New York City, Center of the MAAA Universe

Article written by Olivia, a graduate student in the MAAA program at SPEA. During the academic year Olivia serves as a Graduate Assistant in Marketing at Cardinal Stage Company, is a Teaching Assistant for Professor Amy Osajima, and is a SPEA Ambassador.

My early afternoon flight was delayed leaving Bloomington, and I sat in the Indy airport while I watched my classmates board different flights. I arrived at LaGuardia airport at midnight. I waited and waited for my car service that I had previously arranged, and when he finally dropped me (still a block away) from my friends’ doorstep, he tried to trick me into paying more. I had a cold, and I slept poorly that night on an air mattress in a freezing room. I had forgotten to write down the address of the first site visit the following morning and I couldn’t access the wifi in the apartment. First world problems! This was not how I had envisioned this “life-changing” trip to NYC to start.

2 subway stop

The subway stop in Astoria

OK, enough negatives, now for some positivity. In the morning I woke up on time—a huge deal for me. I had on my cool new Fitbit, so was enjoying the long walk to the subway. I love taking public transportation, and I had to smile to myself while standing next to a young, handsome and off-key gentleman belting Rent with his ear buds in. Yep, this is New York! I got off at the right train stop. I walked along, amazed at how many people were already out at 7:30am! I found the site visit location, and spotted two amazing things at the same time: my classmate just down the block and a Starbucks.

I shouted Michailean’s name with relief and frantically waved my whole arm above my head. He turned, and I saw that same relief reflected in his face. New York City on your own can be a scary place. We sought shelter in the warm and crowded coffee shop. As we started to see more MAAAs congregating across the street, my nerves turned into excitement—we were finally here, we all made it. Armed with freshly edited resumes and newly printed business cards, it was time to start practicing those networking skills we had all learned so much about.

A coffee break

A coffee break

Arian Moayed is an IU alum that moved to New York City to start a theatre company. He and his best friend lived on Atwater with a landlord named Mr. Wells, hence the company name Waterwell Theatre. He led us upstairs and we crowded onto his couches and around his conference table. I wasn’t expecting to be inspired by a start-up story, since that’s not really where I see myself heading. I was blown away by his enthusiasm and passion for great art, his insights into “making it” in the Big Apple, and his blunt but encouraging advice. What a way to start your morning- it was so great to hear from someone who had gained real success in New York- someone who was truly just like us, with a degree from IU, a passion for art, and a dream to make something happen. I liked that guy.

We got to visit the Museum of the Moving Image, where we saw Robin Williams’ real prosthetic makeup from Mrs. Doubtfire. A corporate guest pass gave us unlimited access to the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA was particularly eye opening, where we got to speak to almost the entire Development team; understanding that fundraising is about cultivating relationships instead of begging for money was a real eye-opener for me.

MAAAs, Museum of the Moving Image

MAAAs, Museum of the Moving Image

I’m a huge supporter of this “all site-visit” format for these C-NET trips. Walking around, really experiencing the city, and getting to talk to administrative staff in their actual places of work is truly inspiring. How encouraging it was to learn that there really are jobs out there for people like me, and that it is possible to make a career out of the things that you love. I was constantly reminded that New York City would be an incredible place to live and work as an arts administrator—NYC is the center of the arts universe. It seems like a no-brainer: what more do you need to inspire yourself than being completely saturated with incredible art on every street?

NYC street

NYC street

I hadn’t really considered living and working there before this trip, but after watching a live New York City Ballet rehearsal, getting close to Benny Goodman’s real clarinet at the Carnegie Hall museum, and staring mesmerized at a digital exhibit of cat videos at MMI, I began to realize how wonderful it would be to surround myself with art and artists in that amazing city. NYC provides a constant reminder of why I love this business, and why I am choosing to work to keep it alive. Thank you, New York, for being the center of our MAAA universe for that short and wonderful weekend (despite my cold and the delayed flights.) Thanks for being there to remind me that I can do this.


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