Leadership / 08.20.19
INTIX Board Member Looks to Find the Right Brewe of Success and Work-Life Balance
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program, proudly sponsored by Lynne King Smith and TicketForce.
Crystal Brewe is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Communications for the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus in Philadelphia. The campus is situated along the city’s famed Avenue of the Arts and sees more than 1 million visitors a year through the doors of its three-building complex that includes the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Academy of Music and the Merriam Theater.
Brewe, who serves on INTIX’s board of directors, is tasked with leading strategic initiatives involving audience development, branding, revenue-generating opportunities, as well as community-driven programs. She has direct oversight of communications, digital strategy, sales, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and market viability analysis for programming.
She makes no bones about what she finds the most challenging aspect of her job. “Balance!” she exclaims. “Someone once told me that if you live your passion and work on what you love, you will find work-life balance. I call bulls**t on that. In fact, I am certain that the Holy Grail isn’t a chalice, but a fabled idea of bringing home the bacon while still having time to eat your cake.”
“I struggle every day with this, particularly being a mother of a teen and a tween,” she says. “Do I try to make the swim meet today, or do I finish that board report? I don’t think this is something just women struggle with, though. And, I think it is particularly hard when you are working on something you are passionate about. It’s also a bigger challenge for parents because, no matter how much help you have, guilt drives in both directions.”
For Brewe, though, the pluses far outweigh the minuses. The Kimmel Center Cultural Campus is home to a robust and entirely free education program, as well as prestigious jazz and theater artist incubator residency programs carried out in partnership with New York’s Public Theater. Programming and events, meanwhile, reflect the spirit of Philadelphia’s diverse community — everything from rock and jazz to comedy and Broadway shows.
“And we proudly host eight esteemed resident companies including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet and Opera Philadelphia,” she says. “I am surprised how much pride I am filled with each time I see a child walk through our doors with a face full of wonder and anticipation. I honestly get a little choked up each time the lights go down in the theatre, the overture begins, and the house is electrified with collective anticipation. I’ve been in live entertainment for 20 years, and it gets me every time. It takes me back to my ‘Aha!’ moment, walking through the doors of a theatre on a kindergarten field trip in Phoenix, Arizona; hearing a singer scat; and seeing my classmates invited to the stage to sing along. I was hooked.”
Brewe’s past professional credits have ranged from planning events for a botanical garden to a stint as managing director for an international dance company in Honolulu to serving on the board of directors for Locust Projects, an experimental art incubator in Miami. Along the way, she has taken to heart advice from numerous people of influence. Her favorite tidbits range from “No one goes to sleep thinking about your career” and “Assume the best of intentions, even if you have a feeling there aren’t any” to “You can only eat the elephant one bite at a time” and “Don’t wait for an invitation to the party. Just show up!”
That last one plays out both literally and figuratively, she says. “If you have ideas about an event, pop in and, give feedback. If there is a meeting to which you weren’t invited, give your supervisor some ammunition and tools to advocate for you.”
Most importantly, take advantage of the opportunities that the ticketing & entertainment industry offers today. This is especially true, she says, for women on the way up. “It’s such an exciting time, with the proliferation of data and the growth of multichannel points of sale,” Brewe says. “Ticketing comes in many shapes and forms: web development, digital strategy, analytics, customer service, marketing, etc. The lines have blurred in an exciting way, and the silos are being removed. I’d hate to point out opportunities for women alone, as I don’t think gender should give anyone more of an advantage … ever. That being said, more companies are thinking about management- and executive-level gender equity, which is a long-overdue revolution for women across every industry.”
She was also quick to offer advice to any women reading this trying to make ticketing and/or live events their lifetime career. “Whether we like it or not,” she says, “women have to more carefully consider our approach to just about anything than our male colleagues due to historic sensitivities that inevitably affect your-day-to-day. For example, it is rare one hears a man described as being ‘too direct’ or as having ‘sharp elbows.’ But we hear these descriptions used about women regularly. Being a woman leader is an art, and understanding your audience is a good tool to navigate. But it’s easier said than done. I learned in my early years by getting kicked under the table, but the best tool I’ve found to navigate as a woman leader is humor. I studied stand-up comedy in my college days, and I’ve found that dusting off some of those skills has helped disarm some of the most challenging personalities and conversations.”
She adds: “I’d also advise those starting out to find a mentor and join professional associations. Seeking out additional opportunities and getting involved in your community gives you a leg up, as well. Serving on boards and volunteering for other departments or organizations has helped me develop relationships that have helped my organization. My connections in this area helped me keep my finger on the pulse of our community for our organization.”
And, of course, Crystal Brewe can’t deny that it also helps to have a really cool name. “Yes, I think having a memorable name has likely helped people remember me,” she says. “My maiden name was horrible, having been raised with a hyphenated last name. I don’t recommend doing that to your children, by the way. I can’t even tell you how many times CSRs asked me ‘Now, ma’am, how do you spell ‘hyphen?’ when I gave my last name.”
“I didn’t marry my husband because of the name,” she says, before pausing and adding with wink and a small smile. “But I think it made him more attractive to me!”
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Tags: Music , Theater , Venues , Leadership