How arts-minded students are finding niche careers in Toronto culture

Sponsored feature: presented by Humber x NOW Digital Residency

A culture critic with a background in film, Teya Zuzek never anticipated she’d get flown out to Calgary to help organize a national symposium for the Canadian Society of Decorative Arts.

Today, Zuzek works as event operations coordinator at Artscape Gibraltar Point where she organizes and coordinates events while also managing finances, staff and social media. In 2017, she completed the Arts Administration and Cultural Management graduate certificate program at Humber.

After graduating from the University of Toronto in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in history and cinema studies, Zuzek felt she wanted to work in the arts but had a difficult time making her break beyond volunteer work. She worked at a law firm and freelanced as a writer before hearing about the program from a friend.

“I always thought that I would do my career in film but doing the program really opened my eyes to all the different opportunities that are available in our sector.”

As part of the program’s work placements, Zuzek applied for internships, hoping to obtain one in film but she was also open to other opportunities. She ended interning at Artscape Gibraltar Point on the scenic Toronto Island which unfortunately flooded that year – which allowed her to gain invaluable experience in crisis management.

“I’m happy where I am,” says Zuzek. “If you had told me a year ago I’d be working on Toronto Island doing the event’s operations out there and helping the artist community, I would have said ‘No way!’ But this Humber program really opened doors for a lot of things for me.”

After completing her internship, she was hired on a full-time basis and is now in the process of recruiting her own intern from the Arts Administration and Cultural Management program.

Program Director Anne Frost has worked with Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray, Alberta and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and Youth and Music Canada in Toronto. She says “the program prepares graduates to work running, managing and administering in any arts organization that you could think of, from the commercial end of things at Ed Mirvish Theatre and auction houses all the way through to the whole not-for-profit sector, including Stratford and Shaw and the Museum of Contemporary Art.”

Frost gets animated when discussing the successful students who have emerged from her program. She’s witnessed graduates successfully find work within the heritage sector, art councils and government bodies.

“It’s a pretty good gig running a program like this because I get to see people really happy when they leave,” says Frost. “I love introducing people to other people, and I know that when they meet each other that something’s going to go boom!

Frost likes to teach students from both the micro and macro perspectives, and the topics can range from issues of diversity, accessibility and cultural policy to equity, HR and planning. She says the most important part of her program is financial management and teaching people how to balance budgets, find resources and ensure artists get paid.

“When I’m talking to my students, I know that in two years they’re going to be my peers and hire me for consulting jobs and ask me for job references, so I need people who can manage money, people and time”.

Zuzek says the program took her experience in arts administration from 70 per cent to 100, but her favourite part of the program is the people. “Everybody has a different passion, everybody has a different background and to this day, I keep in contact with a lot of people from the program. It’s just great to be connected with the sector as a whole.”

Visit the Humber x NOW Digital Residency to learn more.

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