As much of the world moved online over the last several months, arts organizations largely lost the ability to host programming as they know it. No more concerts, gallery exhibitions, theatre performances, or film festivals—at least not in person. Just a lot of time sitting at home and looking at screens.
Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) was one of many organizations forced to adapt, but they had help from Butler University senior Katherine Cackovic.
Cackovic, a Dance Arts Administration major, has spent the summer completing a virtual internship with the nonprofit tap dance organization. CHRP focuses on building a community around tap dance and other percussive art forms through education and performance. Each summer, they host Rhythm World, Chicago’s annual festival of tap and percussive dance. Cackovic was hired to work as the Rhythm World intern, but due to COVID-19, the festival has been shortened and made fully virtual.
Cackovic says the opportunity to assist with navigating the COVID-19 crisis and moving the festival to an online space has helped her develop real-time problem-solving skills that will allow her to better serve other arts organizations in the future.
Throughout 2020, arts communities around the world have been forced to cancel programming and figure out how their organizations, typically centered around gathering the community together, will function as the world continues to fight COVID-19. Staff members are collaborating to keep their organizations alive and to ensure their work stays relevant during this difficult time, bringing art into homes as a form of comfort, conversation, and entertainment.
“Since COVID-19 has caused everything to be reworked, creativity, communication, and teamwork are key,” Cackovic said. “My supervisor is the festival coordinator, and since his job has diverted from what it usually is, even he is learning new things and taking on new tasks.”
During a normal year, The Rhythm World festival occurs throughout July, featuring classes and performances at different venues around Chicago. This summer, the shortened festival will take place virtually in mid-August, with three days of classes followed by three days of performances. CHRP is working to find new opportunities unique to their online platform, such as including international teachers in the program faculty.
Cackovic is still working on the Rhythm World festival, doing registration and ticketing work, developing livestreams for virtual classes, and creating social media posts for the organization. Her work is far more technology-driven than originally anticipated, pushing her outside her comfort zone and helping her to expand her skill set.
“While it’s a strange time for internships and organizations, I think we are getting prepared to be extremely flexible and easily adaptable employees in the future,” Cackovic said. “Our class will be graduating into an unstable and uncertain world, and we will need to bring creativity to the table to navigate the tough times ahead.”
Butler’s Arts Administration major serves students interested in the arts, nonprofit organizations, and management, integrating art with business. The program focuses on offering opportunities for students to learn and develop skills through experiential learning, including internships and special projects with arts organizations.