When Randolph-Macon College student Morgan Thomas ’19 was looking for an internship opportunity, she knew just who to turn to. She asked for advice from Music Professor Jim Doering, her academic advisor. Doering put her in touch with Douglas Love, CEO and president of the Ashland Theatre, and Maggie Latimer, communications manager at the historic Ashland landmark.
During her January Term (J-term) internship, Thomas, an arts management major (with an emphasis in music) and Black studies and women’s studies minor, had a hand in all aspects of running the busy theatre. She assisted in the office, worked the concessions counter, greeted patrons, and scanned tickets. She also helped with office tasks such as organizing, filing and mailing. The month-long internship reaffirmed her desire to have a career as a venue manager.
An “Ausome” Project
A special project, Ausome Movies, gave Thomas a new perspective into the wide variety of events the Ashland Theatre offers the community.
Ausome Movies is a free monthly movie for families with children on the autism spectrum. Parents, siblings and friends can spend a stress-free afternoon at the Theatre, as special adaptations make for sensory-friendly viewing.
“I was tasked with creating an online tour of the Theatre,” explains Thomas. “Through pictures and captions, children and their families can learn about what they can expect before they head to the Theatre.”
From Menu to Venue
Thomas loved the fact that her internship helped prepare her for graduate school and beyond.
“Through my experience at Ashland Theatre, I am better prepared to become an effective venue manager in the future,” she says. “I experienced both the customer service and administrative sides of the Theatre—from concessions to donor databases to managing a staff. I shaped my customer service and communication skills by interacting with theatre patrons and learned what it takes to oversee the operation of a busy venue. It requires a lot of patience and attention to detail in order to balance it all, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from such exceptional community leaders.”
A Unique Opportunity
Latimer says the internship was a unique opportunity because “Morgan was a part of something new in the community. As a startup, it’s crucial to be flexible when dealing with unforeseen challenges and to be able to wear many different hats when necessary. Morgan got to experience the same ‘firsts’ as the rest of the staff. She will be able to apply what she learned at the Theatre to her future career…perhaps one day we’ll all be flocking to see Morgan open her own arts venue!”
Thomas, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Diversity Council, looks forward to what the future will bring.
“I would like to do more internships through RMC, then work for a while before going to graduate school,” says Thomas, the recipient of the Jon Longaker Scholarship. “Ideally, I’d like a career as a manager or operations manager of a major venue.”
History of the Ashland Theatre
The Ashland Theatre, which originally opened in 1948, operated until the 1990s, after which it sat unused for many years. In 2013, its owners donated the Theatre to the Town of Ashland, and it operated in “pop-up” mode from 2014-2016. In 2017, a complete renovation overhaul of the Theatre began. Ashland Theatre officially opened December 26, 2018.
January Term: A Month of Discovery
Each year, Randolph-Macon College offers its popular January Term (J-term), which provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture, embark on an internship, or conduct groundbreaking research. On campus, J-term offers for-credit courses across the curriculum, making it possible for students to fully engage for one month in a single subject.