Skip to content

Laura McCallum

By Laura McCallum, Creative Management Intern – Shaw Festival

When I declared in third year of theatre school that I didn’t want to be an actor anymore, no one was surprised. I was always in my head, never “in my body.”

Tell someone that you’re an actor and they launch into a series of questions: “Do you want to be on Broadway someday?” It’s annoying, but this is minute in comparison to saying you work in arts administration. Here there are no helpful conversation starters, like “You must love making spreadsheets?” Blank stares are more the style as you explain that theatres don’t run themselves. If Glee had a character who only wanted to book busses to regionals, people may understand what I do every day.

The main difference between an administrative program and an acting program is that you sit. You sit a lot. But more than that, you sit and think and discuss. It’s not that you don’t “do,” you “do” a fair bit actually, but introspection and analytical thinking are encouraged. Never once have I been squinted at for pointing out obvious flaws in the system; if anything, my classmates celebrate that I ask the questions they’re too embarrassed to put up their hand for. Even though my undergraduate degree was in art creation, I would argue that we spend far more time discussing “what is art?” and its purpose in this program than that one.

Being asked to think, discuss, and explain are all encouraged in arts administration. Here, I rise to be as cerebral as possible and am challenged to push my analytic thinking as far as it can go. In arts admin, if I am in my body, I’m doing it wrong. So I am in my head, right where I belong.

Find out more about Laura on her Linkedin.