MARY KATHERINE QUASARANO
THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012
If you question whether or not an experience with the arts can change your life, just ask Marissa Kurtzhals, a senior Arts Management student at Eastern Michigan University. “I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fox Theatre when I was six and I have never been the same.” Kurtzhals and her peers in the field and study of Arts Management are dedicated to sustaining those moments of inspiration for others, and for years to come. Her road to the Arts Management program began at the Fox Theatre and continued through Woodhaven High School. “I discovered my true passion for theatre with the help of my drama teacher Mr. Clemmons. He worked so hard for our program [and played] an integral role in my receipt of an EMU Theatre Scholarship.”
While looking for a way to combine her passion for theatre with practical business skills, a friend suggested that Kurtzhals explore EMU’s Arts Management program. “One meeting with Susan Booth and I was a convert! She talked about the ‘creative economy,’ the serious market for the arts, and gave me numerous articles to read. Arts Management is the business side of the arts and EMU’s program can be customized to your education and your specific interest.”
Professor Ken Stevens is the founder of both the graduate and undergraduate Arts Management & Administration programs at EMU. As described by Booth, “Eastern Michigan University’s Arts Management and Administration Program was one of the first undergraduate programs in the United States…created in 1975, the program was in direct response to a need for well-schooled arts administrators to usher in a growing number of regional arts and cultural institutions.”
Kurtzhals’ educational experience included a six-month internship at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts under Marketing Director Katherine Myers. “She [Myers] encouraged me to develop my voice on social media and provided great direction on writing effective communications.”
Last month, eleven students (including Kurtzhals) from AMPlifying the Arts (AMP), an organization of EMU Arts Management students, traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of the arts. They met with Michigan legislators Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Hansen Clarke and Representative John Dingell on National Arts Advocacy Day. Kurtzhals shares, “Asking your representatives for $155 million for the National Endowments of the Arts and $30 million for arts education is not an easy task. However, AMP students were pretty fearless. We’re a group of passionate young professionals. And many of us recently completed a course, taught by Professor Stevens, in which we studied techniques in addressing Congress to support the arts.”
Kurtzhals will be graduating in Fall/Winter 2012 with a degree in Arts Management and currently serves as the EMU Theatre Department’s Social Media Specialist. Her blog marissakurtzhals.blogspot.com chronicles her life as an artist and arts advocate. As its Social Media Specialist, the EMU Theatre’s Facebook page has increased its ‘Likes’ by 44% and Twitter followers and responses have increased steadily.
She shares the following from her trip to DC: “Alec Baldwin delivered a speech at the Kennedy Performing Arts Center to inspire the advocates. He mentioned his love for ‘gangster’ dancing after watching West Side Story and convinced us it was an integral part of his early days of inspiration.” Kurtzhals, a huge 30 Rock fan, had found a kindred spirit.
If you question whether or not an experience with the arts can change your life, just ask Marissa Kurtzhals…or Alec Baldwin.