“Hi, my name is Nina Lee, and I’m a freelance Arts Administrator.”
When you introduce yourself like that, people often ask, “An ‘arts administrator’? What does that even mean??”
As Nina can tell you, it means a lot of things.
“For the most part, I prepare grants, donation and sponsorship packages for artists and small arts organizations. I create pamphlets, advertisements, year-end reports and programmes. I also design and implement databases to keep track of alumni, members and donors.”
Nina graduated from Humber’s Arts Administration and Cultural Resource Management program in 2003, after completed her HBA in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Toronto. In the years that followed, Nina worked for the Mississauga Arts Council, the Dance Umbrella of Ontario and also took on a contracts with other small companies. In 2007, Nina stepped away from the arts world to work at the University of Toronto as an Editorial Assistant and Database Coordinator. But, she says, there was something missing.
“After about 7 years, I found that I really missed working in the art world, and so I re-started my freelance business, and after some success, began to it pursue full-time.”
Nina says the best part about her job is being a part of the artists’ process.
“We are their support, and they cannot accomplish great things without a team to support them. It is a rewarding symbiotic relationship in which I’m proud to play a part.”
And what about the most challenging aspect of being an arts administrator? Nina isn’t shy about her answer… she’s shy!
“I can be a bit shy at times, so the most challenging aspect of my work as a freelance Arts Administrator is networking and meeting new people. Networking is a necessary part of my work, so I find myself working harder to improve this skill.”
Luckily, Nina says, her time at Humber helped a lot with that very aspect of her career.
“The Arts Admin program was a great learning experience and gave me the opportunity to meet many people in the industry, learn about the ins and outs of the arts world culture, and ultimately helped me find work and gave me the confidence to know that I could take on many roles within and outside the industry.”
Being flexible and having lots of transferrable skills is key to Nina’s words of wisdom to arts admin students: keep your mind and your options open.
“Whether you end up working in arts admin or in another industry after you graduate, you will learn skills in the Arts Admin program that you can transfer to any industry. I wasn’t expecting to work in database management while I was studying at Humber, but what I learned about member and donor relations was directly applicable to my work in alumni relations at the University of Toronto.”