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So you want to… produce new theatre.

Have resumes and cover letters become your (least) favorite new hobby? Times are tough out there for recent graduates and young professionals – competition is fierce and you can’t be an intern forever.  In our new blog series, So you want to…, our museum staff offers advice and inspiration for pursuing an arts career. Don’t worry– all those applications will eventually turn into an interview!

Christopher Hibma serves as the Producing Director of Sundance Institute Theatre Program, where he coordinates Theatre Labs in Florida, Wyoming, and Utah, as well as at MASS MoCA and on Governors Island in New York Harbor. His work has supported numerous writers and the creative teams of Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, and Grey Gardens. Previously, Hibma worked for Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Boychoir, and on the directing staffs of Broadway’s The Lion King and numerous productions at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

What’s the best career advice you ever received?

I don’t recall who I received this advice from, but I believe the best advice I received is that relationships matter. It’s easy to maintain work relationships when everyone gets along. It’s a much harder task to do so with individuals who drive you crazy. But, I’ve found that people (whether you meet them outside of work or in your professional life) really just want to feel heard. Listening is an active tool toward maintaining healthy relationships.

How would you encourage recent graduates to make the most of internship experiences?

I always tell people, “Ask for what you want.” I find that when you’re specific about what your hopes and dreams are, those hopes and dreams are more likely to become a reality. You have to be clear about your intentions and be brave. Individuals who are more established in their chosen professions are quite open to offering their support when they’re able. Ask for a meeting with the founder of your institution. Take your boss out to lunch. Be kind and always open to doing anything asked of you.

What was a formative art experience for you as a young person?

I was in Oberammergau, Germany, in 2000, to witness the day-long Passion Play that is produced once every decade in that mountain village. I didn’t much enjoy the production, but Robert Wilson’s 14 Stations (set at MASS MoCA in this video) was set up in an adjacent area. This wild take on the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross was transformational for me. I loved his “out of the box” representation of a very traditional Christian expression (plus I’m really drawn to Shaker/Puritan aesthetics). I understand the installation was subsequently at MASS MoCA in 2003. I wish I had seen it here!


What is one of your current social media or web obsessions?

I got an iPad this year and I’m kind of obsessed with apps. I loved how innovative media companies were during the Election Cycle with their apps tracking voting.

Fill in the blank: The future of the arts depends on visionary thinking.

Do you have questions for next week’s So you want to…? Tweet them @MASS_MoCA !

Posted December 11, 2012 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Interns, Theater
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So you want to… build a museum.

Have resumes and cover letters become your (least) favorite new hobby? Times are tough out there for recent graduates and young professionals – competition is fierce and you can’t be an intern forever.  In our new blog series, So you want to…, our museum staff offers advice and inspiration for pursuing an arts career. Don’t worry– all those applications will eventually turn into an interview!

A graduate of Williams College, Joe Thompson received an MA in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. Thompson spearheaded the creation of MASS MoCA, from its beginnings in 1987 to its realization in 1999. As Director, his vision of MASS MoCA as an open laboratory for both artists and visitors expanded the institution from its initial mission as a venue for the display of contemporary visual works to a center that encompasses and erases the traditional line between the visual and performing arts.