Dec. 17, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Emiko Muraki, BFA'05 (Drama)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.

As Director of Community Investment & Impact at Calgary Arts Development, Emiko  Muraki BFA'05 (Drama) oversees grant programs that invest over $4 million annually in Calgary artists and not-for-profit arts organizations. She also leads measurement and research activities that demonstrate how a vibrant arts scene builds connections between Calgarians, boosts our local economy, shapes our civic identity and inspires youth. She has had the opportunity to develop several initiatives in her time at Calgary Arts Development, including Calgary's first Poet Laureate program, the annual Creative Calgary Congress, and contribute to the development, implementation and ongoing evaluation of the multi-stakeholder strategy Living a Creative Live: An Arts Development Strategy for Calgary

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

There are so many memories to choose from. One of the best is being in a live performance of Sympathy for the Devil as a final assignment in my History of the Rolling Stones class (my only final assignment to include dry ice!) But my favourite memory would have to be my first day on campus, buying my books at the University of Calgary bookstore. The campus is beautiful in fall, and I can still remember how fresh and exciting everything felt, with so much anticipation of what it would mean to be a university student.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

I was a theatre major, so a tie for my favourite places would be backstage in the Reeve Theatre during a performance or in the clubroom of the Drama Undergraduate Society. I think I spent as much time in those locations as I did in class over my four-year degree!

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

Participate in as many opportunities as you can on and off campus. There is a lot of value in getting experience across several different roles in theatre: directing, acting, designing, stage management. Being able to contribute to the production of a theatrical work in multiple ways will serve you well in your future career. And be sure to get off campus and see the work being produced by theatre companies so you can stay current on the professional theatre scene.

How has your career evolved?

I was lucky to receive an internship with Alberta Theatre Projects after my degree, where I worked in every department of the theatre company. After my internship ended I took a role in fund development and special event management. That role gave me the experience needed to join Calgary Arts Development. During my time there I have received opportunities for professional development and gained expertise in strategy and public policy. A recent return for a second degree in psychology has developed my research skills, which I now apply to my current role. I never would have imagined my degree would take me in this direction, but it has been a natural evolution, joining my interest in strategy and research with the field I love.

What is the best thing about your job?

Through my job I get to talk about why art matters, to advocate for and celebrate the work of Calgary's artists and arts organizations and ultimately to make my home city an amazing place. Calgary was recently voted the fifth best city in the world to live by The Economist, and when I look at the amazing unique and local arts experiences that happen every single day in this city I have no doubt that they are contributing to this being a better home for all Calgarians.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

The obvious corollary is that I work in the arts sector, however my days are a far stretch from stage performance. My training in an artistic practice taught me work ethic and tenacity. "The show must go on" is a common sentiment in theatre, and that is a belief I have carried throughout my career. My training as a performer has also given me the skills to be a confident presenter and spokesperson for my organization - I would recommend acting classes to every business student. Finally, the capacity for creativity cultivated throughout my degree is an incredible asset. Creativity breeds innovation, and in an increasingly complex world creativity is becoming one of our most valuable resources.