Go To All the Events!!!

26 Dec

Coming into my internship with the Major Gifts department at ABT, I had only a vague idea of what words like “Major Gifts” or “Development” meant. I was the tiniest bit afraid it would turn out to be dry or not at all what I expected. But over this past semester, my experience with ABT proved how interesting and creative a career arts administration can be. It’s so inspiring to work with people who care deeply about ABT’s mission and the performing arts as a whole, and to see all of the behind-the-scenes work give life to the projects on stage.

While the events and performances were definitely highlights of my time at ABT, I can’t overlook the experience I had day-to-day at 890 Broadway. In the Major Gifts office, Fallon Sullivan was so ready to help me learn (about development, the industry, our finicky printers, etc.) and contribute to the staff’s work. I was happy to see how the work I was doing was immediately used by Major Gifts to reach out to donors, organize events, or create reports. There were also of plenty of little hands-on projects that came up now and then – designing invitations, putting together an information binder for the board, asking a dancer for their signature for a donor gift, etc. I never felt like I was stuck doing “busywork,” and if it was ever tedious, the people I was surrounded by always brightened things up!

Aside from regular office duties, my favorite parts of the internship were the occasional pop-up events. Just before the opening of the Fall season, donors sometimes came into 890 Broadway to sit in on a rehearsal or dance class. I loved putting faces to the names I’d been working with and hearing a bit about their lives. It was also inspiring to see the dancers work tirelessly to perfect their performance. Another day, Burberry NYC was hosting a special fundraiser for major donors and members in their midtown location. I tagged along with another intern, taking in the incredible runway collection, the dancers, and donors who shopped the event. And at an early morning intern meeting, Kara Medoff Barnett (ABT’s new Executive Director) came to talk informally with us about her professional and personal experience leading up to her new job at ABT. After each of these little surprises, I looked at ABT with a new appreciation – the office and the art and all of the staff are constantly blending into each other, each of them striving to put forth the best work possible.

As a note of advice for future interns, I would recommend that you go to ALL the events possible. They’re so fun, and that is where you get to soak in what the heart of ABT is about and to make a connection with the staff and the other interns. Ask as many questions as possible, and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone! Everyone I encountered in my time at ABT was so open and willing to help out. I can’t thank them enough for the incredible experience I had this semester. I look forward to putting everything I’ve learned into practice!

Rebecca Souza

Major Gifts Intern

Fall 2016

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