Interview with QMU graduate: Danna Solomon
Danna Solomon, 27, is from Millburn, New Jersey, USA. She graduated with an MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management from QMU in 2016.
How did you find out about QMU?
“I had the thought that I would like to study in Edinburgh, because the Edinburgh Fringe is sort of a pilgrimage destination for fringe theatre producers in the US. I found out about this particular program at QMU online, from the Association of Arts Administration Educators in the US.”
Why did you choose QMU and Edinburgh?
“I did a year of my undergraduate degree at University College London. I really enjoyed living there, but I decided I wanted to live in a smaller, friendlier city during my postgraduate studies.
“Edinburgh is famous in theatre circles because of the festivals, so I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I don't think I fully grasped it at the time I was making my decision, but living in Scotland is wildly different from living in England, and much better suited to my personality I think.”
What did you like best about living in Edinburgh?
“Edinburgh is hands down the most beautiful place I've ever lived. There's something incredibly special and inspiring about walking out the front door of your flat and looking around at the gorgeous landscape and architecture.”
Favourite Edinburgh attraction?
“I didn't get the chance to climb Arthur's Seat until late in my time in Edinburgh, which was a mistake. The views from all the way up are just breathtaking. In terms of visitor attractions, I Iove all the theatres! A trip to Edinburgh without a trip to any theatre is incomplete in my opinion. I also loved the collection at the Portrait Gallery and exhibitions at the Royal Scottish Academy.”
Where in Edinburgh did you live? What did you like about it?
“I lived in Tollcross, which is a great neighbourhood. I enjoyed the proximity to the Meadows and the canals, there are great restaurants in Bruntsfield, it's right by three remarkable theatres, and there is great vintage shopping. I think if I could do it over again I would live in Leith, because it would have been more convenient for my job and my internship at Out of the Blue - an arts and education trust based in Edinburgh.
“As part of my internship with Out of the Blue, I updated and maintained the organisation's Artist Directory and started a Featured Artist series for which I interviewed individual artists about their work and how having studio space at Out of the Blue has impacted their careers. The position was unpaid, but I was able to use the experience to fill the Experiential Learning requirement for my degree. My colleagues at Out of the Blue were excellent mentors for me and provided one of my references for the job I have now.”
What did you enjoy most about studying at QMU?
"It gave me an opportunity to do research and delve into topics I wouldn't have had a chance to engage with otherwise, which reminded me how much I really enjoy research, and how I would like for scholarship, research and writing to continue being a part of my life and my career as they progress."
Top tips for other US students?
“Spend a lot of time in the library but don't spend ALL your time in the library! Make sure you see Scotland because it's a magical country. Learning isn't only about reading - if you're going abroad to study, take the opportunity to broaden your perspective in other ways as well, because the people have just as much to teach you as the books, especially when you're doing a cultural degree.”
“I’m now working as a Booking Manager at Boston Circus Guild in the US. I act as a liaison between clients (corporations, nonprofits, social events, venues and event planners) and performers (circus performers, musicians, and artists), and serve as the primary point person on all aspects of coordinating entertainment for individual events.
“I also engage in new business development, proactively developing interdisciplinary collaborations with other cultural organisations and acquiring new clients. I serve as artist manager for performers at booked events and also serve on the leadership team for the Guild, consulting on budget creation, hiring, producing original shows and strategic planning.”
How do you think your QMU degree helped kick start your career?
“Studying in Edinburgh certainly made my CV stand out during my most recent round of job applications, and aside from that, this degree gave me a substantial skill base and vocabulary to tackle client-facing work in the arts.
“I did this degree because I was looking to pivot my career from administration and finance into artist management, which is exactly what I've started to do. I also feel I have the skills and qualifications to now take on freelance project management contracts for arts organisations and festivals.
“I'm not convinced any of the other degree programmes I was considering would have prepared me as well as QMU and Edinburgh's festival environment did for this next stage in my career. The MA Arts, Festival & Cultural Management at QMU really succeeded in broadening my perspective and putting me in a mindset to move forward as an arts professional, and for that I am very grateful.”
MA Arts, Festival & Cultural Management
For more information on MA Arts, Festival & Cultural Management and QMU, visit our course page.
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