Name: Natalia Sanders, '10
Major: Music, Leadership Studies
Minor: Latin American and Iberian studies
Activities: University Orchestra - violin
Special Events Chair for Campus Activities Board
Umoja Gospel Choir
University Cheerleader

So tell me about where you’re interning.

I’m doing a ten-week internship at the Manhattan New Music Project, a nonprofit with two corresponding missions: putting on musical performances around the city and providing music education to the local community. On the performance side, the music can be anything from jazz to improvisation. The goal is just to share new music with different kinds of audiences. On the educational side, we bring teaching artists to public schools and sponsor productions of shows starring the students.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

My official title is Arts Management Intern. So far I’ve had really varied responsibilities, mostly centered on marketing and outreach. The first week I was here we were putting on three shows, so it was pretty hectic! But it definitely got me into the swing of things as far as helping to plan the shows. When we have something upcoming, I’ll send press releases to journalists and help with some of the details that go into event planning.

On a more daily basis, I do research on nonprofits similar to ours. Recently, I’ve been looking at the Web sites of different organizations, since we are about to go through a Web redesign. I also do some customer relations management, which basically involves monitoring Web site visits to find out who our main audience is. I’ve also analyzed surveys taken by our teaching artists, to measure the kind of progress being made in the schools. 

How’d you land the gig?

I started looking for internships during the spring semester. I knew I wanted to be in New York, and I wanted to do something connected to the arts. In my research, I found the Arts & Business Council of New York, which is a nonprofit that sponsors arts organizations around the city. They accept 11 summer interns and place them at different sites around the city, which is how I was placed with the Manhattan New Music Project.

It’s great to be able to network with the 11 other interns. We have weekly meetings and sometimes go to each other’s sites for a couple of hours to see what work is like at different organizations. We’ve also been matched with mentors who work in the corporate world. My mentor is Lisa Frigand who is the manager of special projects and public affairs at Con Edison and is the vice-chair of the board of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

How has having a mentor contributed to your experience in New York this summer?

Having a mentor has been such a valuable part of this experience. We meet once or twice a week to talk about what I’m doing as well as the projects she’s working on. Lisa’s been a great help—presenting me with networking opportunities. She is very involved with the Arts & Business Council of New York, so she gets tickets to all kinds of events, like concerts and opening nights. We went to the Latina International Theatre Festival together and to a party for the producer of the show Ugly Betty. It’s been really cool going to these kinds of events in New York and seeing that side of the arts world.

What’s been your favorite part of working at the Manhattan New Music Project?

I love working with the kids in the public schools. In the beginning of the summer, we funded a bilingual production of The Wizard of Oz, and it was really great to interact with the kids while setting up for the show. I love being a part of something like this because it gives these kids a chance to be in the spotlight—a chance that they would probably not get otherwise.

On the performance side of things, my favorite part of the experience is probably the diversity of events that I’ve been able to help plan and attend, whether it’s an exhibit at the Chelsea Art Museum, an African drumming performance or an interactive music festival that uses Wii consoles to let disabled children play instruments.

The summer’s over and you’re back at Richmond. In an ideal world, what will you have gotten out of the internship experience? Where do you see yourself working after you graduate?

First off, I’d definitely like to take a couple of arts management courses when I get back to school. I really like the work I’ve been doing here, though I’m not sure if it’s exactly what I see myself doing after graduation. I’ve learned so much about marketing and the arts, which will be valuable knowledge no matter what I ultimately pursue. I know for sure that I want to incorporate music into whatever career I choose.