Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

Megan (Bell) Schmoll

Graduating Class (Year): 2013

What you are up to now? I’m the Assistant Director of Individual Giving at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the official nonprofit partner to the nation’s only National Park for the performing arts outside of Washington, DC. I oversee the Encore Circle program, managing a portfolio of 550 donors who each give $4,000 - $25,000 annually to support our arts and education programs.

What led you into arts management? A lifetime and a waistline ago, I was a semi-professional ballet dancer having trained as a full-time student in residence at Kirov Academy of Ballet and North Carolina School for the Arts. After a career ending growth spurt and hanging up my pointe shoes, I switched gears and studied Art History and French at Wake Forest University. My senior year, I took a Management in the Visual Arts course with a practicum in New York, NY and was delighted to have stumbled upon a career path that would enable me to continue fostering my love for both the performing and visual arts. 

Most memorable experience in the Program? I loved the opportunity to peek behind the curtains at various arts organizations through the Program’s many field trips, especially when they involved an international perspective. Whether in Canada at the Shaw Festival Theatre or during our Summer Study Abroad in Singapore, we had so much to learn from our expert colleagues in the field. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention our trip to Washington, DC for Museums Advocacy Day – that’s when I fell in love with the city which ultimately led to my career here.  

What do you wish you knew then that you know now? There’s a popular saying about no effort ever being wasted and I’ve found that to be true in my career since the Program. Even the trying times eventually amount to good when life comes full circle.

Advice for current/prospective students? The Program will equip you with the wisdom you need to succeed long-term in arts management, but in the short-term it’s wise to also build your resume with experience in the field through internships and volunteering. While a deep understanding of the Aesthetic Contract will serve you well, it cannot teach you some of the practical day-to-day tips that are often best learned on the job. 

From an alum...

I loved the opportunity to peek behind the curtains at various arts organizations through the Program’s many field trips, especially when they involved an international perspective. 

Megan Schmoll.