Todd McNeel is a former Marketing & Outreach Fellow for ArtsEmerson whose career has only blossomed since finishing his education in August of 2018. We sat down with Todd to learn more about his unique career path along with any words of wisdom he wanted to pass along to current students considering careers within the arts…

Todd McNeel ’18

Tell us a bit about yourself, Todd.

Todd: “I work as the Media and PR Manager for Longy School of Music. What that means is — I handle all things media, website, and press related. I do some design, video, and photography as well. When I’m not working in media I sing with regional opera and theatre companies and festivals around the world. I finished at Emerson August of 2018 and I initially was enrolled in the MA Communication Management program and switched to the Diploma/Certificate program in Public Relations.”

Why Emerson and how did it help with your career growth?

“My journey to Emerson was definitely a non-traditional one. I left a grad program in opera performance to take a job as the Marketing and Outreach Fellow for ArtsEmerson. I doubled majored in Music and Communications in undergrad and had worked many marketing internships and positions while pursuing a music career post-grad. After working for the Office of the Arts for 6 months I applied to the Communication Management program and got in! I always say my time at Emerson definitely set me up for success. I wasn’t boxed in and was encouraged to pursue my passion and all of my interests. In undergrad, my focus was broadcast journalism and advertising, so I had little production/content creative experience.

Because I was an employee and a student at Emerson I was able to receive staff development grants, as well as graduate grants to learn skills like photography, videography and all the necessary editing software tools. I went from only being able to speak and perform on camera to actually being able to creatively produce impactful videos and editorial photo shoots. This allowed me to build a portfolio and definitely helped me land my jobs as the Media Coordinator at Boston Lyric Opera and then later move on to being the Media and PR Manager at Longy School of Music. Emerson made me a well-rounded artist, arts administrator, and a communicator/digital storyteller. Because of Emerson, I am also able to pursue a side career.”

We talk a lot about parallel careers at Emerson College. How do you manage your career as an opera singer and PR manager?

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the arts and live in a city that values the arts. My jobs have been extremely flexible and will let me leave work for auditions and gigs and have been extremely supportive. As long as I get the work done, I’m able to get away. It’s not always easy. Working 9-5 and then rehearsal from 6-11 can be rough, but I love what I do and after sitting in an office or having meetings all day, singing and dancing for 5 hours has become a much-needed release. Eventually, I’d like to become a PR consultant for multiple non-profits and still pursue performing.”

Todd McNeel ’18

What does arts advocacy mean to you?

“Being a singer and actor has always been a passion of mine, but I don’t always see myself on stage or even in some of my rehearsals/casts. When I moved to Boston and started working in the arts, it became a goal of mine to push a diverse and inclusive narrative in the arts, on both the performing and arts admin sides. I joined ArtsBoston’s Network of Arts Administrators of Color, a group of creative People of Color working in Boston’s non-profit and arts sectors. We meet monthly as a community and it’s become a huge support system. With the goal to make the Arts in Boston more inclusive and diverse, we constantly share job and audition opportunities with one another and our networks.”

What piece of advice would you give performing arts students getting ready to begin their careers in 2019?

“Advice I’d give to graduates would be to audition for everything that you can and be sure to always be a genuine and good colleague. The world is small and the performing arts world is even smaller. Also, don’t compare yourself to other people, what’s meant for you will be yours and everyone is on a different path or journey, all you can do is try your best! Another piece of advice I’d give is to give your life some balance. I love being on stage and performing, but I am thankful for the other skills I have that allow me take a break when I need one.”