Featured Alumna – Alison Beyrle
Posted: January 27, 2015 at 5:12 pm, Last Updated: March 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm
Master of Arts in Arts Management, Fall 2014
Development Director at Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), a Washington, D.C.-based arts education nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people to realize the power of their own voices through playwriting.
“My first love will always be theatre, specifically backstage work. I love the excitement and energy of working on a production, and the relationships you develop working on a show.”
What inspires you as an arts leader?
Working for an organization or a cause that I am passionate about, and working with a team (coworkers, other artists, even friends) who are similarly passionate about the work.
There are also few things more inspiring than seeing a kid light up when they first see a play, or create art. At YPT, we produce plays written by our students with professional actors, and that moment when a student sees something they wrote brought to life onstage always reinforces to me why we do what we do.
What specific area of arts management is your focus?
Development! I didn’t realize development/fundraising was a viable career in the arts until I essentially fell into it, but I love the challenge and strategy involved in fundraising for a nonprofit. And strange as it sounds, I really enjoy writing grants.
Why did you choose to study arts management at George Mason University?
I first heard about the Mason program through someone in my department at the Kennedy Center who had just completed the program. I knew I wanted to go back to school for arts management, and the more I learned about the program, the more it seemed like a perfect fit: flexible for people working full-time, a wide range of course options, and good professors.
How are you applying the skills you learned in the program to your professional career?
My coursework at George Mason definitely helped me grow in my job. During my time at Mason I went from Development Associate to Development Director, and I was able to bring things that I learned in my coursework beyond development to my work: from how to write a press release to strategies for working with boards to how to read a Form 990. It also helped me gain confidence as a manager in our arts administration team, and when representing YPT at public events, because you do a lot of presentations in your courses!
What was your capstone research?
Funding Challenges for Community-Based, Social Justice-Oriented Arts Organizations
My capstone examined the unique funding challenges faced by small, community-based organizations that use the arts to achieve social justice outcomes, and strategies they have used to sustain their work. By looking at three community-based arts education nonprofits that began with budgets under $100,000 and grew to become larger, sustaining organizations, my paper provides insight into how similar organizations might best approach fundraising and resource development towards the greatest long-term impact.
What led you to explore this topic?
I’ve spent the last 4+ years fundraising for a “small, community-based, social justice-oriented” arts nonprofit, so I’m very familiar with the barriers to funding for these organizations, and I was interested in seeing how other organizations deal with these challenges.
I was also inspired by the Arts Policy course at Mason, specifically the role of the arts in society today and the difference between the concept of cultural democracy and cultural equity. Discussing this topic helped put a more concrete definition to an area I was already interested in — the arts as a tool for social justice — and I wanted my capstone to focus on organizations doing this kind of work.
Alison Beyrle is an arts manager with experience in fundraising, arts education and production. She currently serves as the Development Director at Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), the only professional theater in Washington, D.C., dedicated entirely to arts education. At YPT, she oversees all aspects of development, including institutional and individual giving, donor relations, special events, fundraising strategy and special campaigns. She also works with DC-based Pointless Theatre Company as their Development Director. Alison is also a stage manager and has worked with numerous DC arts organizations in both administrative and production capacities, including Synetic Theater, Adventure Theatre, New Galaxy Theatre Group and the Source Festival. Prior to joining YPT, she interned in two offices within the Kennedy Center’s Education Department, where she helped coordinate several major events including the American College Theater Festival. In 2008, she worked as an on-set production assistant with NuImage Studios for the film Train (Lionsgate) in Sofia, Bulgaria. Alison received her BA from Kenyon College in Drama with distinction, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and her MA in Arts Management from George Mason University.