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Professional Development: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By José Rincón, Artistic Services Manager
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Original Content12/1/2010

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The holidays are upon us and if you are wondering what to get the singer, composer, librettist, director or designer on your gift list, put down the Hickory Farms catalog and consider giving a gift that is not only thoughtful but useful, too. If you are an artist yourself, why not spend some of the cash you get from grandma on a membership or subscription to a service organization that will help you advance your career? Here are several member- or subscription-based organizations that offer an array of programs and resources for creative artists:
  • OPERA America — this one is obvious, but we sincerely hope you will continue your membership with OPERA America into the New Year. We are here to serve you — OPERA America supports both artists and arts administrators through research publications, regional workshops and the annual Opera Conference — the largest gathering of opera stakeholders in North America.

    Members have access to an online archive of over 300 articles, podcasts and webinars on topics of interest to all types of opera artists. Opera Source lists information on thousands of opportunities in the opera field, including upcoming deadlines and auditions. Listservs and discussion forums allow members to seek advice from colleagues around the world, share best practices and collaborate on new projects.

    Members receive discounts on services from membership partners such as Club Quarters, Hertz Car Rental and Staples in addition to discounted registration for OPERA America programs such as Making Connections, regional workshops and Opera Conference.

    If you are an Opera Source member, consider upgrading to an Individual Membership to receive Opera America magazine among a number of other benefits like free a Associate Membership from Fractured Atlas where you can enroll in low-cost health insurance … HEALTH INSURANCE!
  • The American Music Center (AMC) assists composers, performers and other allied constituents who are dedicated to enriching the American music canon. Members gain visibility through listings in the AMC Online Library and can apply for funding to help defray the costs of premiere performances.
  • For artists who are interested in creating new works using the latest in electronic media, consider a Harvestworks membership. Benefits include discounts on studios and classes where members learn about innovations in audio/visual technologies.
  • Theatre Communications Group (TCG) offers members networking opportunities through conferences and other professional development events around the country. Directors and librettists can benefit from a subscription to American Theatre, TCG's monthly magazine containing five complete play scripts and performance schedules for hundreds of theaters nationwide.
  • USITT provides theatrical designers and other technical/production folk with a variety of services such as certification exams, master classes, industry publications and discounts at makeup and fabric supply stores. Members can attend USITT's annual conference to connect with colleagues and learn about advancement in the field.
  • Designed to help singers navigate through the myriad career opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, YAP Tracker is the most comprehensive listing of auditions, competitions and training programs available today. Members create their own unique profiles that allow them to target relevant opportunities and receive periodic e-mail reminders of upcoming deadlines.

For many artists, disposable income is in short supply and extra funds are more likely to be put toward an audition fee or new headshots than a seminar on strategic planning. So whether you are trimming a tree, lighting a menorah, setting up an aluminum pole or just feeling generous this holiday season, give the artist in your life (or yourself) the gift that always fits and never goes out of style — professional development!
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