The Membership Department

10 Aug

Before coming to American Ballet Theatre, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous because it would my first experience with ballet, my first internship, my first time being in New York, and my first time living on my own. In spite of my concerns, I chose to come to participate in the internship anyway, which I can now say was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. This summer I had the opportunity to serve as an intern in the Membership Department. This particular department is one of the most important parts of the American Ballet Theatre’s Development Department. I started my internship in the middle of the spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. During this time, the Membership Department is usually in a frenzy day in and day out. Starting my internship in the middle of the season forced me to learn and adapt quickly. Even though the pace of the work was intense, the peaceful atmosphere of the office never allowed me to feel stressed.

The Membership Department is responsible for recruiting and retaining the members who “make ABT happen.”In order to try to recruit new members, some nights during the spring season, I worked at the Membership table, a table set up at the Metropolitan Opera House. While at this table I made it a point to interact with the audience before and after each performance and during intermissions. I engaged the audience members by passing out pamphlets, answering questions explaining how membership at ABT works, and by simply asking them about their feelings about the performance. It feels great being able to say that I helped 3 people become members while doing this! In order to help retain the pre­existing members, mailings are sent out monthly in order to remind those whose memberships are expiring to renew. Unfortunately, these mailings are usually very large and create papercuts to match. However, each member who renews their membership makes it worth it! Members receive a special set of benefits that can include personal ticketing services and invitations to private events. During the spring season, patron ticketing is hectic. Each day there are numerous calls with single ticket orders, subscription exchanges, and other ticket exchanges. This particular area of the department is very demanding and things can pile up extremely quickly. However, when it is all done and you managed to squeeze that last order in before the messenger got too irritated, you are left with an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

After the spring season is over, everything in the office seems to come to a screeching halt. The cloud of intense urgency that hangs over everyone’s heads seems to fade away and everyone is left with the most beautiful smiles and hearty laughs. Everyday there was a new reason to celebrate and we celebrated indeed. We celebrated with dance­o­clock, chocolate, the best homemade baked goods in New York, and more chocolate. Overall, my favorite part of the internship was the atmosphere in the office. Everyone works well together and genuinely tries to make sure that each employee in the office has whatever they need to make it through the day. If you’re ever in the membership office, you’ll hear the word the family a lot and after being there this summer I truly see why. While dysfunctional at best, ABT truly is one large caring family and I’m extremely grateful to say I got the chance to be a part of it.

Sydney Thomas

Membership Intern

Summer 2015

In the Lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House

In the Lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House

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