Member Spotlight: Hannah Grube
Welcome to our Member Spotlight series, where we highlight some of the amazing work being done by ArtsBoston Member Organizations all over the Greater Boston area. Once a month, we choose a staff member from one of our Member Organizations and discuss why they do what they do and what being a part of the Boston arts and culture community means to them. If you would like to nominate someone you know (or perhaps yourself) to be considered for a Member Spotlight, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, I had the pleasure of meeting Hannah Grube, the Development Operations Manager at Handel and Haydn Society.
What is your earliest arts memory? What arts education a part of your upbringing?
My parents have always been extremely supportive of my siblings and me participating in any arts experiences, which makes a lot of sense considering they met while earning degrees in Music Education! My mother is a voice teacher and choir director, so I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. I sang in my church choir (led by my mother) until I aged out of it, and I participated in chorus and band throughout my entire formal education. I also really enjoyed art classes and calligraphy, and I had my fair share of theatre experiences in high school and college. I’ve been very fortunate to have access to many different opportunities throughout my childhood (and now!) to appreciate, participate in, and create art.
I always knew I wanted music to be a part of my life, and I dreamed of an ideal situation in which I could make it work as a career.
How did you find your way into the arts admin world?
I always knew I wanted music to be a part of my life, and I dreamed of an ideal situation in which I could make it work as a career. While working toward my Bachelor’s degree in Music Business at Lebanon Valley College, I realized that arts administration roles were a very real possibility to fulfill my dream. I had to leave my home town in Pennsylvania and relocate to Boston to facilitate the introduction to an arts administration career. I was very lucky to get a job with the Handel and Haydn Society within five months of moving to Boston, after doing a few other temp positions, leading historical tours of Cambridge, and teaching Zumba classes!
Handel and Haydn Society is one of the oldest arts ensembles in the whole country. In working in development there, what methods from that rich past and innovative strategies from the modern era do you utilize in your day-to-day work?
The Handel and Haydn Society was founded in 1815, and we are so lucky to have records and archival materials from the early years. Since its founding, the mission and makeup of the organization has grown and become much richer with tradition, history, and new experiences. H+H is a fully professional orchestra and chorus which performs concerts regularly in venues such as Boston Symphony Hall. With such a long and rich history, there is so much that makes up the mission and identity of H+H. One of the most fascinating things about the organization is that H+H premiered many musical works and performed at various very important events.
One of the partnerships that has lasted for centuries is that with the Museum of African American History. H+H played an active part in the festivities of New Year’s Day, 1863, celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation’s magnitude with music and spoken word at Boston Music Hall. During intermission, an announcement was made from the stage that the President’s Proclamation was coming in over the wires, and the hall erupted in cheering and applause; the papers confirmed the news later that night. That our organization was, and continues to be, a part of that history is so humbling for me.
Remembering where we have come from as an organization has helped shape our path, but we are lucky in this day and age to have access to technology our founders probably couldn’t imagine! So some of the innovative strategies we use include ways to communicate with our audiences and (one of the most important parts of my job) keeping records of our patrons in a database to facilitate the most relevant and personalized relationship to each person.
You also worked as a historical tour guide in Cambridge! What do you like most about performing in this role?
While I’m no longer an active tour guide for Cambridge Historical Tours, that experience was particularly wonderful for me! As a history buff with a flair for the dramatic, my role as a tour guide was a perfect balance of educator and entertainer. I also loved wearing my historical gown, of course! Incidentally, I had just moved to Boston when I started this job, so it was a great way for me to learn a lot of local history quickly. My experience as a tour guide helps me appreciate the history of Boston, its culture, its architecture, and its tourism!
What do you wish other people knew about funding in the arts?
When people hear that I work for the Handel and Haydn Society, more often than not, they assume that I am a musician for the organization. Sometimes I think people don’t realize that musical organizations need an entire team of non-musicians to keep it running. While I am a singer and do perform regularly (I’m a soprano with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus), my role with H+H is purely administrative. Another misconception about development specifically is that it’s glamorous…not so much. There is so much research and data-gathering involved. Asking for money and fancy events are such a small part of fundraising (in terms of how much time is spent on that task); the most important part is actually building relationships.
Featured image: Hannah and colleagues Brook Holladay, Daniel Berger-Jones, and Louisa Trackman at a Handel + Haydn event. Photo: Gretjen Helene.
Headshot: Jacob A. Cooper.