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A Foundation in Foundations

15 Feb

As a dancer and arts administration student, I have dreamed about interning at American Ballet Theatre since I moved to New York. So after living in New York for a year, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to join the development department this fall! With my experience in development mostly in individual giving, I wanted to branch out a bit to learn more about foundations through institutional giving. 

As the institutional support intern, I learned so much about the foundations that already support ABT’s mission. There are so many foundations in New York and the U.S. who believe in the power of the arts, which is very encouraging to find. While assisting with grant applications, I learned more about the wonderful work that ABT does every day – from the beautiful performances onstage at Lincoln Center, to the workshops that dancers lead with students in schools or in parks over the summer. While compiling information for grant applications, I got to read outstanding reviews of the work that ABT would perform that fall and on its upcoming tour, which made me even more excited to see the performances! It was enlightening to read about ABT’s initiatives and share them proudly with the foundations we are asking for support from. The hard work ABT does to bring ballet to New York and beyond makes it easy to write about why foundations should support it.  

When I was not researching and writing components of grants, I loved helping out at the membership table and the fall gala! At the membership table, so many donors and guests were excited to talk to me about the performance on stage or the many years they have been attending ABT performances. I love connecting with people about dance, so I appreciated the opportunity to both be able to write about dance as well as speak about it with attendees of the performances! I deeply valued the writing and research experience I gained as the institutional support intern this fall, as well as all of the beautiful ballet I got to see.  

Nadine Hemming

Institutional Support Intern (Development)

Fall 2022

Institutional Support Spring 2022

7 Jun

When I saw that America’s National Ballet Company had posted internship opportunities, it felt a little too good to be true. As an Art History and Spanish major, the Institutional Support Intern position seemed to be the invigorating kind of community based arts programming that was coherent with my trajectory in arts development. Also as a ballet nerd and occasional lesson-taker, I knew I wanted to do work that was important and inspiring to me. This internship became exactly that and more.

The structure of the ABT internship program is incredibly welcoming and efficient. After a smooth onboarding process where I met all of the interns and had any questions answered, we naturally fell into our weekly routines. The Institutional Support Internship position comprises a variety of tasks, from acknowledgement letters to grant applications, budget Excels to ticketing calendars. While the remote aspect, to me, is certainly less than ideal, I never felt unsupported or disengaged. ABT is steadfast in its valuation of the arts and a true passion for the artists and the art form is at the crux of every task.

A favorite memory from this past semester would be the opportunity I had to participate in venue tours with donors. I shadowed a backstage and event space tour of both the Koch Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera House, some of the most beautiful spaces in the city respectively. It was incredible how these iconic spaces were opened to us on a random sunny Tuesday and I thoroughly enjoyed getting a behind the scenes glance. I cannot recommend this experience enough to anyone who feels drawn to the world of nonprofits, arts and culture, and/or development. The environment at ABT is one that fosters professional and personal development, and I am incredibly grateful for my time spent with the Ballet!

Evalyn Bair

Institutional Support Intern

Spring 2022

An Invigorating Semester with ABT Institutional Support

15 Feb

I happened upon the posting for internships on ABT’s website on a whim, while searching up dance companies in an effort to find more arts administration internships that were aligned with my specific personal interests. As an undergraduate English major, so many of the suggestions for places to intern tended to fall toward visual or literary arts, so no one I had talked to had really thought of ABT as a potential place to get experience. Thankfully, last spring, I happened to find ABT’s internship information page, and the opportunity quickly climbed to the top of my list of potential places to intern. 

As the institutional support intern, the day-to-day work involved bouncing between corporate, government, and foundation fundraising initiatives and projects, allowing me to get a fuller picture of the different aspects of this work. I really enjoyed getting to be a part of the Development department during the beginning of ABT’s transition back to offering live performances and more in-person events.  

On a small scale, getting to familiarize myself more with Raiser’s Edge was an exciting experience! A lot of the work as an intern involved organizing lots of information for various institutional support tracking systems as well as putting together proposals and acknowledgements. Getting to really dive into the various systems for grants and corporate sponsorships allowed me to feel like my work was truly helpful. I enjoyed learning more about how to communicate back and forth with the different people involved in the process of submitting a proposal when working at a larger organization such as ABT.  

