Faculty Spotlight: Kimberly Reilly

Meet Kimberly Reilly! Kimberly is an adjunct professor for our MPA program, teaching the Marketing in the Cultural Sector (MPA 8299) course!

Kimberly joined the staff at Villanova Theatre in February of 2011. She brings with her a decade of experience in non-profit arts management & production, having worked previously with Act II Playhouse, Theatre Horizon, and The Devon Theater. In 2010, Kimberly was honored alongside Matt Silva with a nomination for “Best Direction of a Musical” by the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre (for the duo’s re-imagined production of Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Kimberly earned her Master’s Degree in Theatre with Distinction from Villanova University in May of 2009. While at Villanova, Kimberly served as the Marketing & PR Assistant for the Theatre Department. Kimberly also received a dual B.A./B.A.H. (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Villanova in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy, earning Minors in Spanish and Sociology and a Concentration in Peace & Justice Studies. Kimberly has served as the Events Chair on the Executive Board of Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia (a subdivision of Americans for the Arts), as the Vice Chair of the Villanova University Staff Council, and as a Nominator for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. She currently serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Villanova University Honors Program as well as the Master of Public Administration Program. Kimberly is thrilled to have the opportunity to do what she loves at Villanova while helping to propagate a love for the performing arts in and around Philadelphia.

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1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. What made you join the Villanova MPA faculty?

I’ve spent the past decade working in and around the cultural economy of Philadelphia – in roles ranging from administration to programming – to fundraising, development, governance, marketing, communication, and public relations. You name it, I’ve done it! A little over five years ago, I was offered the opportunity to return “home” to my alma mater as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Theatre program here at Villanova. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to give back to an institution that had given me so much. When the Theatre department decided to partner with the MPA program to offer a new degree track – the MA in Theatre with a Certificate in Non-profit Management – I knew I needed to get involved! I have always been passionate about nurturing the growth of our students, but I am especially enthusiastic about mentoring the next generation of  arts administrators. I believe that arts and culture are the lifeblood of our society in that they have the ability to uplift and inspire the human spirit. However, so many non-profit organizations in the cultural sector struggle to generate income and attendance. That being said, it becomes all the more essential to have bright, motivated individuals behind-the-scenes working to “put butts in seats,” so to speak. I devised my course to help equip budding arts managers with the necessary skill-set to do just that.

2) You teach the course MPA 8299, Marketing in the Cultural Sector. What can students expect to learn in this course?

This one-credit course focuses on the field of non-profit arts and  cultural marketing with a special emphasis on audience generation, online marketing, external communications, and media relations strategies. By the end of the course, students will understand the role of marketing within the context of a non-profit arts organization; demonstrate facility with marketing terms, tools, concepts, and strategies; and successfully develop a marketing portfolio that they will be able to take with them into an interview process. Regardless of what industry or role the student decides to pursue, the skills they acquire over this three week “crash course” will aid them in connecting with their constituents – in person, online, and in the media.

3) You also work at the Villanova Theatre, which is pretty cool! How does your theatre experience influence your classroom/learning setting, or vice versa?

I definitely carry my theatre persona with me into the classroom. I am always extremely invested in keeping my “audience” engaged, and to that end, I have built in a number of interactive exercises designed to keep my students on their feet. My background in performance allows me to feel at ease being “center stage” (although I never actually loved the spotlight enough to pursue acting), and my improvisational skills really allow me to roll with the punches and change course as needed. I’d like to think the course itself is pretty entertaining as well! We learn a lot, and we laugh a lot.

4) What advice do you have for current MPA students?

My biggest piece of advice is to find a career where you can combine your passions with your skills. If you’re a talented writer who loves art, consider grant writing for a local museum. If you have a mind for money, but you spend all of your free time going to concerts, pursue a management position with the orchestra. If you have a knack for social media and you think theatre can change the world, maybe digital marketing at a performance venue is for you! The cultural sector needs more smart, savvy, and business-minded individuals to ensure that our children (and our children’s children!) continue to have access to the life-changing power of the arts.

Kimberly Reilly