During the first half of 2011, I spent a great majority of my time agonizing over my job. I was constantly complaining about the fact that I was not using my strengths where they are needed the most. I was a dime a dozen in the private finance world and the dance community needed more committed, experienced administrators like me. Luckily I ended up in the right place at the right time and I landed my dream job – Administrative Manager of Oakland Ballet Company. Not only would I be managing the professional ballet company in the city that I live in and LOVE, but I would be helping to re-establish it to its former glory as a world-class ballet company! Game on, challenge accepted. In my mind I was the only person that would be able to carry out this task.
Well, I spent the second half of 2012 in a constant state of “Oh shit.” There really is no better ego check than to leap, inflated head first, through the doors of opportunity…and then realize that you have no idea what you are doing. In my first week as Administrative Manager, the Executive Director stepped down, I applied for a huge grant, met our largest private donors and attended my first board meeting. I suddenly found myself managing an administrative assistant – a position I had just left!
In the ballet world, Sugar Plum Fairies start dancing, at least in theory, in JULY – baffling. I still had summer vacations planned while thinking about The Nutcracker. I was organizing 21 professional dancers’ contracts and rehearsal schedules, putting together marketing materials, writing press releases and making decisions on the Nutcracker marketing campaign, organizing our community outreach programs with Oakland schools and CATS, arranging community appearances, working for the first time with a theater that seats more than 90 (naturally jumping up to a 3,000 seat theater), negotiating with union members, coordinating 50 student dancers…and their mothers.
Talk about a crash course in arts administration! I am still processing all the experience I acquired in 5 short (and long) months – mostly because in the world of the arts, “down time” does not exist and today is the first day I have taken time to reflect upon my first production with Oakland Ballet Company. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to work on more. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, made even better by the fact that I work with inspiring people. Mushy, I know. If you are a Nutcracker veteran – I beg you for tips. Otherwise – more to come!