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The Rhythm of Management: How Arts Management Affected my Season with Rhythm X

January 8, 2018

 

 

During my freshman year at Miami I participated in a drumline that competed in World Guard International (WGI) called Rhythm X. For the unfamiliar, WGI is a non-profit organization that hosts competitions for indoor color guard, drumline, and winds across the world. I had participated in WGI events since I was a freshman in my high school indoor drumline. Those events and the activity of indoor drumline had a big impact on me as a high schooler, so I knew I would want to stay active in this activity in college.

 

Rhythm X, like all independent (not part of a high school) drumlines, is a non-profit arts organization, which means that part of its income comes from donations. As a member, I participated in an organization wide effort that involved members reaching out to friends and family members for donations, along with coordinated pushes on all social media accounts surrounding “Giving Tuesday”. At the time, I took for granted that all of this work just happened around me, but now I can see the effort and the time that was put in by many people to ensure that Rhythm X had a strong donation campaign.

 

One unique challenge that Rhythm X faces, that most non-profits may not, is finding facilities to rehearse in every weekend. Since Rhythm X needs a rather large space to rehearse in, at the least an entire gym, it needed to make partnerships with high schools around the Indianapolis and Dayton areas in order to make sure that the members had a place to be every weekend. I didn’t think much about this when I was a member, but I see now that this issue required constant attention and effort to make sure that the transition between weekend to weekend was as smooth as possible and everybody knew where they needed to go.

 

Another challenge that had to be overcome because of the nature of the organization was the transporting of equipment every weekend. Rhythm X owns quite a lot of musical instruments, from marching snare drums, quads, and bass drums to glockenspiels, vibraphones, and giant 5-octave marimbas. These instruments needed to be transported from where they are stored to the place we were rehearsing every weekend, which often was many hours away. This required two semis to be driven to each location every weekend, unloaded, and then loaded back up at the end of the weekend. Personally, even trying to coordinate dinner with more than one person is hard for me, so I can’t even imagine the logistics and scheduling of making sure two semis full of expensive equipment arrive where they need to every weekend.

 

When I participated in Rhythm X I didn’t think at all about the amount of arts management that went on behind the scenes. I simply showed up to where I needed to be every weekend, practiced and performed with my friends, and went home. Looking back now after studying in the Arts Management program at Miami, I can see that there were a lot more gears turning behind the scenes than I thought. If any single piece had fallen out of place, it could have ruined a weekend or the whole season depending on the severity of the mistake. Luckily, the admin team at Rhythm X had no such misfortunes, and I enjoyed a stress free season performing music with my friends.

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