Meet Samantha Cooke, Arts Management Master’s Candidate

Posted: September 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm, Last Updated: October 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Samantha Cooke

Master’s candidate in George Mason University’s Arts Management Program
Department Assistant, Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University

What inspires you as an arts leader?

Action. Seeing art, art makers, and art supporters in action. Too often we take for granted that art and artists are all around us. I want to help open peoples’ eyes to this prospect, to engage people in art in ways they may not have considered before. Museums are great and necessary but art isn’t, nor should it be, confined to a museum. I want to get people looking for art everywhere.

What specific area of arts management is your focus?

I really enjoy working with non-profits. My background and my interests are in the visual arts. I am very interested in small arts organizations. I would love to be a consultant for new and growing arts organizations!

What topics in the arts are you most passionate about and why?

This question is hard because as I take more courses I become passionate about almost every topic! At first I fell in love with fundraising, then I fell in love with potentially doing some gallery work. Today, my focus is on non-profits and working closely with a board. I am very passionate about developing/improving missions and strategic planning. I have always been an ‘ideas’ person and work well with groups brainstorming ideas.

What did you do before you came to Mason?

I have actually worked on and off for Mason and Mason affiliated units for a decade. While doing my undergraduate degree in Interior Design at Marymount University, I worked part-time for the Math Department. After graduation, I moved into the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science (GGS). I fell in love with the mission of GGS but had to find full-time work. I worked for a year in a medical non-profit in Bethesda, MD and gladly returned to GGS in 2014.

Where did you do your internship?

I have not done my internship for this program yet. And truthfully, I have not started looking into it yet either. My undergraduate internship was with Ethan Allen. It was an interesting insight into the consumer/retailer relationship of the residential design world and how superficial it can be. I did not enjoy it.

What is an average day like for you?

My dog, Marlin, wakes me up every morning at 6AM on the dot. I usually don’t even bother setting an alarm anymore. We go for a walk, I get ready. Coffee is a must. I run or bike to work as often as possible. Most days I work from 8AM-5PM. I also have two part-time jobs. On my free evenings which happen once a week if I’m lucky, I go straight home and spend the evening with Marlin. Eat. Sleep. Repeat!

Why did you choose to study at George Mason University?

GMU has it all! The obvious reason is that I work here so it makes sense to also study here. Aside from convenience, Mason has amazing programs. You can’t beat the location to the city and the arts.

How are you applying the skills you learned in the program to your professional career?

Every day I am learning more skills on how to be a more efficient and productive worker and manager.

What is the most important thing you have learned at Mason?

I honestly can’t pick out one, singular thing. I learn so much every day and it’s all important, at least in my mind. If I had to pick, I would say the biggest take away is relationship building and networking. You never know who you are going to meet and what their connections will be. Be positive and work ethically always and you will go far.

What advice would you give to a new student or someone considering the program?

NETWORK! Make friends. Even before applying, do your research. Read the faculty profiles online to get a sense of what interests the faculty. You cannot, and should not, do this program alone. I highly encourage all prospective students to align themselves with faculty mentors and students farther along in the program. It takes a village!

About Samantha

Sam Cooke is in her second year of the Arts Management program at George Mason University. She works full-time at Mason in the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science (GGS). Her educational background is in Interior Design but her professional work has been centered in the sciences. She worked for a year with a medical non-profit organization in Bethesda, MD before taking her current position at Mason in the College of Science. Although she does not currently work in the arts, her position as Department Assistant affords her the opportunity to do a considerable amount of event planning. Over the past year, she has organized over 15 events for her department including their annual Geo Awareness Week line up of events, Convocation Awards Ceremony, and a handful of small student oriented events. Most notably over the last six months, Sam has been working with federal agencies tied to GGS to compose a museum quality display area within her department cataloging the rich history of geoinformation sciences. Sam is looking forward to developing more programming for AMGT through her role as Special Programs Chair with the Graduate Arts Management Society.