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Monday August 6, 2001

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UA senior interns at Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

By Graig Uhlin

Arizona Summer Wildcat

Chris Ashcraft explores the world of arts management in the nation's capital

Washington D.C. interns have been making the news a lot lately. So, being a media outlet in its own right, the Wildcat decided to find one of its own - no, not that one.

Fine arts senior Chris Ashcraft may not be working under any congressmen but he has met a few during his summer internship with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ashcraft was one of 29 students selected out of 400 applicants to work for the nation's busiest arts facility.

Ashcraft, who prefers the behind-the-scenes world of arts administration to performance, interned with the highly regarded National Symphony Orchestra.

"My experiences with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) have been extremely rewarding," Ashcraft stated in an e-mail interview. "My favorite part about working for the NSO is getting to hear them play. As a cellist myself, I have always appreciated the power and beauty of orchestral music."

As an intern, Ashcraft's responsibilities include assisting each of the 105 orchestra members, constructing and distributing the call sheets, seating charts and instrumentation sheets that ensures that each performance will run smoothly, as well as other administrative duties.

"One of the best jobs I had was to guard the VIP entrance to the Fourth of July concert on the Capitol steps," he stated. "I was able to speak with several congressmen and important dignitaries as they went to their seats."

This internship, which Ashcraft found through the Internet, has also afforded him the opportunity to meet well-known musicians, including violinist Itzhak Perlman and conductor Marvin Hamlisch.

Ashcraft has not confined himself to the walls of the Kennedy Center. He said he has spent much of his time sightseeing "as many monuments and federal buildings as possible" while making trips to the Pentagon and the White House.

"I am lucky to be spending a whole summer in Washington, D.C.," he stated. "There is something exciting about living down the street from the President."

Ashcraft said he will return to UA with "a much broader understanding of arts administration and the complexities of a non-profit arts institution such as the Kennedy Center."

"I never imagined that it would be so much fun," he stated.