Rebecca Ayres (M.A. Arts Leadership ’18), a former stage manager and crew member, is no stranger to the theatre, but her job at Houston’s historic Alley Theatre is taking her to whole new level.
Just two weeks into her role as a development associate in the Alley’s special events department, Ayres is already taking on new responsibilities. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m assisting the director of development prepare for our big donor events — the Alley Theatre Ball, Deck the Trees, Wilder Things and Sporting Clays,” she says. As someone who has worked for small performing arts organizations where employees often wear several hats at once, adapting to the Alley’s projects has been one the biggest challenges. “The sheer scale of these events is mindboggling.”
Ayres fell into theatre almost by accident. In 2003, she began working with the experimental Catastrophic Theatre — then called Infernal Bridegroom Productions — in various behind-the-scenes roles, including sound board operator, set designer and stage manager. “I learned theatre on the job,” says Ayres, who studied anthropology, comparative literature and Spanish as an undergraduate. She also worked in the front of the house at DiverseWorks and now, as the managing director of Mildred’s Umbrella, she has a hand in fundraising and marketing. “My roles expanded over the years and I decided it was time to learn more about arts administration.”
At the University of Houston, Ayres is building essential administrative and leadership skills in the Master of Arts in Arts Leadership program. From community engagement and marketing to grant writing, her courses provide a solid foundation in arts management. “It’s great because I can make connections to my on-the-job experiences,” she says.
Ayres is joining the Alley Theatre at a difficult time — it’s still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded its Neuhaus Theatre and prop storage room in August — but she’s up to the challenge. “The entire Houston arts district was impacted by the storm, but we’re moving forward,” she says, adding that the camaraderie and support is a source of inspiration. “It’s like a big family here,” she says. And, as the newest member, she can’t wait to roll up her sleeves and help the theatre move toward an even bigger, brighter future.