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Gaining Organization and Structure Through RAMP with Cowtown Opera Company ED, Bethany Yon

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Bethany Yon is the Executive Director of Cowtown Opera Company. A passionate leader and manager, Bethany has led in a wide array of administrative and business-centered capacities.

With a love for the Cowtown Opera Company community and message at the center of her endeavors as Executive Director, Bethany strives to lead Cowtown to and through new and excited stages of advancement, growth, development and recognition.

RF: How does being an artist as well as an administrative executive help you in your role at Cowtown Opera?

BY: I find that working for the company as well as being an artist of the company actually helps me in my understanding of what the company does, what our goals are and also how to work with our artists. It has been interesting to see it from both perspectives. In my role I am more on the business administration and operational side of things. As a singer, it allows me to dig into how we work with our singers, what we choose, and how we put everything together knowing what I know about singing. I do still sing with the company so whenever we are doing volunteer events, sponsored events often I will help out at these events which helps me relate my artistry to my position as an administrator.

RF: How did the RAMP program facilitate you in your position as Executive Director?

BY: When I began RAMP, I had been in my position for 2 months so it was really great to connect with other arts administrators and to realize we are all sort of in it together. We were able to address or prepare myself to address challenges I hadn’t seen yet. It was a great time for me to be doing the course because there weren’t any old habits or perplexing issues. It was all fresh because I was going through everything in my first season. It was nice to have the support of the community of colleagues, as well as the instructors and the speakers.

As I started to come upon the things I learned from RAMP throughout the year where I was experiencing everything in the position for the first time, it was nice to have the support. A really great part of it was the camaraderie and the collegial interaction and being able to bounce things off other classmates which really helped form new relationships. I thought this interaction was really cool for the greater community so when we left the program a lot of us were and still are collaborating on projects and personally as a support system.

We covered a lot of information that you don’t normally have the time to tackle in terms of planning for and thinking a way around how to approach the issues or certain complications that are typical I guess of what we do as arts administrators.

Becoming a good arts administrator is really hard to do on your own. Having RAMP allowed us to hyper-focus on how to support our organizations and how to get better at supporting our organizations was a really cool opportunity to have.

What we learned from the actual content, especially being new in my position, exploring all the perspectives of the arts industry and all we have to deal with because we are varied, everyday truly is different, being able to plan for, anticipate for as well as trouble shoot was really beneficial.

RF: Please share with us your direction and vision for your Action Learning Project.

BY: I focused on policies and procedures. This is not the most exciting thing to spend 8 months on but it was something I felt was really important for our organization because not only was I transitioning into the position but the whole organization was transitioning, the board was trying to step away from a fully working board to more of a district governance board. I was taking over from someone but the position itself was brand new so I was absorbing a position but also taking on new responsibilities that had never been introduced to the company before. There was a lot of change going on and because our organization ran on the passion of volunteers for a really long time we were at a point where no one had had the time to just stop and formalize anything so we didn’t have any policies or procedures in place which is why I thought focusing on policies and procedures would be good for us at this time.

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