In 1969, an 18-year-old college student arrived in Spoleto, Italy, ready for his first day as a studente assistente at the Festival of Two Worlds. “I was in awe of the artists who were gathered to celebrate dance, music, theater, opera, and all the performing arts,” he recalls of the experience, at once starstruck by the artists gathered and inspired by the festival’s creative environment. It was the summer after his freshman year, and by the time he was 20, “I knew I wanted to run the Festival.” Fast forward 50 years, and Nigel Redden has done just that, having served as Spoleto Festival USA’s general director since 1995.
A key tenant of Spoleto’s mission is professional advancement—whether by providing career-launching opportunities for young artists or hands-on experiences for arts professionals and future administrators. Through the Festival’s apprentice program, college-age students can gain insight into producing an international arts festival, all under the guidance of professional arts administrators and technicians. Candidates for 2019 apprenticeships are being interviewed now—check out this page for details. Please note: some apprenticeship application deadlines have passed; the deadline for apprenticeship applications to the Production, Box Office, and Accounting departments has been extended to March 1.
Considering an apprenticeship or know someone who might be interested? We spoke with four current Spoleto staff members who all started their journeys in the apprentice program.
- “I apprenticed for four years, all throughout college. And when I started my job search after school, the apprenticeships really helped me get in the door for interviews with many arts organizations—everyone knows Spoleto! As a box-office assistant and patron services assistant, I learned how to use a database that more than 630 arts organizations across the world use, and that certainly looked great on my resumé. After college, I taught music at a non-profit organization in Knoxville before returning to Spoleto in my current role. I couldn’t stay away. The environment in Charleston during the Festival—you can’t get it anywhere else.” —Olivia Anderson, Assistant Box Office Manager
- “My first year as an apprentice was in 2013, and I worked as a box office assistant. I made amazing friends and I was able to see so many new things I’d never really experienced before, like opera or physical theater. Seeing my first opera, a double bill of Mese Mariano and Le Villi, has always stuck with me. Before this apprenticeship I’d been a server in the food industry, but working with Festival-goers and ticket buyers in the box office taught me new aspects of customer service when coordinating seating needs. I gained so many new skills, and it completely fueled my love of the arts. I was hired by the Festival full time in 2015, and my experiences in box office prepared me to delve deeper into the Festival’s inner workings when I moved to the artist services department.” —Allison Ross-Spang, Company Manager
- “Last season, as an artist services apprentice, I was thrown a pair of keys and asked to pick up Jon Batiste from an unknown address and drive him to his soundcheck. It was a last-minute change, and my adviser had to text me the address on the way. Finally, I found the house and knocked. To my surprise, Stephen Colbert answered. ‘Hey!’ he said. ‘Here to pick up Jon? Come on in, I’m Stephen.’ It was such a crazy moment. But it was just one of many that made the apprenticeship one of the best experiences of my entire collegiate career. I felt part of something so major. I learned the world of producing, and I’m now interested in making that my professional trajectory after I graduate from college this May. That’s something so beneficial about this apprenticeship program—you learn more about what you might want to do, or even what you don’t want to do. And here’s some advice: When you’re here, see as many shows as you possibly can, even if you don’t think you’ll like it. Being able to expand your artistic horizons is important, and Spoleto brings such a wide variety of performers. Soak it all in!” —Josh Bristow, Special Events Intern
- “Apprentices get to see performances, and my favorite in 2018 was A.I.M, a contemporary dance group based in New York. As an artist services apprentice, I also helped coordinate a champagne toast with the dancers, which highlighted the whole experience. The apprenticeship allowed me to be on my feet—and each day was so different, which kept things fresh. It took a little getting used to, because even though we’d have a set schedule, the timing and actions would rarely be exact because of the Festival’s organic nature. You can’t anticipate an artist fainting during a rehearsal, but you have to be prepared for anything! It’s crucial to learn everything you can about the incoming artists, pay attention to even the littlest detail, and be confident in your ability to perform your assigned tasks. Although the apprenticeships might seem overwhelming at times, there are plenty of people behind you to help.” —Jess Coleman, Artist Services Assistant