At Texas Performing Arts, we take our role as educators and mentors very seriously. Through the day-to-day activities of our student employment program, we are able to professionally involve students in every aspect of our organization—but we know that the professional arts world is much larger and wider. To help our students break into that wider world, we have an ongoing program to take a select group of students to New York each year to attend the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) conference and connect with our growing network of TPA alumni. At our core, as managers of student employees, we’re educators, and having the opportunity to show, connect, and inspire our students to be the next generation of arts leaders is one of the most important things we can do. –Tim Rogers, Student Engagement Coordinator
By Maddie Daniell, TPA Student Employee
Growing up, New York City had always been one of those far away possibilities that I could never quite get my hands on---no matter how hard I wished on a birthday candle. However, I finally got to live out my dream adventure in January.
I came to Texas Performing Arts as an incoming freshman in the Fall of 2015. I had decided to major in film at the Moody College of Communications with the hopes of stepping into the world behind the curtain. I grew up with an appreciation for the arts and a well-known addiction for musical theatre. While working at TPA, I have been able to experience the performing arts in a new and interesting light by watching the magic unfold both on and off stage. Little, chance moments have given me the taste and motivation for pursuing different options in the creative world. The opportunity to volunteer at the annual APAP Conference in New York City turned out to be a really big, chance moment.
Signing up to volunteer at APAP was part impulse and part dedication; If you want to be a part of a greater community of artists and creative minds, then you have to take that first plunge into the unknown. This trip marked a whole lot of firsts for me: my first plane ride, first time visiting New York City, first time alone on a subway, first time seeing a Broadway show in New York, and the first time that I was exploring a possibility without any guidelines or a directing hand.
The conference was a fantastic learning experience in the world of professional networking. It also helped me understand the various aspects and issues of presenting the performing arts to generation enthralled by computers, instant solutions, and the newest trends. I even had the opportunity to work a shift in a group session that discussed the demands confronting music festivals around the world. The whole experience reminded me of our writer’s groups in screenwriting where there is the constant exchange and passionate debate of ideas until a singular story is found.
The best part of the session was sharing our opinions and personal experiences with festivals, trends, and ticketing. The simple gesture allowed us college kids to take some steps into the professional world without a questioning look. It was completely nerve racking, but also completely worth seeing a possibility become a reality and watching as more doors opened to career paths we didn't see before.
When I wasn’t working a shift at the conference, I was out exploring the city that never sleeps. As I stepped out of Penn Station on my first night, I found myself right in the thick of the New York City hustle and bustle. It was an amazing feeling that is still engraved in my mind. I loved every minute of walking in the brisk air and taking in every inch of the city. I don’t think a smile ever left my face. I was visiting famous museums, seeing paintings I had studied throughout high school, and experiencing the magic of Anastasia on a New York theater stage. I was living my own fairytale complete with its own happily ever after atop the Empire State Building where I may have shed a couple of happy tears.
Not everyone gets to say one of their dreams actually came true but I’m one of the lucky. I’m also one of the many who got the chance to experience what New York City and the world of the performing arts has to offer us as we take the next step into our professional lives. For me, my time at TPA and the moments I shared with New York City are continuing to inspire me to accept the challenges my future holds for me.