2005 PFIG Recipient Becca Walton
College of Arts & Sciences
History and American Studies
2006 Graduation Year
Internship: Charleston Symphony Orchestra
Notes on the first week
I’ve just finished my first week as an intern with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. I’ve returned for a second summer on staff of the CSO and I’m so excited to see everyone I worked with last summer—staff, musicians, and the conductor. It’s like I never left and it’s been great to hit the ground running. My primary role as Marketing and Development Assistant is to help prepare promotional materials such as press releases and brochures. This summer I will also be involved in development, researching and writing grants as well as writing gift acknowledgement letters. Beyond this, as anyone familiar with non-profit arts organizations knows, I am called on to do just about everything else—from helping our stage manager load timpani to duct-taping down music stands at a breezy concert on Charleston Harbor to helping our music librarian sort music.
In the coming weeks we’ll be focused on a fund-raising push to the fiscal year-end on June 30th and the orchestra’s many performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (kicked off Friday night by a CSO concert at the Custom House). Our regular season ended in early May, but the orchestra has concerts at Charles Towne Landing, on Kiawah Island, and in Cashiers, NC. I’m most excited about a concert that will be held on the new enormous Cooper River Bridge opening in July.
I can’t believe my time with the CSO will end in less than 3 weeks. Though I look forward to heading home to Tennessee and then back to UVa, I will miss Charleston tremendously. My internships this summer and last not only afforded me great experience in arts management, but also allowed me to live in a place I’ve come to love a great deal. I will certainly explore jobs in Charleston.
Since my last blog entry, a million things have happened. We had an amazing concert atop the new bridge spanning the Cooper River. It was awesome to be a part of such an important milestone in the history of the city. We all enjoyed watching couples dance to "The Charleston" and seeing a beautiful sunset through the towering spans.
In June I attended the American Symphony Orchestra League’s National Conference in D.C. The focus of this year’s conference was arts advocacy in education, a topic particularly close to my heart as I recall the yearly battle waged by our band directors, parents, and students to keep music in my own school district in TN. My favorite part of the conference was attending concerts at the Kennedy Center and the new Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, Maryland. After a day of discussing the struggles of arts management, hearing the National Symphony made it all worth it. I’m sure it was also a very relaxing experience for all the orchestra staffs there in the audience—we’re used to the frantic behind-the-scenes activity on the night of concerts!
It’s hard to believe that another summer in Charleston has ended. My final days with the CSO were, as always, action-packed. Though I’ve always been aware of the immense work-load placed on staff members of non-profits arts organizations, I’m continually amazed at the non-stop pace of the CSO office even in the summer, which one would expect to be a time of planning for the upcoming season. Down-times don’t exist, and it is always exciting. After my experiences in the arts, I can’t imagine a 9 to 5 job.
One of my final projects with the orchestra was to help prepare the 80+ page program book, which involved many rounds of editing, and continual calls to guest artists, conductors, and venue managers to confirm details and gather headshots and programming. I’ve gotten to work with some awesome graphic designers and printers in preparing the orchestra’s promotional materials. I look forward to seeing my copy-writing in print when I go to a concert this fall.
Another project was the preparation of the Annual Report, a piece distributed to donors upon the completion of the fiscal year. Last year was the first year the CSO created an Annual Report, so we chose to keep the design consistent. I prepared copy outlining highlights of the 2004-2005 Season, worked with our Marketing Director to choose photos from the season, and wrote the copy for a page focusing on featured concerts and events of the 2005-2006 Season. I represented the CSO at a grant-writing workshop run by the City of Charleston in which guidelines for the Annual Accomodations Tax Grants were explained.
A few weeks ago, a renowned improv comedy group which had just renovated a new theatre discovered that they would have to go before City Council to request an exception to provide the city-required number of parking spaces to be able to open their Theatre. If not granted, their group would have been forced to fold. I went to the packed City Council meeting after work with our Operations and Personnel Director. It was so exciting to see so many young representatives of the arts community in Charleston there supporting the improv group. Charleston is well-known for the 17-day international Spoleto Festival USA, but the local arts community is itself exceptional, providing world-class theatre, dance, and music to the Charleston area year round.
My experience in Charleston was incredible, and I am so glad I got to return to the Lowcountry to continue work with the CSO. I met such amazing people and enjoyed making a contribution in some small way to an outstanding orchestra in a beautiful city.