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One class changed everything


Rebecca McBrien ’14 loves arts management, but she nearly missed out on the experience. Had it not been for one class, her life would be on a much different trajectory. As an English/communications major, “I fell into arts management by chance.”

“While looking through the course catalog, I came across an ‘Intro to Arts Management’ class that seemed fascinating,” McBrien explained. “I took it, and fell in love.” Soon after, she added a minor in arts management. She hasn’t looked back since.

This summer, McBrien is serving an internship at the Williamstown Film Festival through MCLA’s Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP), and is hard at work in preparation for the Oct. 15-18 event.

“I’m getting amazing work experience,” she said. “I’m learning from incredible arts managers and creative visionaries.”

This year’s Festival will be quite unique, McBrien explained, because it will be a nonfiction festival, and celebrate nonfiction in many forms – from documentary films to radio podcasts.

“Conversations with the makers and creators of these different forms of nonfiction will be a big part of the festival,” she continued. “Something that the Festival, as an organization, is looking toward is having events in unique spaces around Williamstown and North Adams, and I think it will be an exciting adventure to see where some of the screenings happen, this year and for those to come.”

One of her responsibilities is to get the Festival’s various venues ready for the event. “I have also been doing a lot of research for the items we will need to rent, and the logistics that come into play with moving equipment,” McBrien said.

“It has been incredible to be a part of the brainstorming that is necessary for all the planning,” she continued. “Part of what came out of those sessions was the Festival’s new name, ‘WFF Presents: Wind-Up Fest,’ as in winding up film or to get wound up about the Festival.”

During the Festival, screenings will take place in both Williamstown and North Adams, from the ’62 Center and Images Cinema to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center, with smaller – even off-beat – venues sprinkled in-between. 

McBrien decided to participate in B-HIP for a variety of reasons.

“The program is well known in the area, and offers amazing networking and professional development opportunities for its interns. I am invested in staying in the area so it was the perfect next step for me,” she said.

The opportunity to discover new artistic endeavors was a definite highlight of her B-HIP experience. “Each outing has been amazing on its own, but I so appreciate that we get to delve deeper with the talk backs. We have talked with the heads of all different departments, people who are respected leaders in their fields, from marketing to community engagement,” McBrien explained.

Perhaps most interesting, she said, is that many of those she talked with came to be in their profession – not unlike McBrien – quite by accident.

“They were artists, performers, or students, and through the choices they made and their interests, they found themselves here, both physically within the Berkshires, but also within this profession,” she said. “Getting to mentally compare and contrast each of the institutions and how they work is fascinating for me.

“I might have read about the possible differences while in school, but hearing from people within these different institutions – how they market themselves or manage their volunteers – is immensely enlightening.”