At spring’s end, we asked our two current graduate assistants, Krista Grant and Lauren Scarborough, to talk about being part of the Lotus team. Both are students in the Arts Administration program in Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. They manage to blend formidable academic schedules with their work for our appreciative staff. Here’s Krista’s take on her Lotus experience so far.
So, how did you find your way to Lotus?
I came to Bloomington as an undergrad studying art history and studio art, intending to go to graduate school for art conservation. Between earning my bachelor’s degree and applying to grad school, I worked full-time as a conservation tech, and realized that while I love working in the arts — libraries, museums, and other arts-focused organizations — I would sorely miss interaction with the community if I became a conservator. So, I redirected to arts administration. The investment in both the arts and the community is what I love about Lotus. During my time in Bloomington, I have attended a handful of Lotus Festivals, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the office as a graduate assistant. I connect to the mission and goals of Lotus, so all of the projects I’ve worked on over the past two semesters have been fulfilling and exciting to be a part of.
What’s been on your Lotus docket so far?
I mostly work with Outreach Director Loraine Martin, and my main project has been planning, preparing for, and helping with Lotus Blossoms. That included acting as a liaison between artist managers and Lotus, scheduling performances, creating teaching materials, and shaping artist itineraries. Working around weather-related school closings brought unexpected challenges. I was able to watch a performance by the Indian dance troupe Kalapriya, and seeing how well the dancers worked with and responded to students’ energy (and attention spans) brought home the importance of Lotus Blossoms. The opportunity to work on the whole project, from initial artist research to writing the evaluation report, was deeply inspiring and reinforced my appreciation of what Lotus does for the community. Getting feedback and amazing comments from teachers made the months of work that went into it seem minor.
You’re coming back to your grad assistantship with Lotus in the fall – just in time for the Festival crunch. What are you looking forward to about your return?
I started last year just before the Festival and worked on small projects that needed to be finished quickly. That was fun, and exciting, and got me used to everyone and everything immediately. I was struck by how smoothly everything went. I’ve had some experience in event and tournament planning, and it seems like no matter how well you plan, there is always that last-minute snag. I hadn’t realized, until I applied for an interview to be a GA, that Lotus has such a small staff. I was expecting double or triple the staff size. Of course, having hundreds of dedicated volunteers is a huge asset, but I was in awe of how well the many parts of Festival preparation ran and how few last-minute mini-emergencies there were. I’m excited to come into the fall semester with a greater capacity to help keep everything running smoothly, and to understand better all of the behind-the-scenes things that make the difference between a fixable hiccup and a roadblock.
How has being a GA for Lotus has been valuable to you as you think about your next career steps in the arts?
Being a GA for Lotus has given me insight into the larger planning process of events and the inner workings of an arts-focused non-profit, but more valuable and intangible is the experience of working with such fantastic people. Everyone on staff embodies both an appreciation for the arts and a serious work ethic – it’s an inspiring combination. They dream up amazing, enriching experiences, and then make those experiences happen. Mobilizing hundreds of volunteers, understanding the community, and working to time projects just right: these things can’t be taught in classrooms, or even observed over a short time. With each additional month spent at the Lotus office, I see more of these qualities and, hopefully, internalize them.
Nothing helps reinforce what I’m studying in my master’s program better than this experience, and Lotus is so dynamic that I’ve been able to apply a huge range of concepts from various classes. On top of that, the great atmosphere and altruism of the organization has made it a fantastic place to work.
Check out Lauren Scarborough’s post here.