APAP Conference: A Volunteer and Networking Experience
By Aly Redland, TPA Student Employee
I started working at TPA my freshman year, and it has been one of my best college experiences! I work as the administrative student assistant to the scene shop. I’m currently studying Stage Management and Directing, so being able to work in another discipline within my art form has made me a more understanding, well-rounded artist. I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Performing Arts Professionals Conference this January. I would love to move to New York when I graduate, so this trip presented me with two opportunities: to meet and connect with performing art professionals, and to explore the city I love.
Working as a volunteer at the conference gave me the opportunity have a hands-on role in the behind the scenes work that goes into producing a conference of that scale. I was also selected to be a shift leader which allowed me to take on a higher level of responsibility. In addition to being a great learning experience, volunteering was great for networking. I had so many great conversations with other student volunteers and industry professionals.
When I wasn’t volunteering, I was able to attend sessions that focused on a large range of topics from diversity in the arts, to new technology that is making opera more accessible. My favorite session, “Every Hour Counts: A Simulation for Communicating in a Crisis,” discussed strategies for reshaping media narratives in the event of a crisis due to policy or political issues. The session began with a brief discussion, giving us the tools to plan for unforeseen events, then led us through a crisis simulation. This simulation forced us to walk through the actions of a media crisis and helped us save our fictional event.
Volunteering at the conference kept me busy, so I decided to stay a few extra days to do all the touristy things in the city. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, saw the Statue of Liberty, strolled through Central Park, and saw Times Square at night. I spent way too long in the art museums staring at the art. I had the best noodles in my life at a tiny, hand-pulled noodle shop in Chinatown and had an amazing pizza at Juliana’s Pizza. The food was absolutely to die for in New York.
Being a theatre major, I was very excited about seeing as many Broadway shows as I could while in New York. I saw Torch Song, The Band’s Visit, Waitress, Mean Girls, and Come From Away. It was so nice to see so much amazing theatre in such a short amount of time.
The highlight of my trip was connecting with some UT alums who are currently working full time in the arts. They talked about getting work in the city and their career paths. Our conversations made my dream of working in the arts feel like reachable reality.