While most of my work was related specifically to institutional support, the weekly Development team meetings offered a great opportunity to learn more about how the different sectors of Development work together. Especially during the Fall Season and then again toward the end of the year, it was exciting to hear about the big events or initiatives that other people in Development were working toward. I also just appreciated the opportunity to hear from so many different voices and learn about the ways each communication style interacted with a work meeting environment—particularly over Zoom. 

Of course, the picture of my Fall 2021 internship with ABT would not be complete without a more in-depth mention of the Fall Season. I was lucky enough to get to help out with the Fall Gala, an event I’d been hearing updates about in Development meetings or conversations about corporate partnerships since the start of my internship. The night of the gala felt like such a celebration and surreal experience. The energy within the theater and on the red carpet was electric, and it was clear how excited everyone was to return to the realm of live performance and large-scale events at last! Just getting to witness how such a professional and fancy event was put together and observe it was incredible! I loved getting to be able to watch the performance that night and throughout the rest of the season. I remember leaving the Koch theater after each performance so excited about the whole experience and with a renewed sense of energy about the purpose of the work I was doing as an intern.  

The energy of the Fall Season stayed with me for the rest of the semester. I loved getting to meet the other interns and mingle a bit. The celebratory atmosphere made the whole experience click into place and suddenly the mission of ABT feel incredibly real and palpable. I returned to my investigations of government grant portals and research on corporate funding opportunities with more joy and intensity than before. All in all, this internship flew by, and I loved getting to be a part of ABT’s Development department at this pivotal and transitional moment in time.  

Shan Rao

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2021

ABT Live!

4 Aug

Working for a company like American Ballet Theatre in New York City has always been a dream but one that did not seem achievable as I completed my master’s degree five hours away in Washington, DC. However, the transition of the internship program to a virtual format has allowed me to participate in the program from wherever I might be. This pandemic necessity has provided valuable access to interns from all over the country to have the experience of working at one of the top dance companies in the country. 

A typical day in my remote internship in Institutional Support involves writing acknowledgement letters to thank funders, piecing together the narrative portions of future grant applications, or researching perspective foundations, all from the comfort of my bedroom office. In addition to these “normal” days, I have had the opportunity to see some of the dance in person this summer that I have been raving about to funders in my writing. In June, I took the train up to NYC for a night to participate in the Development and Marketing departments visit to Wave Hill Gardens to see ABT company dancers film the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet. This spectacular venue paired with exquisite dancing and the opportunity to meet so many of ABT’s staff and interns made for an amazing evening. I felt so welcomed by the staff and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of how ABT has been putting together its top-quality digital presentations over the last year and a half. 

I also think fondly of seeing the final version of the balcony pas de deux during ABT’s virtual Summer Celebration. The artistry and beautiful locations of all the work premiered during the event was incredibly impressive, as was hearing such high-profile names such as First Lady Jill Biden talk about the good work that ABT does. 

My final encounter getting up and close with the art from was during the ABT Across America Tour. The second to last stop of the tour was in Middleburg, VA, just an hour away from DC. A couple of friends and I made the drive through the wine country of northern Virginia to the performance location. As we entered the intimate space we were upgraded from general admission to the reserved section in the front and given free glasses of prosecco by enthusiastic volunteers. Watching ballet live and in person again for the first time in almost two years only a couple of rows back from the stage was an experience I will never forget and reminded me why I love dance so much. After the show, I met ABT’s Executive Director, Kara Medoff Barnettwho was so gracious, kind, and genuinely thankful for the work I was doing as an intern. 

As I come to the end of my time with ABT, I will look back fondly on the kind and welcoming team, the meaningful contribution I was able to make with my writing, and the memories of some amazing dancing. The chance to encounter ABT’s art in person this summer confirmed to me why I want to work in arts administration: to make the spectacular arts events that I enjoy so much a reality. 

