I am interning at the the Weill Music Institute (WMI) of Carnegie Hall, but I have mainly been working with the Social Impact Programs (SIP) team. I have been very lucky throughout my internship because there have been many opportunities to engage with each member of the SIP team. During my time in WMI, I have been working on a project that is a report on how to build a strong community for the artists contracted out by SIP. In creating that report, I spoke with every person on the SIP team, asking them a list of questions that I created in part with my supervisor Ann Gregg—Director of SIP. In each of my conversations, I had the opportunity to understand each person’s role within SIP and often heard about how they came into their job in the Weill Music Institute. Not only did I speak with staff members within SIP, but I also spoke with a few artists that SIP contracts throughout the year and staff from the venues where SIP programming happens like a hospital in the Bronx and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). After the twelve interviews, I felt like I had a clearer picture of how the community of programs in SIP functions within the broader scope of WMI. It was also just exciting in general to hear about how each member contributes to the whole of the department. After I presented the report, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf—a consultant at WolfBrown who has researched and worked on many programs throughout WMI. We spoke about how I could make the report stronger and relevant to people outside of Carnegie Hall so that I could use this document as the start of a portfolio of my work.
In addition to working individually with everyone on the SIP team, I have had other opportunities to meet people from other departments in Carnegie Hall. The Director of Operations set up meetings with many of the directors of WMI. In each of those meetings, I had a chance to hear about each director’s path and had time to chat with them. I have also had the chance to sit in on many meetings with different departments within Carnegie Hall and outside organizations that Social Impact Programs is currently working with. One of these meetings was at Lincoln Center to see a partnership between Lincoln Center Education/New York City Department of Education’s Middle School Arts Auditions Boot Camp. This was primarily a planning meeting to talk about their upcoming program that prepares middle schoolers for high school auditions at arts schools. WMI helps out with the vocal program in the camp because it has a similar structure to one of their programs, Count Me In. It was interesting to witness an exchange amongst a few of New York City’s leaders in arts education.
Another way that I have been able to meet people within Carnegie Hall has been through the HR department. One of the HR staff members set up informational meetings with people in different departments around Carnegie Hall. These meetings included informational sessions with someone in the development department, marketing department, a tour from the Archivist of Carnegie Hall, and a meeting with the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. Going into this summer, I could hardly fathom the amount of work and detail that goes into creating even one event at Carnegie Hall. While I still cannot entirely imagine the countless hours of effort that goes into making a season happen, it was inspiring for me to hear each person speak about their role in maintaining the legacy of artistry and community that Carnegie Hall has worked towards for over 100 years.
Lastly, I also had the chance to meet many participants of WMI’s programs throughout my time here. I went to SUNY Purchase College to see NYO/NYO2 practice during their residency, I sat in on some sessions in the Summer Music Educators Workshop, I helped out with the NeON Arts Spring Showcase where participants shared the artistic work that they had been working on in the spring session, I met a few men who had recently been incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility where WMI has a program that gives the men there a musical outlet through education and performance experiences, and I went to Studio 57 to see young people who are part of Future Music Project perform songs that they had been working on in workshops. While most of these experiences were mostly through observation, I was often actively speaking with participants and in some cases working side-by-side with them. The SIP team makes it look easy to make sure that everyone feels valued whether they are Carnegie Hall staff, artists, staff working at the venues where programs take place, or participants. From speaking to each of them, I know that though it may look easy, it is a very difficult task to achieve that level of care and consideration. From my experience, it seems so easy to get side-tracked in the administrative world around me and think about the people who the programs are benefiting as just a single piece in the larger puzzle of “programming”. This summer has shown me that participants are the program. Without understanding the needs of the people you are serving, your program has no meaning and is essentially useless. If there is rarely any interaction between administrative staff and the participants, something that may seem simple to an outsider, like providing accessible transportation or a meal, can make the biggest difference in the amount of people who can benefit from the program. I have met many different people this summer, from all walks of life, and for the first time I feel prepared and empowered to learn how to try to engage each one of them individually and within their community. I couldn’t have imagined to have a better group of mentors than the SIP team, but they have shown me that the most valuable way that you can truly engage anyone is through empathy, passion, and understanding. This kind of thinking has redefined my conception of what an arts administrator should be in the world.