From Music to Arts Management

Allison Gilliard is currently the Special Programs and Outreach Coordinator at Portrait Society of America, a nonprofit in Tallahassee, FL, aiming to “foster and enhance an understanding of the practice, techniques and applications of traditional fine art portraiture and figurative works.” As Outreach Coordinator, Allison is primarily responsible for cultivating relationships with artists and sponsors (nationally and internationally) and connecting them to educational resources. She coordinates the State Ambassador Outreach Program and Cecilia Beaux Forum, recruiting volunteers and connecting members to artist and mentorship opportunities in portraiture and women’s literature. In addition, she is a content creator for the organization’s social media and works closely with sponsors and exhibitors for the organization’s annual conference.

Allison Gilliard received her B.A. in Music (Voice Performance) from the University of West Florida and M.A. in Music Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. After receiving her M.A., Allison realized that the performing arts field is a “cutthroat environment” that demanded more than one’s passion for the arts and a master’s degree. Remembering her Community and Education Outreach Internship at Pensacola Opera which introduced her to the “business side of the arts,” Allison found a new direction that allowed her to continue to work with performers - Arts Management.

Although Allison had previous experience working in the nonprofit arts field, she felt she needed the education to support her experience.

“My Arts Management Certificate has qualified me to work in the non-profit arts field. Prior to getting my certificate, I had applied to several arts management positions but didn’t get much response. I didn’t want to get another master's degree. Then I found the Arts Extension Service and began to take some courses. It was the perfect way to get more experience,” she says.

While working as both a voice and piano teacher and a customer service agent, Allison earned her online Core Certificate in Arts Management in 2017. Her online coursework consisted of Introduction to Arts Management, Arts Programming, Arts Marketing, and Board Development, which she believes prepared her for the work at Portrait Society of America.

“As Outreach Coordinator, there is a lot of Marketing involved. I have to create marketing plans, research best avenues to promote our events and resources nationally and internationally, and much more. I frequently reference the Marketing chapter of the textbook and my notes from the course to assist me in my current job,” Allison explains.

So what’s next?

“Ideally, I’d love to work with a nonprofit organization, either symphony or orchestra as I have a background in music. I am also interested in educational outreach as well.”

We wish the best to Allison in the next chapters of her professional career.

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