always have room for improvement. The arts are always changing and adapting, and leaders in the field need to be open to constant learning. I decided to pursue my master’s degree in arts administration at BU so that I can be the best leader I can be for my community and the organizations I serve.
What advice do you have for other professionals who are considering arts administration?
Even if you have had a ton of experience in the arts, there is always something you can learn from your peers and professionals in the industry. Pursing a degree in arts administration is so much more than the coursework and credit hours; it is an opportunity to network, gain new perspectives, and learn a little bit more about yourself in the process. If you are on the fence, definitely reach out to schools of interest and ask if you can sit in on a class, view a syllabus, or talk to current students to gauge if the major or program is right for you!