Arts & Culture

‘A Dream Come True’ — UK Grad Merges Her Passions With Online Arts Admin Program

Taylor Jewell, from Beattyville, Kentucky, will graduate this week with a master’s degree in arts administration from the UK College of Fine Arts.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2022) — On this Wildcat Wednesday, the University of Kentucky is celebrating Taylor Jewell, from Beattyville, Kentucky, who will graduate this week with a master’s degree in arts administration from the UK College of Fine Arts.

Jewell always knew she’d have a career in the arts.

“Learning and furthering my education have always been very important to me, and in every way that I imagined my future, it was always in the arts.”

Jewell received a scholarship to pursue the flute at Eastern Kentucky University in 2014. While her sights were originally set on music education and performance, she later realized a love for another area of the arts that changed her trajectory completely.  

During her junior year, she became involved in the marketing and ticketing of arts events.

“Being a classically-trained musician will always be an important part of who I am, but not my whole identity,” Jewell said. “I started to realize that in student groups and organizations that I was a part of, I always found myself on the PR committee, or being the one creating flyers and posting on social media.”

There was another moment during her junior year that inspired her to make a change.

“I was sitting in the Concert Hall at the Singletary Center at an open Lexington Philharmonic rehearsal, and hearing Allison Kaiser talk about her position as executive director for the orchestra and thinking ‘Yes… that.. I want to do that…’ I changed my major from music education to music industry at the end of that semester.”

When finishing her undergraduate studies in 2019, Jewell knew she wanted to continue her education, but was undecided on what she should pursue, so she decided to take a gap year and work. When she learned she could combine her love for the arts and her love for marketing, she said it was “a dream come true.”

“I knew in order to stay true to myself and my dreams, I needed to pursue an advanced degree in arts administration — that's where my heart is.”

In 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic had taken its grip on the nation and the world, Jewell took a major leap, and decided to enroll in the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts’ online Master of Arts Administration program. The online program gave Jewell the flexibility to continue working and pursue career opportunities. One of those opportunities was becoming executive director of Lexington’s Chamber Music Festival. The multi-day classical music festival takes place every fall and brings internationally acclaimed musicians to the Bluegrass. The opportunity helped Jewell become established in Lexington and allowed her to explore what being an arts administrator really meant to her.

She also began working at the UK Singletary Center as a coordinator in the ticket office.

“When I started the MA program during the pandemic I never dreamed I would later snag my dream job of doing ticketing AND marketing for a performing arts center, much less one as special as the Singletary Center.”

And even though her program is online, Jewell says she was still able to get involved on campus and make lasting friendships.

“The sense of camaraderie that I feel at the University of Kentucky is unmatched. The College of Fine Arts has truly welcomed me and I feel so supported in every aspect of my work, academic studies and just life in general. Lexington and UK have such a creative and vibrant arts scene and I feel honored to be a part of it.”

One of Jewell’s favorite UK memories was this past September — after nearly 18 months without a concert due to COVID-19 restrictions — when the UK Symphony Orchestra performed for an audience again.

“There was a six-minute standing ovation from the crowd, and it was just magical and so emotionally raw,” Jewell said. “Folks typically don't cheer and scream at the conclusion of symphony concerts, but this time they did, and it felt so good to be back.”

After graduation, Jewell will continue working at the Singletary Center ticket office and start planning this year’s Chamber Music Festival. Her long-term goal is continue her work in ticketing and marketing for a performing arts center, and wants to make classical music feel more accessible to all.

“There is often a stigma that classical music is just for the wealthy white man, and I LIVE to challenge that thought,” she said. “I want to program more Black conductors and artists and more female composers — I want to see those stories being told on stage.”

Jewell credits many people for her success, including her mother, and the faculty and staff in the College of Fine Arts, including her supervisor and mentor Matthew Gibson.

“I am so grateful for the UK College of Fine Arts and the chance to wake up each day and truly make art happen.”

The UK College of Fine Arts Department of Arts Administration leads national and international initiatives in teaching, research, professional and community service to educate and inspire responsible arts leaders, artists and entrepreneurs. The department offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, as well as a graduate certificate in fundraising and development.

Learn more at https://finearts.uky.edu/arts-administration.

UK’s Commencement Ceremonies will take place May 6-7, at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Learn more at commencement.uky.edu.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.