Meet the Staff – Scott Bartelson, Management Associate
By Theresa M. MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate
Scott Bartelson is the Management Associate at Hartford Stage, whose responsibilities span three departments: Education, Artistic, and Management. Main responsibilities include assisting the Managing Director, acting as the board liaison, advocating for education programs, and coordinating calendar and correspondence from the Artistic Director.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a native resident of Connecticut. I grew up in Stratford and still live there. I headed to New York City for college and earned a degree in Educational Theater from New York University Steinhardt, which was transformative. During my time in the City, I interned with a theatrical general management company, Town Square Productions, and then worked on and off with them for the next seven years. When I came back to Connecticut, I continued both management and education at Shakespeare on the Sound in Norwalk as their Teaching Artist/Producing Associate.
Tell us about the first time you experienced live theatre and how it impacted your decision to pursue a career in theatre.
When I was a toddler, I used to go with my mom to pick up my older sisters at a dance and drama academy and was always entranced by it. I started classes, too, and became hooked. My first Broadway show wasn't until high school, when I saw Hugh Jackman in The Boy from Oz; it was a revelation. I was enthralled with the ability to tell a tragic story, while still filling it with so much joy. That's something that still fascinates me about theatre. In high school, I had a really great opportunity for arts leadership and never really identified with any other career possibility outside of theater.
You wear a number of different hats here at Hartford Stage. Take us through a typical (or non-typical) work day.
I've recently talked about how grateful I am for the diversity of my job at Hartford Stage, but it can pull me in a lot of directions. I spend a lot of my time prepping Board meeting packets, minutes and correspondence, coordinating all items in Mike (Stotts) and Darko's (Tresnjak) calendars, planning Education Ambassador or Youth Council activities and, for the past two summers, making sure we are up to date on our capital project funding from the DECD. I also get the opportunity to occasionally teach for the education department; for the past three summers, I have led our Day Dreamers program for 3-5 year olds – which is maybe my favorite time of the year. I also have been honored to edit the Breakdancing Shakespeare script for the past two years and taught an adult Shakespeare class this past winter.
How do you effectively balance your responsibilities between the Education Department and Management team?
I think a lot of it depends on what is happening during any given week; priorities are often established by whatever event, meeting, or activity is coming up quickest!
Can you please tell us about the creation and purpose of two new groups you’ve helped to establish: Hartford Stage Youth Council and Stage One?
Stage One is an opportunity for young professionals in the Hartford area to engage more directly in the operations of our Board. The concept came out of Governance Committee conversations, taking into account the next generation of Hartford Stage Board leadership. We hope that Stage One will help us identify new ways to bring 20-30 year olds to performances and increase the scope of our audience. I am very excited to work with the four new inaugural members of the group.
The Youth Council is something that I have grown very passionate about. It started as an idea from Aurelia Clunie, our Education Associate for Student Audiences, at a retreat last year. We recognized that Hartford Stage is not known as a theatre specifically for young audiences; however, teens who see productions here usually love their experience. The Youth Council is an opportunity for high school students to lead teen experiences at our theatre. Our biggest goal is to allow these young arts leaders to have autonomy over their experience at Hartford Stage in a way that makes sense for them.
We didn't really have any idea what would happen when we started a pilot program last spring, but what we found was a group of smart teens, who had varying levels of knowledge about Hartford Stage, but who were all passionate about bringing their ideas and energy to the organization. I am thrilled that this fall we will start our first full season of activities. Our pilot Youth Council has created an application, set dates for events and with some guidance from us, have structured some ideas for governance of the group. I am very excited to see how this entity evolves at Hartford Stage.
What aspect of your job would you consider to be the most rewarding?
Probably the relationships you build, whether it's with Mike or Darko, one of our Board members, or a student I am privileged to work with and get to know. It's rewarding to see their passion and joy for Hartford Stage. At our annual meeting, our Board President, Sue Collins, got emotional discussing our theatre and the accomplishments of last season. That authenticity is not something you can bottle. It takes a community of people working in tandem to make Hartford Stage possible, and I find that interdependence both fascinating and rewarding. I love this quote from Karen Armstrong: “We are what we are because of the hard work, insights, and achievements of countless others.” I think that is very true.
How did it feel to be one of two Hartford Stage “Barry Award” recipients this year?
I had picked up the award that morning for the second recipient, Aurelia Clunie, so when Mike and Darko said there were two winners, I at first got nervous that I had forgotten something and then realized they were talking about me. It was a surprise and a shock. I love the concept of the Barry Award, and I adore the fact that the individual who the award is named after still works at Hartford Stage. It was also special to me that Aurelia also won because she is someone I greatly admire.
Do you have other talents or passions outside of work?
Over the past three years, I have fallen in love with poetry. I have been reading a lot of Mary Oliver and David Whyte lately. I have started to try and catch poems as they come and then go to edit them later. Here is one I kind of like:
You cannot walk with the birds but
you can drive with them.
Oh, how thrilling it is to keep up!
Watching them in adjacent flight,
smooth black wings and
a determined gaze.
Watch out for that car in front of you though.
What is your personal motto in life?
Maybe not a motto, but a mantra:
"With every breath the world turns, with every breath, I turn with it."