Tag Archives: Miami OH College of Creative Arts

The Rhythm of Management: How Arts Management Affected my Season with Rhythm X

By Lucas Conant

During my freshman year at Miami I participated in a drumline that competed in World Guard International (WGI) called Rhythm X. For the unfamiliar, WGI is a non-profit organization that hosts competitions for indoor color guard, drumline, and winds across the world. I had participated in WGI events since I was a freshman in my high school indoor drumline. Those events and the activity of indoor drumline had a big impact on me as a high schooler, so I knew I would want to stay active in this activity in college.

Rhythm X, like all independent (not part of a high school) drumlines, is a non-profit arts organization, which means that part of its income comes from donations. As a member, I participated in an organization wide effort that involved members reaching out to friends and family members for donations, along with coordinated pushes on all social media accounts surrounding “Giving Tuesday”. At the time, I took for granted that all of this work just happened around me, but now I can see the effort and the time that was put in by many people to ensure that Rhythm X had a strong donation campaign.

One unique challenge that Rhythm X faces, that most non-profits may not, is finding facilities to rehearse in every weekend. Since Rhythm X needs a rather large space to rehearse in, at the least an entire gym, it needed to make partnerships with high schools around the Indianapolis and Dayton areas in order to make sure that the members had a place to be every weekend. I didn’t think much about this when I was a member, but I see now that this issue required constant attention and effort to make sure that the transition between weekend to weekend was as smooth as possible and everybody knew where they needed to go.

Another challenge that had to be overcome because of the nature of the organization was the transporting of equipment every weekend. Rhythm X owns quite a lot of musical instruments, from marching snare drums, quads, and bass drums to glockenspiels, vibraphones, and giant 5-octave marimbas. These instruments needed to be transported from where they are stored to the place we were rehearsing every weekend, which often was many hours away. This required two semis to be driven to each location every weekend, unloaded, and then loaded back up at the end of the weekend. Personally, even trying to coordinate dinner with more than one person is hard for me, so I can’t even imagine the logistics and scheduling of making sure two semis full of expensive equipment arrive where they need to every weekend.

When I participated in Rhythm X I didn’t think at all about the amount of arts management that went on behind the scenes. I simply showed up to where I needed to be every weekend, practiced and performed with my friends, and went home. Looking back now after studying in the Arts Management program at Miami, I can see that there were a lot more gears turning behind the scenes than I thought. If any single piece had fallen out of place, it could have ruined a weekend or the whole season depending on the severity of the mistake. Luckily, the admin team at Rhythm X had no such misfortunes, and I enjoyed a stress free season performing music with my friends.

Making the Magic: Arts Management and the Charter Day Ball

By Anna Clark

There’s something special about the amount of thought, effort, and talent that goes into endless forms of art. Art cannot be defined simply and it feels that the definition is always becoming broader. For me, that moment I see an incredible artist walk on stage and flawlessly sing, dance, and perform in front of audience is magical. When a symphony orchestra is seamlessly in sync, when a dancer breathes life into music simply by the movement of their body, or a live theater performance where the actors are capable of taking that room and everyone in it to a different world and immersing the audience into a story.

Unreal. “The chills” is what some might call it, but I call it awe. The arts constantly have me sitting in my chair or standing in a room in complete awe. The definition of awe is, “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder”. Now, I rarely experience fear while experiencing art, but wonder is definitely applicable.

I decided my sophomore year that I wanted to be more involved on campus and the event that sparked my attention was Charter Day Ball. I heard about it during chapter and immediately wanted to learn more. I’ve never been to a ball, and being able to plan one sounded like the bees knees. I’ve always been involved with the arts

If you have not heard of Charter Day Ball yet, it’s Miami University’s birthday party. The event takes place every three years and is the largest student planned event on campus that is planned for about two years prior to the event. I am currently on the leadership team for the upcoming 2018 ball. I acquired my position on accident. I had little information on the event, but I knew I wanted to be more involved on campus and a ball sounded like an exciting event to be a part of. I signed up on The Hub to interview for what I thought was a general member position. However, once I received the email regarding my interview I learned it was for a Co-Chair position.

I was nervous at first because I had been having a difficult semester and did not want to over commit myself. However, I decided I needed to add something to my schedule that I truly enjoyed, so I interviewed and for the past year I have been planning entertainment for the 2018 Charter Day Ball. The experience is something I am proud of and the fact that I stumbled on it accidentally is a little crazy to me. Charter Day Ball is an event I am truly excited for because it has allowed me to include a variety of performers and performances throughout the night and hopefully there is something for everyone’s taste. At this point I can’t believe I ever considered bypassing this opportunity, it will truly be a night to remember and I personally can’t wait.

