Hello! My name is Anna Mayes and I graduated from Drexel's Arts Administration in December of 2020. My master's thesis was titled "Organization Programming and Mission Fulfillment in a Time of Crisis." This thesis was a multi-case study that looked at the programming decisions of Opera Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Philly POPS. While I looked at both regular season and education programming, I became increasingly interested in the ways that these organizations were fulfilling their mission through education. When I started my thesis last March, I had no idea what was going to happen. In fact, one of my classmates asked me what I would do if the COVID-19 pandemic was over after a month. I didn't have an answer, but I knew that it was a topic I wanted to research because the arts had never faced an event like a global pandemic. There was no right response to this pandemic and each of these organizations responded in the way that fit them best. Prior to my time at Drexel, I attended Washington College in Chestertown, MD where I majored in Music and English with double minors in History and Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Q: How did your thesis land you your current position?
A: “During my last semester at Drexel, I started doing some social media work for Live Arts Maryland in Annapolis, MD. The artistic director, Ernie Green, was my choir director and musical director during undergrad and we had a strong working relationship. At the time, LAM was beginning to expand and gained a new venue that would allow for more recording and community engagement. After talking about my thesis with Ernie and sending it to him, he asked me if I would like to come on board full-time to work with community engagement. Since they are expanding, they were looking to bring someone on to create new programming for a current/post-COVID world. The timing was perfect and I just happened to have a connection to an organization looking for someone with knowledge/ideas for education and community programming during COVID-19.”
Q: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
A: “That’s a big question. Whether it be with LAM or another organization, I want to continue working with education and community programming. I haven't even officially started my job yet, but it is already so cool and I love what I'm doing. I've thought about going to get my Ph.D., but that's something I will decide later.”
Q: If you could go back in time and give your graduate student-self any advice what would it be?
A: “Simple: Stop second-guessing yourself. You are in this program for a reason and you bring a unique perspective to the table. Grab some coffee or tea, go to URBN, and continue to invest in your education.”
Q: What is your mission in the arts and culture sector? What changes are you currently supporting? What is a perfect world for you and the industry?
A: “My mission right now is to make arts education accessible to everyone in my community through innovative programming. I know..."innovative" is a buzzword, but I think that we need to be more innovative now than we were before due to continuing safety concerns. In a perfect world, everyone has access to the arts and arts education. Arts funding is often one of the first things to get cut, which is very unfortunate. I believe that it is one of the few things where everyone can find something that they love. I am and always have been an advocate for accessibility and funding. The arts are changing and will continue to change. Right now, a lot of organizations are producing virtual works which allow people in other states to view their works. I believe the question now is: How are we going to reach the people in our community who do not have the resources to watch our performances online?”