Meet Devan Costello-Mays, Arts Management Master’s Candidate

Posted: November 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm, Last Updated: November 15, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Devan Costello-Mays

Master’s candidate in George Mason University’s Arts Management Program
Operations Specialist, Apple 

What specific area of arts management is your focus?

I am primarily focused on the performing arts, and more specifically orchestral music. I started playing piano in third grade and then switched to strings in fifth grade. Music, viola, and orchestra have always been a part of my life and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without them.

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

I am most passionate about building and sustaining audience engagement and loyalty for arts organizations through meaningful interactions with people on social media and through website design. More and more people are spending time in the digital world and just this October mobile internet usage just surpassed desktop internet usage for the first time. It is imperative for arts organizations to meet people where they are, physically and digitally in order to sustain future audiences.

I am also passionate about international arts management. Just this summer I traveled to London and Dublin with my AMGT colleagues to experience the arts in a different culture as well as meet with arts management professionals to understand how things work differently abroad. It was an eye-opening and artistically enriching experience that has given me fresh new ideas to try and share with US nonprofits.

What did you do before you came to Mason?

Before I came to Mason, I was working on my Masters of Music Performance at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. While I was there, my Graduate Assistantship was to be the Marketing Assistant for the Arts. This position included a lot of project management, over 400 jobs annually, and coordinating with staff in the College of Music, the School of Art, and the Department of Theater and Film, and Creative Writing.

Where did you do your internship?

I did my internship in the Office of Development for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

What is an average day like for you?

Between being in graduate school and working in retail it is pretty difficult to have an “average” day because things change all the time. Typically, I wake up early to go to work and hopefully get ahead of traffic since I currently live in Woodbridge, work at Apple usually from 9 am to 3 or 4 p.m. (depending on classes) and then go to class at GMU in the evening. And then on other days I’ll only have class or work.

Why did you choose to study at George Mason University?

I choose Mason because of the practical approach of their Arts Management program. When I was comparing Mason with other universities, I noticed that other institutions have a very theoretical approach to arts management. While that is useful in some instances, I wanted a program that would give me hands-on experience and the ability to build out my portfolio through course projects.

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

Networking is more important than any course you could take. The arts are people centric and requires cooperation and collaboration every single day. By networking with colleagues, professors and established professionals I can help set myself up for success later down the road.

Who would you recommend this program and why?

I would recommend this program to musicians, artists, performers or writers who are looking to balance out the creative side of their endeavors with the practical and management side of the arts. This brings to mind the Twix candy commercial with each side saying they’re better than one another. Both sides are important and in this day and age that is more true for the arts than ever before. You need to be able to be creative and artistic while balancing that with an arts manager’s perspective. This program has helped me bolster up my foundation in the practical elements of arts management that will then enable me to be a better musician and artist in the future.


About Devan

Devan Costello-Mays received her Masters of Music Performance from Bowling Green State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Minor in Music Industry, with a focus on arts management, from James Madison University. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Arts Management at George Mason University and is the current Secretary of the Graduate Arts Management Society (GAMS). When she is not in class, Ms. Costello-Mays can be found working as an Operations Specialist for Apple at the Georgetown and Pentagon City locations. In addition to courses at GMU and working at Apple, Ms. Costello-Mays likes to perform locally whenever possible. When not in class, at work, or performing Ms. Costello-Mays enjoys knitting, swimming, baking, decorating cupcakes, and spoiling her cat Cormick.