For Courtney Parker '08 of Westfield, Mass., the contacts she made as an undergraduate at MCLA proved vital to launching her career in the arts. A graduate of the Fine and Performing Arts program with a concentration in arts management, she works for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).
As the assistant to MASS MoCA's managing director of performing arts and film, Parker's duties extend beyond administrative tasks. She works with the artists to advance promotional media and contracts, manages the drafting of a new program each week, and serves as MASS MoCA's usher manager and volunteer coordinator for all of the museum's festivals, including the recent Solid Sound event. This year alone, she has been responsible for scheduling and coordinating more than 250 volunteers.
In addition to the learning she obtained in the classroom, Parker said the greatest resource she gained during her time at MCLA was the ability to make connections, as well as the opportunities that were presented to her through those connections.
"I learned about the performing arts administration internship at MASS MoCA that I served January through May 2007 through MASS MoCA's company manager, who came into one of my classes to speak about her role," Parker explained. "MCLA's partnership with MASS MoCA, in general, was advantageous for me. I was able to begin networking in my field while still in school, which put me in a really great place by the time I graduated and was ready to start working full time in the arts."
She wrote her senior thesis paper on "The Revitalization of Downtown North Adams by MASS MoCA."
"I believe in it, deeply. I think what cultural organizations have done for this local economy and others like it is incredible," Parker said. "What a progressive idea, to take a run-down economy and infuse it with arts and culture, rather than commercialism."
Parker worked in several positions after her graduation.
"Ultimately, I landed several of the gigs I did due to networking and keeping in touch with some fine individuals within the arts community," she explained. "I find that, especially in the arts, networking is key. You never know who will offer you your next gig, so stay on good terms with everybody, if you can."
In addition to serving several internships while at MCLA, Parker participated in a number of campus clubs and organizations. "I had some of the absolute best moments of my life at MCLA - with friends and on stage."
A member of the MCLA Dance Company, Parker also performed several solos in music and dance.
"My arts management courses, mostly with the amazing (Professor) Lauren O'Neal, were endlessly helpful," she said. "The nonprofit organization was broken down and explained, we were able to learn the steps to incorporating, how to write a mission statement, fundraising, grant writing - the list goes on. Having the opportunity to learn and discuss many of the systems that are in place for the arts was invaluable for me."