Erin Wynne

Institutional Support Intern 

Summer 2021

You Can Write Grants From Anywhere- A Virtual Internship at ABT

28 Jul

I applied for the ABT summer internship on a whim in February 2020, not knowing that COVID-19 would cause a mass shutdown canceling ABT’s Met Season, closing 890, and making internships virtual. In the Spring I was not only auditioning, but I was also looking for jobs that were more behind the scenes of performing arts for the first time. Armed with my Journalism degree and experience writing grants and press for very small ballet companies, I applied for any job or internship I could find in the city.

That being said, I was very surprised when the Institutional Support department at ABT called me in for an interview. I was even more surprised when I received the email saying I got the Institutional Support internship. Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of COVID and when ABT can return to 890, the summer internship was entirely virtual. Am I disappointed that I could not work at 890 and see the backstage of the Met Opera House during my internship? Of course! However, I wanted to work with and learn from the development department at ABT no matter what format.

Prior to starting my internship, I was told that the best time to learn how to fundraise is during a crisis. Because after that, fundraising feels easy. I started my ABT internship with that exact mentality.

I hit the ground running when I started my internship. During the first week, I drafted a grant application, created a grant interim report, and wrote an acknowledgment letter. I was amazed that Ebonie Pittman, Associate Director of Institutional Support, and Nicholas Denninger, Institutional Support Associate, trusted me with that much responsibility right off the bat. I cannot thank Ebonie and Nick enough for spending time to teach me more about the grant writing process, and how to create a compelling grant narrative.

With the nature of writing grants, I had the chance to interact with many departments at ABT. I worked with everyone in development to create ABT’s SMU’s DataArts profile, which is required for NYC Department of Cultural Affairs grant applications. I interacted with the education department to create grants and grant reports to support ABT at School, ABT’s residency program in NYC public schools. I am in awe of Richard Toda, Dennis Walters, and everyone in Education with how they are bringing ballet to students across the city.

By the end of my internship, I’ve completed two grant applications, two interim reports, many acknowledgement letters, the development part of DataArts, and learned how to utilize Raiser’s Edge and Raiser’s Edge NXT.

Jon Haddorff, Associate Director of Major Gifts best described the internship program. “ABT is like a teaching hospital. Like the interns in residency, we give our interns hands on experience.” This internship has solidified my new career goals of working in a development department in a performing arts organization, ideally a ballet company. Thank you ABT for giving me this opportunity to start my new career path.

Jessica Frazier

Institutional Support Intern

Summer 2020

Spring at ABT

22 May

I came from Chicago to New York City specifically to work with ABT in the spring semester. I go to school at home so while I was nervous to leave, I was more than excited to be an intern at a company I had admired since the earliest days of my dance endeavors. I had trained with ABT in the summer several years ago before I quit ballet to attend college, and I was so excited to return in a position I had really grown to love and to experience the company from a different lens. After several weeks of re-learning the ropes of another city, I had really gotten the hang of navigating my commute and felt a lot more comfortable in the office. Just as I started to transition into genuinely feeling like part of the office as well as understanding the general steps needed in writing grant applications, there was talk of COVID cases rising in the state. At first everyone was calm, with the standard “it’s just like the flu” statement that everyone in the country was experiencing, but after about a week of a consistent rise in concern about the safety of everyone’s health slowly consuming the hope that things won’t get as bad as they say, I found myself booking an emergency flight back home in fear of the city shutting down and being stuck without my family. I, along with most of the staff, assumed we would all be returning in a couple weeks at the most, but after each day it became more and more unlikely that would happen. So, we made the best of it! While the majority of my internship was remote, I still gained so much experience and learned so much about the non-profit arts world. One of my most special memories was watching the Virtual Gala, as it really made me feel so special to be part of such an amazing company, even though my time with them was cut short. It made me cherish the little time I spent even more.

Kayla Taylor

Institutional Support Intern

Spring 2020


A Time of Growth

11 Nov

When I began my Institutional Support internship at American Ballet Theatre, I had no idea what to expect. I had at first been unsure whether this internship was right for me, having little experience in development or ballet, but accepted based on my interest in the company and how much I liked my interviewer, Ebonie, the Associate Director of Institutional Support and Special Campaigns. More than halfway through the internship, I can now say that accepting the position was one of the best choices I have ever made.

