UMass Arts Extension Service hosts second annual Arts Internship Fair
By Aria Bracci '17 | Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Aria Bracci '17
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
“Local” dominated the tone of this year’s Arts Internship Fair, a buzzing microcosm of the larger art community. Organized by members of the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service in collaboration with Career Services; the Departments of Art, History of Art, Music and Dance, History, and Theater; and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the event took over the Fine Arts Center Atrium, packing it wall-to-wall with representatives from museums, theater groups, and dance companies—and all, notably, were from Western Massachusetts. “It is the synergy of student and area artist that is unique,” said Dee Boyle-Clapp, Director of the Arts Extension Service, describing the exploration of this niche: the combination of professional arts experience with local, accessible opportunities.
Art providers covered diverse terrain, both in geographic area and content. Many theater majors gravitated in similar directions, like toward the decorated tabletop of Turners Falls’ Silverthorne Theater Company, while students in Studio Arts often bounced between representatives of museums, many of which traced farther south to the Springfield and Holyoke art scenes. But the artistic divisions weren’t meant to be so clear-cut.
Chad Chaffee, a student in the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) program, was in attendance, eager to find work relating to his custom-designed major, “Wellness and the Arts.” His curriculum combines public health and studies in art to investigate the relevance and importance of arts-inclusive education. “The opportunities they’re providing—they’re so diverse, from education internships to grant writing,” he said, citing the Eric Carle Museum and Jacob’s Pillow as exciting prospects.
Sharon Raymond, an independent artist from Shutesbury, occupies a much narrower niche. Raymond sells shoemaking kits made out of recycled materials, but her goal for the intern search wasn’t necessarily to find another shoemaker—it was to pick the brains of any creative type. “I came here to find someone who could help me with marketing,” she said, describing a student who’d already offered her a catchy slogan.
Jacob’s Pillow representatives Ariana Brawley and Alex Groff felt similarly satisfied by the students. “We’ve been really excited about the students we’ve met today,” Brawley said, describing them as “prepared” and “congenial.” Groff agreed. “I’m a UMass alum,” she said, “but I never had this kind of mind-set going into things.” Both acknowledged, too, the variety of backgrounds students carried with them. At Jacob’s Pillow, an integrative dance center that Groff mentioned “runs on a lot of intern power over the summer,” students of all fields are encouraged to apply. “If we only had dancers in the room, we might not have as good of ideas,” Brawley said. Groff nodded. “Being a creative person can mean many different things.”
In its second year, the Arts Internship Fair already strikes this balance. Not only have its organizers compiled a group of providers that cover many fields under the Humanities and Fine Arts—there are plenty of overlaps. Students can explore a seemingly unrelated arts field while still utilizing the skills acquired within their specific academic program. However, this fluidity, and the abundance it yields, didn’t happen by accident. It was the product of investment in the future of arts and culture, starting right here at UMass. “Our arts and humanities students deserve these opportunities,” Boyle-Clapp said, “so we took it upon ourselves to do this work.”