An alumna of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Meghan Robertson is the Company Manager and Intern Coordinator at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art ( MASS MoCA).
Meghan knew that she wanted to work in theatre “in the seventh grade.” She graduated with a Fine and Performing Arts: Arts Management degree in 2001 and has been working at the museum since 1999 in the box office and got her current job in 2004. There are many aspects to her two jobs including writing all contracts, arranging housing, arranging scheduling, and handling the payroll for the interns while also handling all artists and VIP’s travel, lodging, and hospitality at MASS MoCA. In her own words, her job is “all the perks of stage management minus the tech side of things.”
She has worked on a variety of shows and has many stories. One that impacted her was a show that she had done.
“In 2012, MASS MoCA and Williamstown Theatre Festival had a co-residency creating a new musical Here, Lies, Love. It was an amazing piece with David Byrne, from Talking Heads fame, and directed by Alex Timbers, multiple Tony Awarded and nominated. The musical is like no musical that had been created before. The theater operated on moving platforms and then staged on them during their time with us. And, being a part of piece and watching the piece evolve to an incredible level over just a few short weeks. This musical is now opening in the West End of London, UK and I still think about the fact that the 4 weeks while they were helped create a piece of musical theatre history. As a huge musical/Broadway fan for my whole life, I am still amazed that I worked on a piece that is on that scale in North Adams, MA. It is the best of both worlds – high end theater, rural environment, and making art that matters.”
She obtained skills from MCLA such as team building and learning how to produce a high quality show with a small team and smaller budget, something that has been very helpful while working at MASS MoCA. She also uses her interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts that arise. Technology is important. “I live primarily on my phone. Everything is Dropbox and Google Docs. Primarily, I’m on my phone.” Her skills have helped her keep herself organized as she works on the separate shows and festivals, making sure that things are going smoothly. “There’s a lot going on at the same time.”
During school, Meghan wanted to work in theatre in some element backstage. One of her ideas had been stage management. With her current job as Company manager, she works on the shows that happen at MASS MoCA, but not in the same aspect as a stage manager does. Her job focuses on the business portion of the shows such as handling artists’ travel and lodging as well as taking care of the welcome they receive at the museum. She still calls time and has the rehearsal time, but in her words, “I wanted to do more and my drive to do prompt books went away.” Even though she had not known exactly what she had wanted to do while at MCLA, working through MASS MoCA and getting her degree had shown her where her passions lie. She “knew what she wanted to do, but found the perfect fit instead.”
Being intern coordinator means that she hires the interns, them and making sure that everything is running smoothly in production. She looks for hard workers who “are interested in their genre and will be happy there.” The genre is music and dance, though “The production team is the opposite, they want theatre.” Each department wants different types, so Meghan must decide which is the best fit. She does think that internships are extremely important to know that what you want to do is something that will make you happy.
There are many opportunities in the arts management world, many more than most people realize. Her advice for those working in the field are, “Always seeing what is going on out there is important, a non-profit could end up laying off half of their staff and you need to find somewhere to go. Always be out there and making sure you know what is going on.” Being focused on one job is not something that is helpful in your future, but could hold you back. Meghan Robertson is one example of an alumna who found her niche, but allowed herself to explore options to become successful and happy. She often tells people, “You’re gonna make more money, you’re gonna have more time if you work at a bank, but do you wanna work at a bank?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victoria Perry is a sophomore at MCLA. She is an Art Management and Fine and Performing Arts double major. She is also an aspiring stage manager and is a part of the class of 2017.