Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Arts are my Inspiration [Heather Intro!]

By Heather E. Heslup

Some of my earliest memories include sitting with my dad, sketching, listening to music, watching/ critiquing films with my family or going to the latest Alvin Ailey performance! Needless to say the Arts run deep within me and have inspired every move I’ve made in life. In high school I gravitated toward visual and performing arts. I loved my painting classes and reveled in my drama course - such that by my senior year I was given the honor of directing a segment of the schools spring play, Into The Woods.

Born and raised in Chicago, I ventured to Washington D.C. for college where I received my B.A. in Media Production from Howard University. There I worked at the campus’ main performance venue, Cramton Auditorium. At the Cramton I wore many hats on any given day, from assistant to the House Manager, Assistant to the Production Manager to Lighting Technician. My 3 year experience at Cramton deepened my appreciation and love for the Performing Arts.

I began my career at Public Broadcast Service, trying to connect with my media degree, but after a few years I yearned for more. During a visit home I attended a concert with some friends and began feeling very nostalgic as I watched the stage crew work – I remember the hard and long days of work and the roar of a crowd once a show ended. The feeling that overcame me, knowing that I was a part of a team that brought this experience to the public, was such an amazing feeling at that moment that media was no longer my focus; with that I made a decision to enroll in the Masters of Arts Management Program at Columbia College Chicago. I made my journey back to Chicago and towards my future in Arts Management.

I have been back in Chicago for 5 years and have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful organizations. I worked 2 seasons with the Grant Park Music festival - my first introduction to classical music. During my graduate studies I was awarded a Columbia College’s Diversity Scholarship for my efforts in planning various events for Columbia College’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. This award allowed me to enroll in the International Arts Management course offered in my graduate program; I had the extreme pleasure of traveling to Vienna and Prague, exploring various arts institutions. The education I received at the Grant Park Music Festival proved very beneficial to me in Europe!!

Before coming to Auditorium Theatre I held the role of Community Schools Program Associate for the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP), an organization dedicated to Arts Education. In my role I helped bring various after-school arts programs to Chicago Public Schools. My experience at CCAP fueled my long-time desire to do work that was meaningful and beneficial not only to myself but to the community at large. Naturally, joining the Education team at The Auditorium Theatre was the perfect next step. I am extremely enthused to not only be back in a Performing Arts environment, but to serve as the Project Manager for the Theatre’s latest education initiative, the ArtsXchange program. This program thrills me because it is a way to directly change how teachers and school administrators in Chicago Public Schools approach arts education and understand its impact on student learning.

All in all I feel blessed that I can say I am on the right path. I can’t wait for what’s in store for me at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.

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