‘Something very special’ Marketing director at Arts Center wears many different hats

Published 6:55 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

“Because I work for a non-profit, every day is different,” says Kate Snyder. And she loves that about the Community Arts Center.

Kate became CAC’s marketing and development director four years ago. Officially, she says, most of what she does is get the word out about the center’s upcoming events, classes and keeping donors informed, as well as letting the community know why it needs to support CAC.

Kate Snyder sits under the big tree painted on the wall inside Lisi’s Art Lab at the Community Arts Center. The room, which features arts and crafts for kids, is one of her favorite places at work.

“I spend a lot of time on my computer — managing social media posts, working on email blasts, handling registration for classes, writing grants and thank-yous, processing donations.”

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When people make donations, Snyder records everything on the contribution. There are donor appreciation events she has helped handle, gallery talks she must get head-counts for …

“When I started here, I recognized we needed a pretty steady stream of good pictures to really market this place. So I spend a lot of time with my camera, getting pictures during events, partly for marketing and partly for fundraising.”

On Monday afternoon, a busload of kids pull up. After Kate helps Brandon Long, creative director, get them through the doors, they have a sit-down while he tells them the plan. As they get up to venture around the room and take in each piece of art, Kate follows quietly behind, snapping shots of kids gathered in front of paintings, talking and laughing.

“So today, I’ll just kind of follow along and take pictures of the field trip. It’s partly to show people what their money (donations) provides. I can tell them what we do, but if I can show them what we do, that’s going to be much more powerful.”

Kate sees marketing and fundraising as two sides of the same coin. “In both cases, I’m trying to tell people about our programs, and then I’m trying to motivate them to take some sort of action. Whether that’s signing up for a class, to get people out to the songwriter’s showcase this Saturday, or make a donation because we’re fundraising for a specific project — I like wearing both of those hats.”

The part of her job she loves the most is the storytelling. “I write a monthly donor newsletter, and I love being able to say, ‘wow, here’s a great story.’ Because I’m here all of the time, I get to see those things happening. If I hear something going on in the classroom across the hallway, I can pop over, take a picture and convey that moment to the public. I really like that part.”

Kate’s background is in anthropology and she’s always been interested in people.

“That’s what makes the Arts Center cool — the different people who come in, the different ways that different people respond to different art.” And she never considered herself as someone overly interested in art before, either.

“Since I’ve worked here, I’ve gotten so much more into it. I started printmaking, something I’d never done before.” The non-profit aspect is something she’s been involved in for a while — she has eight years of fundraising for food pantries and soup kitchens in her background.

“I wasn’t a frequenter of arts centers. I appreciate it so much more now. It’s been a really great thing for me to see the personal impact on myself and my kids; they’re here all of the time and take art classes.”

Sometimes the social media and other online platforms are hard to finagle through. “We have so many things going on — it can be difficult figuring out how to get any one message through what is the overall chaos of online communication. How do you do 12 posts in a week and get the same messages to the right people …”

But the most stressful part of her job is getting the classes lined up. She says it’s easy to tell we live in a very “last-minute society,” and when class events near, she finds herself panicking when there are only three people signed up. “Then it will sell-out last minute.”

She says the Arts Center pays all of its teachers because supporting artists is one of the center’s goals.

Kate Snyder, left, does her weekly radio spot with Charlie Perry at WHIR. Kate goes on every Monday around 8:15 a.m. to promote events for the non-profit Community Arts Center.

“And we have to have minimum amount signed up to take a class. That’s the biggest source of anxiety for me, because we want all the classes to make it because they’re wonderful. That means I can’t necessarily run a class with two people in it. We don’t have to make a lot of money, but we can’t lose it, either …”

The highlight of her summer was being able to get away from her deskwork and help teach some of art camp. “It was good to get away from the office. I jump in and help whenever Brandon needs it. That’s one of the other things I really like about working here — I get to do so many different things that are kind of out of the norm.”

Right now, she says the center is working on its five-year strategic plan.

“It’s about casting a vision for the quality of life you want for your community. What does the Arts Center say about Danville, as a whole. If you look at other comparable towns the same size, there’s not many with a center as robust as ours. So I think we’re something very special.”