The 2023 Traverse City Young Professionals’ (TCYP) Morning Meetup Speaker Series is returning this fall! On September 21 at 8 a.m. ET, Brent Wrobel, executive director of Interlochen Presents, will share lessons from his production career and best practices for producing top-notch events.
Ahead of the Morning Meetup, we sat down with Wrobel to discuss his background and career, what YPs can expect to learn during his Morning Meetup presentation and what advice he has for those seeking a career in production.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into the production field.
Wrobel: I have always had a passion for the arts and attended College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Michigan – Flint where I earned my bachelor’s in theatre design and technology.
Over the years, I’ve worked in theatre, dance, opera, music, television, you name it. Before coming to Interlochen, I spent 11 years as the technical director for Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and worked as a lighting director for a Los Angeles-based television lighting design firm.
Tell us about your role as executive director of Interlochen Presents.
Wrobel: I started working for Interlochen Center for the Arts 10 years ago. I was initially running the design program and then became executive director of Interlochen Presents about four years ago. While I no longer run the design program, I manage the team that does that work and I lead all the programming for the institution.
I also work as a freelance designer, production manager and consultant for organizations such as Michigan State University’s College of Music, Team Imagination, Inc., Common Grounds and several other arts-based organizations.
Tell us about Interlochen Presents and how YPs and others can get involved in the program.
Wrobel: Interlochen Presents is really two things: a department of Interlochen Center for the Arts and a business model because it’s a revenue-generating part of the institution. But I think the easiest way to describe it is it’s a department that produces and oversees the events, shows, meetings, and rentals that happen on campus, such as our art galleries, musicals, educational guest artist shows and commercial guest artist shows.
As far as supporting these productions, the best way to get involved is through volunteering, such as ushering a show or partnering with us to grow our community engagement efforts throughout the Greater Northern Michigan Region.
What can YPs expect to learn from your Morning Meetup presentation?
Wrobel: I consider project management an expertise of mine, so I plan on sharing how to manage projects of all sizes, how to manage expectations, how to budget, etc. A good example from my viewpoint would be how to give a director the world while staying within the project budget.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to have a career in production?
Wrobel: My best advice would be to not narrow your focus as there are so many ways to be involved in the arts. For example, when I took this job as executive director, my background wasn’t in programming, but I have worked on so many shows across various genres that it was a pretty easy transition for me. If I had narrowed down my focus to just theater or design, it would have been a struggle for me to grow in my career.
Interested in learning more? Join us at TCYP’s September Morning Meetup held on September 21 at 8 a.m. at Traverse Connect in Downtown Traverse City.