From Page to Stage and Everything in Between: A Timeline of Making a Musical

by Austin Lamewona

March 2015

I am a budding playwright with dreams of one day acting and writing professionally. I have what I think to be a cool concept for a musical about two feuding singing groups. I call it “Octets.” After writing a few poorly constructed scenes in a small notebook, I realize that I do not have the musical ability or even a solid enough idea to continue writing. In frustration, I toss the notebook in the back of my closet to separate myself from what I thought to be a pathetically embarrassing writing experiment. Despite this, the concept of this musical perpetually lingers in my mind.

Summer 2016

Almost a year and a half passes, and I experience a few successes with a couple plays I have written. I am about to embark on my Freshman year at Miami University. For various reasons, it does not include theatre as a major or minor. Fearing that my aspirations for a career in theatre would vanish overall, I search for a project that I can really dive into. I stumble upon the notebook for Octets and read the atrocious scenes I had written a year and a half prior. I decide to take another stab at it.

Nick Witzeman had graduated from my high school two grades ahead of me and was going into his junior year at Miami University. He is an extremely talented musician that I had always looked up to, so I send him a Facebook message asking for help on the music-making front of writing Octets. Fortunately for me, he is receptive. We meet up and begin to focus and develop the plot that I have in mind. After this first meeting, Nick asks me what my end goal in writing this musical was. I have no idea.

Fall 2016

My Freshman year begins, and I hear about the new Arts Management co-major program through an email. Figuring that a knowledge of managing the arts would be a useful skill to have, I set up a meeting with Todd Stuart. After talking with him about the program, I get to thinking: as an aspiring artists, perhaps I needed to start thinking of myself not solely as a creative, but also as a manager and producer of art.

As my first semester progresses, I spend every moment of free time working on the book and lyrics of Octets. As I finish a set of lyrics, I send them to Nick and briefly explain what I was envisioning. He transforms those lyrics into a song and sends back an audio recording. Listening to music for the lyrics brings the musical to life in a much more real and exciting way than just reading lyrics and scenes I had written. At this point I start to think that we were working on something that had potential. The idea of producing Octets at Miami starts running through my mind. But since I have no resources or know-how to do this, I decide to talk to Todd Stuart.

Spring 2017

After Todd listens to our ideas and some music that we had recorded, he is on board. He helps me set up a meeting with Julia Guichard, the chair of the theatre department. Before I met with her however, I have to finally decide what I want a first production of Octets to look like. This decision is accompanied by a near-overwhelming number of smaller decisions. Do I want to do a staged reading, or a full production? Is our script even ready for a full production? Do I want to charge tickets or make it free to the public? Do I want to hold auditions for the show, or cast it from the people that I was already familiar with? These questions would ultimately decide the identity of our production. And to find answers to them, I start implementing skills that I gained through taking Arts Management classes.

It is springtime and my Freshman year is coming to an end. I go into full managing mode, and secure many of the logistics of producing Octets. The book, lyrics, and music of Octets are all in solid places, and wouldn’t benefit from anything less than a full production. After meeting several times with Julia Guichard and other theatre department faculty, I am able to reserve Studio 88 for April 2018. I map out the timeline of the production including dates for auditions, rehearsals, and shows. I develop a production team full of students who were passionate about the pursuit of art in whatever division they specialized in. Over the summer Nick and I relentlessly edit the script and score.

Fall 2017

The summer ends, and my Sophomore year begins. The pressure of putting this production together is mounting. I started holding production team meetings. I notice that many of the conversations we have in our meetings are parallel to conversations that take place in my Arts Management courses. My team and I develop marketing plans using the same strategies that Professor Caldwell has students use in his Arts Marketing class. We discuss ways of getting both Miami students and Oxford residents interested in Octets, and I am able to use some of the research gained from my Arts Engagement class to bolster the conversation. I also write multiple proposals for funding, and in them I explain the effect that producing a musical can have on both the performers and the surrounding community, an idea central to any arts organization.

Present day

Today is a Monday, in late November of 2017. It has been two and a half years since I wrote the first couple scenes of Octets. Taking a musical from a blank page to a staged production is a long, enduring journey. At frequent points throughout the process, I have seriously questioned whether or not I had the ability to do it. Often times, I still do. Making a musical has come with a large amount of doubt, stress, and ambiguity. But it has also created a more well-rounded, ambitious, and creative person. I am still here, a thriving artist. And considering that I hold auditions for my musical tomorrow, the story is nowhere near over.

Austin Lamewona is both an aspiring writer and a student at Miami University studying Marketing and Arts Management.