Georgina Javor, 32
Job: Director of programming at the Strathmore, a nonprofit arts venue for music of all genres
What she does: Javor “curates, contracts, budgets and negotiates” the programming at the Mansion at Strathmore, which means booking bands and artists for four concert series.
“It ends up being a lot of listening to a lot of different music and seeing what’s possible [to book] with the budget,” Javor says.
There’s also a lot of less glamorous work, such as managing the budget, fundraising to make that budget bigger, and, like at any desk job, sending lots and lots of email.
And don’t forget the really unglamorous parts of the job: making sure the backstage area is stocked just the way a performer wants it (no brown M&Ms!) and making sure they even make it out of the airport. “We’ve had episodes where the artist is stuck on the plane,” leaving Strathmore staff to scramble. In one instance, a tuba player from Germany was held up at Dulles. “The band couldn’t go on without him.” Luckily, there were clowns and jugglers on site who were supposed to be entertaining the audience from the floor. Javor and staffers persuaded them to come up with a half-hour skit that would buy time. “By the time it was over, the tuba player had arrived. It was one of those moments where you sweat a bit.”
Would you want her job? Diplomacy is a key element of Javor’s work, she says. “You’re balancing the needs of a lot of different constituencies, from the artist to the audience to the tech crew to the marketing department.” So being able to soothe over rough nerves is a crucial skill.
Another key consideration: It’s a lot of work. True, nobody goes into the arts expecting a cushy job, but if you want a career you can clock out of at 5 p.m., you may want to choose something else. “There’s a lot of hours involved with the job, and you have to love seeing young artists or seeing them create what they do on stage,” Javor says.
How she got this job: “I was going to make documentaries,” Javor says. But between her junior and senior year of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she interned at Strathmore. After graduation and a brief stint at WNET, New York’s PBS station, Strathmore called her back.
“I pretty much spent the next nine years working my way up from there,” Javor says.
She started in the marketing department as an assistant, was promoted to media relations manager and eventually switched over to programming. “It was closer to what I originally wanted to do. I always wanted to be a producer or director; marketing was the first way in.”
How you can get this job: You may not have an internship and nine years of hard work under your belt, but opportunities in the nonprofit arts world do exist — for those who work for them.
“I think you have to be entrepreneurial and willing to go above and beyond what your job description is,” Javor says. “I have this job description, but I could also come up with this new concert series … and [I have] the skill set to go out and create the job I want to have by showing that I want to do it.”
To get that skill set, George Mason University offers a Master of Arts in arts management, and American University offers a Master of Arts and several graduate certificates. Javor says many of her colleagues have done the American program, which is “supposed to be wonderful and very different from [other programs] around the nation.” In her case, though, she chose to get an MBA at Georgetown. “It made me smarter, a better public speaker, a better leader and a better employee.”