Bethany Bohall – LEAP Student Highlight
Bethany Bohall is a first year online Master’s student in the LEAP program. Bethany has served as the Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts at the Tobin Fine Arts School at Saint Mary’s Hall since 2008. A former Equity Actor and teacher, Bethany has worked in arts administration for the last 23 years. Previous positions include being the Assistant Director of Education Programs at the Orange County Performing Arts Center (now Segerstrom Center for the Arts) in California, working as the Director of Artist Residency Programs for Davidson College in North Carolina, where she oversaw the Royal Shakespeare Company Residency, and being the Special Projects Manager for the Cultural Collaborative with the City of San Antonio’s Office of Cultural Affairs (now DCCD).
I had a chance to speak with Bethany and find out why she, as a seasoned art administrator with 23 years of experience under her belt, was interested in the LEAP program. In answering this question, she explained “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. In my early career I was an actress and I remember reading Backstage and flipping to the arts administration section and I thinking ‘But, how do I get to do that?'” Well, now some twenty some years later, Bethany is doing that. She remembers starting out in the field and people asking “How do you know how to do it?” “It” being arts administration work, and she recalled “I don’t know I just do, I just know.” But regardless of knowing, Bethany wanted the educational background and the opportunity to continue to grow in her understanding of the profession. Being somewhat a pioneer in online arts administration courses, Bethany received a Certification of Arts Administration from UMASS Amherst in the early 2000s and once more Master’s programs began popping up, she decided she wanted to go back for the formal degree.
One might think that someone with 23 years of experience can’t possibly still have things to learn but Bethany disagreed and explained how her coursework in LEAP 500 – Leadership in the Arts made her reflect on her own style of leadership and caused her to tweak the way in which she runs meetings, the way in which she listened. One lesson in particular – the Five Whys – really taught her to ask more questions and listen to her co-workers as opposed to providing her own opinion. Consciously practicing this technique has led to a more buy-in from co-workers as they’re coming to their own conclusions, forming their own decisions on given problems and projects.
In LEAP 650 – Arts Event Management, Bethany has been reminded that events are really about creating an experience that has a meaningful impact on the audience. She explained that “before this class, I thought it was just about selling tickets and it’s not, it’s about making a show or event more of a meaningful experience for the audience.”
Bethany will also be getting married over Spring Break this semester! The LEAP program wishes her happiness in her marriage and support throughout the rest of her degree!