After earning her BA through the School of Theatre, Cara Peterson served as the Assistant Ticket Office Manager for the Fine Arts Department while completing her MA in Arts Administration through FSU’s Department of Art Education. As of September 2021, Cara will be promoted from Office Manager for the Leadership Development MBA program to Assistant Director of Development for the Court Theatre at the University of Chicago.
Cara credits a management class with Prof. David Rowell with shifting her focus from acting to “the business of show business” and the wisdom of Dr. Pat Villenueve for solidifying her passion for administration. Cara worked “all things front of house” at the beginning of her career, then continued part-time work at Chicago storefront theaters such as Timeline, house managing their presentation of Kill Move Paradise by James Iljames just before COVID-19 shut-downs began. Though she has been out of the arts industry full-time for nearly eight years, working from home during the pandemic inspired her to return to the arts sector again:
I am most excited to bring to this position my passion for connecting people to transformative theatre, my event planning experience, and my forged-in-theatre sense of customer service to interacting with donors, board members, patrons, and the community. After a long time, this feels like a homecoming.
Cara’s attitude toward administration during a challenging time for arts among other industries is to seize obstacles as opportunities:
In my opinion, the greatest challenge also presents the greatest opportunity, as we search to reach more global audiences in a digital age. How can theatre, which is itself a communal art form, reach people through less traditional mediums? In the same vein, I love that the industry has also embraced accommodations for mental health, emotional safety, and self-care in the form of content warnings and intimacy direction. Anything that theatres can do to facilitate the largest swath of folks experiencing live art is win.
You can congratulate Cara on her homecoming to full-time arts administration and learn more about her work on her LinkedIn page.