Today is officially my last day as Communications Coordinator at The Arts Partnership. As I write this, the office is quiet. Dayna is off at a meeting and kicking butt the way she usually does, and Tania, Ellia and Danica are out hanging a new show for one of our ArtWORKS clients. As for Christina, she’s in a desert somewhere helping set up Burning Man for a few weeks. If that’s not the most Christina thing ever, I don’t know what is.
Now that I’ve submitted my final story for the Fargo Forum, I find myself reflecting on how much I’ve changed in the last three years as a result of this position. I started as a bright-eyed intern working with my predecessor, MeLissa Kossick, my last semester of college at North Dakota State University in spring 2016. When MeLissa left the position later that summer, Dayna asked me come aboard part-time to keep the communication piece of the organization afloat while they searched for a new Communications Coordinator. Over those two months, I got to know Dayna and Tania better, and they saw potential in me. I was surprised when they told me to apply for the position. I was even more surprised when Dayna offered me the job in late September, which involved a high-pitched “REALLY?” and outpouring joy. Ask Dayna to tell the story sometime; it’s one of her favorites.
I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, and because the hours are dwindling down until I need to turn in my key, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I’ve learned.
As Communications Coordinator at The Arts Partnership…
1. I learned that creativity is hard work.
Before I started as an intern with The Arts Partnership, I was a “budding arts supporter.” I didn’t necessarily attend a lot of art events, but I knew I was interested in art and that I wanted to learn more. Because my position worked so closely with our Partner artists and arts organizations, I had a better chance than many people in this community to learn about the local arts because I was often behind-the-scenes to gather content about an artist, performance or production. In doing so, I got to see the hard work, thoughtfulness and passion that goes into creating an experience for our community or telling a story. Artists spend hours, days, weeks and months to prepare something to share, and even when the seats don’t get filled as much as they hoped or attendance is low, they continue on to the next project with the same passion as before.
The Arts Partnership is an arts organization ourselves, so I got to experience these challenges and rewards through our own advocacy work, programming and events. We’ve certainly made progress as a community in how we view and utilize the arts as an asset, but I hope more people continue to understand that the arts aren’t just about making things aesthetically pleasing. They’re about bringing people together and fostering conversation. They’re about bringing in money for our economy and making our community better. I hope you — whoever is reading this — will consider going to an art event you’ve never been to before and keeping an open mind (our calendar is a great resource). Or, when you are looking for new decor for your home, that you’ll consider buying an original piece from an artist (our Partners list is a great start) rather than a print at a department store. Even a simple “like” on Facebook can go a long way for an artist. Artists are grateful for every ounce of support. It’s what makes their hard work worth it.
2. I learned how to be a better arts supporter and advocate.
This ties into my previous point, but this position has taught me how to be a better arts supporter and advocate. When I move to Grand Forks tomorrow, I’m excited to explore the arts community there. Whenever I visit a new city, I try to go to an art museum or find a local art market. Because of this position, I intentionally seek out the arts because they allow me to meet the most wonderful people or experience things that make me think differently. I also know what goes into arts advocacy and who I can contact to push the needle even further on a local, state and federal level. Even though I won’t always work in the arts, I will always carve out time in my life to support the arts whenever I can.
3. I learned how to create community.
In high school and college, I wasn’t as involved in my community as I wanted to be. But being Communications Coordinator has taught me the importance of creating community through the arts and maintaining relationships that come about organically in the process. I’ve met so many wonderful people in this community through this job, and now I will be even more community-oriented going forward. No matter where I live, I will always seek out passionate people who care about their community and making it better. Those are the people with which I want to surround myself, and I don’t know if I would have realized this if I didn’t work at The Arts Partnership.
4. I learned how important it is to work for someone who invests in you.
From the day she hired me, Dayna has invested in making me a better professional, community member and arts supporter by paying for networking memberships and tickets, encouraging me to apply for new opportunities, sending me to conferences and more. I’ve met many of my favorite people as a result of these investments, and I can’t thank Dayna enough for always being willing to invest whatever she could with our limited budget to get me out into the world. Going forward, “cares about employees” is a quality I will always look for in a boss because of this position.
I’ll also add that finding an entire team that you work well with is important. Tania, Christina, Danica, Brit, Linda, our interns, our board… I’m thankful to every single one of them for making this job so fun (although we’ve all got a little of an M&M addiction that I think needs some intervention).
I’m also grateful to all of our Partners for making our community so wonderful and for inspiring me every day. Thank you for allowing me to tell your stories. It’s been an absolute privilege!
Keep an eye out for content for our new Communications Coordinator, Ethan Mickelson. He’s going to do great things — I know it!