From the moment I started at ABT, I felt like part of the development team. On my second day, Ebonie asked me to begin working on three grant proposals, including one for $250,000. I was shocked that she had entrusted me with such a significant task. It has been so refreshing to receive actual responsibility as an intern, since I know this is not always the case. My internship at ABT has allowed me to connect with people across the organization and extended my learning beyond just institutional support. I worked special events, spoken one-on-one with a Marketing Manager, and learn from ABT staff and board members at our weekly intern meetings.

I have learned so much from my participation in this internship, from how to write grants and acknowledgement letters, to how to do prospect research, and the importance of always being prepared to take advantage of networking opportunities, especially in the development field. I attended an ABT at School performance, expecting the event to be casual given that it was being held at a school. Consequently, I wore jeans and a jean jacket (also known as a Canadian tuxedo). I was surprised to see that the ABT staff in attendance were dressed in business clothing. After the performance, my supervisor introduced me to a number of people involved with the outreach program and I was invited to lunch. Partially mortified by my clothing choice and disappointed that I had made plans for after the event, I turned down the offer. This was a significant teaching moment, as I learned the importance of maintaining professionalism and leaving time for unexpected networking on any occasion. I am grateful I experienced this as an intern, as this lesson will be exceptionally useful as I begin my professional career.

Overall, my experience at ABT has been wonderful. I look forward to going into work twice a week, knowing that I will always learn something new and make meaningful contributions to my department. I am incredibly thankful to Ebonie, the development department, and everyone involved in the internship program for giving me such a wonderful experience. ABT has turned this theatre kid into a ballet fan, and I guarantee I will be attending a lot more ballet from here on in.

Liza Hersh

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2019

NYC Crash Course

8 Dec

This week marks my last week as an intern in ABT’s Institutional Support Department. I am still looking forward to the last weekly meeting with Dennis Walters who is the Associate Director of Education and Training and the other interns, as well as ABT’s Executive Director, Kara Barnett. I will also close out this experience with an 80’s themed Holiday party this Friday!

Coming from my hometown of Arlington, TX to New York City for three months for this internship has been a crash course to say the least; a crash course in NYC living, non-profit organizations, and professional life as a whole. My supervisor Ebonie Pittman, the Associate Director of Institutional Support and Special Campaigns, has introduced me to the opportunity of supporting this over 40 million dollar organization by soliciting donations and grants through formal requests and networking. It is empowering to fundraise for a non-profit with a mission that aligns with mine, sharing the both historic and progressive aspects of dance and fine arts to a broad audience, especially those who may not otherwise have had access to it. (Shoutout to Project Plié, ABT’s diversity initiative.) I am looking forward to transferring the skills I’ve gained to future opportunities and hopefully being able to help financially support myself and my peers who are starting small dance companies and arts organizations with impactful missions.

I have a deep love for travel and did not expect such a cultural shock by moving to NYC this fall. Throughout my recent four years at Howard University, I became familiar with public transportation by living in Washington, DC and studying abroad in Paris, France for a semester in 2016. However, the New York City Metro is a whole different beast. The fast pace of everything and the high volume of people (and dogs in sweaters) was more than I could expect, but I love the fact that there is always something to do in the city that truly never sleeps. I can always catch a late night train or dance class. There is always something new to experience and someone new to meet.

Working in an office like ABT has shown me how fun professional life could be. While I’ve grown up as an aspiring dancer thinking being a professional in an office environment would be boring and draining, I have learned this fall about the potential that working in the right office environment can give. Taking on new projects, challenging oneself, helping create and facilitate exciting events, working with a determined team toward a common goal, and seeing the direct impact of positive work makes me eager to find my next professional opportunity. (My new requirement = a dog-friendly office) I also got to see all the work that goes behind the scenes of creative endeavors like dance companies from the important team that finds the funding for tours and galas to the teams that ensure that an audience will show up through marketing and membership. There as so many individuals working their hardest to ensure that Misty Copeland can fouetté on stages in Hong Kong or Detroit.

