Member Spotlight: Sasha Dobson

Sasha Dobson has been the outreach coordinator for the Lied Center for Performing Arts since 2012. She serves as the primary project manager for the Master Classes for university students and community members, Pre-Performance Talks, and the Performance Fund program, which offers free tickets to youth in the community and their summer high school programs (Lied Center Triple Threat Broadway Intensive and the Lied Center Piano Academy).

What is your favorite part of your job?

Sasha DobsonALL OF IT! Seriously, I LOVE my job and enjoy every aspect of it. What I do at the Lied is mostly arts administration, but I am also an educator and artist myself, so I find it very exciting to watch our students grow as they work with our season and guest artists. I also love our Performance Fund program, which brings youth to the Lied Center. Many of the organizations we provide tickets to bring young people to the Lied who do not have the financial means to come. Seeing and hearing their joy as they experience the power of the performing arts is incredible.

In response to COVID-19, you took the Lied Center’s Triple Threat Broadway Intensive online. How did you transition the experience to digital?

Taking the Triple Treat Broadway Intensive online was definitely a daunting task. But our amazing education team at the Lied was determined to provide a quality arts experience. The pandemic was forcing many high school arts programs and performances to cancel events and we didn’t want to be another disappointing canceled event. It took our whole team to brainstorm and work through how to transition to an online format. It was a bit of a learning curve so there was a lot of research, such as asking questions of other performing arts organizations who were also making this transition and a lot of positivity and creative problem solving. The best way to do this was to focus the entire Intensive instruction on the individual student and the audition process. We had four guest Broadway artists as instructors and we utilized Zoom, divided students up into small groups, and sent them to different breakout rooms. We tried to build in some social time for the students and planned for a lot of breaks, so students did not get Zoom fatigue. We actually got a lot of great feedback from our faculty and students on the structure and organization of the Intensive! I am most proud of the fact that we had quite a few students from rural and western Nebraska participate.

In addition to your work at Lied, you’re also an actor and director. How did you get involved in theater? How has your theater background helped you in your work at Lied?

I was actually forced into theater by my mother! I was a painfully shy, awkward, asthmatic kid who was terrible at EVERYTHING! Seriously, I was terrible. My mom threw me in every activity she could think of: dance, softball, gymnastics, tennis, piano, horseback riding, etc. So one day, she told me she signed me up for a theater camp and my heart sank. I couldn’t think of anything WORSE! Long story short, it was the best thing she could have done for me. I found my tribe. I found where I belonged, and I loved that the theater was a place where EVERYONE is accepted and embraced. I went on to get my BFA in Acting from Ithaca College in New York and then my MFA in Acting from University of Nebraska—Lincoln. While working on my master’s degree, I fell in love with teaching. I discovered my love of directing about the same time as I began working in arts administration at the Lied Center. I think my appreciation for the artist’s process, understanding that collaboration is an essential component of the arts, being an advocate as to the importance and the powerful impact that the arts has are all what helps me with my job at the Lied Center.

How do you use Lied’s membership with Americans for the Arts in your work?

My membership with Americans for the Arts is essential to what I do! Americans for the Arts provides so many valuable resources and research statistics that my organization frequently uses. I also enjoy all the inspiring stories that are shared. The arts are vital, and Americans for the Arts helps all of us to be informed and inspired advocates for the arts!


Americans for the Arts Membership

This series features the many Americans for the Arts members doing transformative work for arts education, public art, advocacy, arts marketing, and more. An Americans for the Arts Membership connects you with this network of more than 6,000 arts leaders and gives you access to latest professional development and research. You can become a member by visiting us online, sending an email to membership@artsusa.org, or calling 202.371.2830.