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Maura Bellmio Sheffler M.A./M.B.A. : After the Degree

Alumna Maura Bellmio Sheffler on staying on top of the changing arts fields

By Ally Van Deuren (B.F.A. Theatre, B.A. Journalism, ’15)


It seems as if Maura Bellmio Sheffler (B.A. Music, ’11 and M.A./M.B.A. Arts Management and Business, ’13) cannot get enough of SMU.

“Never stop learning,” Sheffler says. “Do whatever you can to stay at the cutting edge of your field! The learning doesn't stop just because school did.”

An accomplished violinist since she was six years old, Sheffler graduated with her undergraduate degree in music from Meadows School of the Arts in 2011. Then, she came back to get her M.A./M.B.A. in Arts Management and Business with a concentration in marketing.

Sheffler, now the community relations manager at The Arts Community Alliance (TACA), says the skills she learned in the M.B.A. program were critical, especially when combined with her experiences as a musician.

“I am currently working with TACA to launch a collaborative program for cultural organizations in partnership with a major arts and entertainment consulting firm,” she says. “Already, I've had to use skills acquired from all of my studies and experience: project management, strategic planning, sales, arts, music, an understanding of the capacity of local cultural organizations and the list goes on. I am proud to say that the program will officially launch on March 26 of this year!”

TACA distributed a record $1.3 million in grants to 46 North Texas performing arts organizations at the annual TACA Grant Awards Presentation in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre on Monday, February 3, 2014.

This was the largest grant distribution in the history of TACA, which is Dallas’ premier umbrella arts organization.

“The arts are unlike any other business,” Sheffler says. “Of course you need to balance your budget and pay your bills, but the art and the mission of your organization is the most important because it's the reason you exist as an entity. You have to always keep your mission at the top of everything you do and use all of your other skills to uphold it to the best of your abilities.”

Sheffler expressed that one of the best qualities of the program is that real arts management professionals teach the arts management courses.

“The delicate task of balancing things like high artistic quality and a budget really is an art form,” Sheffler said. “Only by learning from people who understand both the everyday and potential future intricacies of the field can you really begin to be prepared for a life in the field of arts management.”

Sheffler says that she reads arts management blogs and newsletters every day to keep up with the news in her field. She plans to attend a conference of performing arts service organizations this spring.

“The field of arts management is constantly changing,” says Sheffler. “Never think you have it all figured out because the moment you do, you're light years behind.”

Read more about the 2013 TACA grants in TheatreJones.

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