After three months in New York City, I am ready to return to the notably slower paced Dallas-Fort Worth area to celebrate the holidays and prepare for my next endeavor. This NYC crash course has prepared me for whatever my next step is, whether it is continuing to build my dance career, finding a new city to explore, using my new skills to support my entrepreneurial goals, helping another mission oriented organization in a creative office environment, or hopefully a good mix of everything. I am grateful to have gotten to experience New York and ABT over the past few months. From watching World Premieres from this year’s fall season shows to meeting the principal dancers and every staff member, it has been a wonderful experience. I am glad I’ve been able to use my love for dance and writing to support ABT for this short period of time!

Reya Roussel

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2018


Late Start to a Great Week

19 Dec

At the beginning of the program I was excited to start the internship, learn about institutional support and more about ABT. My supervisor, Ebonie, described the projects I’d work on once I started which generated more excitement. But then she dropped a bomb. She told me she would have to go in for jury duty but hoped she wouldn’t get picked. However, the odds weren’t in my favor. This meant my start date would be pushed back another week. I was saddened by the news but I knew it was out of her control.

After the late start, I was ready to jump right in and that’s exactly what happened. On my first day I drafted proposals for foundations, attended a developmental staff meeting and met Misty Copeland. To say the least, my first day was pretty remarkable. During my first week, I began working on a major grant application for the Shubert Foundation. I couldn’t believe Ebonie trusted me to carry out this important task. Her confidence in me boosted my own confidence, because I was apprehensive to work on something important in a new field.

While working on the Shubert Foundation grant application, my assumptions of ABT being just a classical ballet company changed. I learned about their Project Plié initiative, educational outreach programs, touring and the Women’s Choreographers Initiative. Their efforts to stay true to their mission and provide dance to the widest possible audience is genuine. I also appreciated their efforts to not only provide opportunities to dancers but also to teachers and arts administrators. ABT is consistently trying to expand and adapt to the needs of their community.

My first week jumpstarted an inspiring internship and a passion for arts administration. While working at ABT I was able to assist with the Fall Gala, attend performances, sit in on rehearsals, meet donors and attend an in-studio performance. In just 4 months I was able to learn the ins and outs of ABT. Well some ins and outs, as I’m sure there is much more to learn.

Makeda Griffith

Institutional Support Intern

Fall 2017

Developing Valuable Skills in the Development Department

31 Jul

This past spring, I got to spend time interning in the Development Department at ABT. I worked in Institutional Giving and I got to learn a lot of valuable things about arts administration as a whole and how to develop relationships within the field.

I feel extremely lucky to have had this experience, especially as it was during my last semester in college. The internship program at ABT is unique because they really strive to give you an overview of arts administration as a whole. The intern meetings were fantastic because we got to speak with people who were working in a variety of different  departments and hear about their day to day tasks, the rewards and challenges of their jobs, and what made them so passionate about their work. It was fantastic to see how the departments worked together and the intern meetings gave me a great overview of the field and all of the different ways that people can contribute.

Additionally, I felt very lucky to have a mentor who was incredibly supportive. She was patient and took the time to check in throughout the semester to make sure that I was getting the most out of my experience. She walked me through the process of applying for grants and I got to learn a lot about building and maintaining relationships with different foundations and companies. She also invited me to sit in on important calls and walked me through the complete process of grant applications, from finding grants to writing applications and even the steps that you have to take to follow up and cultivate that professional relationship. All the while, she patiently addressed my questions and concerns and even set up meetings with people in other departments to make sure that I had a comprehensive understanding of ABT and the work that they do.

I feel extremely lucky to have worked with such a talented and passionate groups of people. The environment at ABT was always welcoming and everyone there is really focused on working together. I think that one of the most important things I learned was how people bring different skills and resources to a project and how to be a valuable member of a team. As an intern, I was given tasks that really contributed to the company and its mission. I was also invited to sit in on many discussions and meetings and, as a result, I can truly say that I walked away with much more knowledge about arts administration and the feeling that I got to make a small contribution to something truly incredible.

Niara Walden

Institutional Giving Intern

Spring 2017