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Running a Student Organization: What Arts Management Taught Me

By Ryn Bondi

Production photo from Stage Left’s production of Little Women: the Broadway Musical

Leadership in any format can be intimidating and overwhelming. Leading a large group of your immediate peers who trust you to carry out the everyday and more involved tasks of a student organization they care about— terrifying. Lucky for me, I started out as an Arts Management co-major and gained useful tools and ideas throughout my journey. As president of Stage Left, a musical theater organization on campus, arts management is incredibly applicable to my position. However, through my experience I can see how the discipline could be useful to anyone tasked with hosting meetings and events, leading and engaging community members, ensuring the continuation of an organization, and much more.

Creativity, Innovation, and Design Thinking

When hearing the word “creativity”, the first connotations are often tied to the arts, when in actuality, creativity is a part of everything we do. As a leader, you are often faced with problems big and small that arise, and sometimes require quick thinking and urgent action. Creativity is an essential piece in problem-solving and innovation assists to help build unique and thoughtful solutions. Within student organizations, we can get bogged down by following tradition and past processes that, though helpful, can often be improved upon. These concepts are wonderful because they are all skills that can be learned and strengthened, even creativity. By inviting them into your leadership style and with your team, you can cultivate an inspired atmosphere within your organization.

Financial Management and Development

Funding for student organizations is either an intimidating subject or hardly discussed depending on the nature of the group. Whether you are the treasurer or in another position on a leadership team, the monetary aspects can get confusing and disheartening. That is where financial management and development come in to simplify and reinvigorate. Thinking through and discussing the finances of your organization can often lead to helpful structure and systems in the group where there previously may not have been any. Fundraising, in addition to being a tool for raising money, can lead to different and exciting ways to engage with your members or those in the broader community. And of course, when you are able to gather funds for your organization, doors may open for those ideas you’ve had about new events or ways to carry out your org’s mission and share value with your members.

Marketing and Engagement

A vital task for any organization that hopes to continue impacting lives, is member participation. If you are in need of more members to create fulfilling experiences, or if you wish to spread the word of your group and its mission, marketing is the perfect tool. Marketing is often associated with posters, promotion, or social media, when it involves so much more. Marketing can help you learn and focus on what value your organization is creating and how you can meet the needs and wants of your (potential and current) members. Beyond that, engagement helps to build up your community of those with shared interests and create lasting connections within your organization and beyond.

Above are just a few examples of the ways my arts management education has made me a better and more well-rounded student leader. In addition to these class topics, I have taken other arts classes that have helped shape me into the person and leader I am. I have learned how to interact with and lead my peers, create welcoming and brave environments, foster positive and creative atmospheres, celebrate humanity, and so much more.

How can you grow as a leader from what you’ve learned?

Ryn Bondi is a fourth-year at Miami University from Wayne, PA. She will be completing her Marketing major, Arts Management co-major, Music Theatre minor, and Theatre Arts minor in May. Ryn loves musical theatre, arts & crafts, and her cat Nemo. She is excited to continue working with Stage Left and to be performing in Head Over Heels this semester.


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