Grace had many dreams as a child. And just as her dreams were diverse and ever-changing back then, her dreams continue to change to this day. “I hoped to be a pediatrician, and then a vet, and then a forensic investigator, and then a journalist, and then a wedding planner. I don’t think that childhood Grace could’ve predicted where she is now,” Grace explained. And just as her dreams continue to develop in different ways, so does her unique and diverse involvement at the University of Michigan.
Focusing now on Musical Theatre, Grace is a senior here in the SMTD and involves herself in many other areas such as Arts Administration, Creative Production, and writing. She also has a Creative Writing Minor through the College of LSA, and worked as a Pomegranate Arts Intern.
Grace was granted the 21st Century Internship, meaning she had the opportunity to work with Pomegranate Arts, ultimately working with artists like Laurie Anderson, Batsheva Dance Company, and Taylor Mac. As Grace described, “The 21st Century Artists Internship was one of the defining opportunities of my life. I was able to live in New York City for a couple months, which in and of itself is a great blessing for up and coming artists.” She portrayed the very active and demanding tasks of the internship, such as running from the Pomegranate Arts offices on 28th and Broadway, to Smash Studios for a recording session with Taylor Mac, to the Yale University campus for the Festival of Arts and Ideas. But part of the reward was of course finding inspirational figures who had built the production company from the ground up. “It was so heartening to work under two badass women, Linda Brumbach and Alisa Regas,” Grace explained. Besides the inspirational experience, Grace came to learn much more from the internship as well. “You can succeed, financially and artistically, by making art that you believe in,” she says. “This internship taught me how to recognize artistic brilliance—by trusting my own visceral reactions to the pieces that I see. These revelations were validated through the words of Jack O’Brien, Jeffrey Seller, and Stephen Schwartz.”
One particular project of Grace’s that stands out is her Solos Literary Magazine. The magazine was started with help from the SMTD’s EXCEL funding, and was able to provide a space for students in the SMTD to share their writing. “I saw a deficit in our community of publications like Solos; a marketing tool,” Grace expressed. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the unity of an institution behind the hustle and bustle of people’s individual lives. However, as Grace also explains, “[A publication like Solos is] a magazine and website with the mission of promoting school-wide unity, showcasing the work of writers and artists within the SMTD in a format not currently available, creating meaningful relationships through readings and other magazine events, and expanding the breadth of collaboration that is possible.”
The magazine was made to be a community-focused project, as Grace put it. Unfortunately, other interests had come to the fore this year for Grace, and the Solos Team didn’t have time to continue the magazine. “However, I think that we all learned a great deal about collaboration, leadership, and entrepreneurship through our endeavors,” Grace described.
In her many experiences with entrepreneurship and Arts Management, Grace also tackles the more complex questions and issues with defining the conglomeration of entrepreneurship and artistry, “…one of the big questions that I have been asking myself while doing this project and also in looking at other researchers’ work is: can the artist be separated from entrepreneurship? Or does an artist need to be an entrepreneur to be successful?” Her answer to this question focuses on the artist’s individual needs: it depends on what an artist would like to be accomplished in his/her art.
Grace sees herself as an entrepreneur, especially as she describes how important it is to her that she continue to have a final say in all creative decisions. “If I have a project that I need to find funding for, I know how to find the funding and write the grant applications. This administrative work is something that we must accept, and embrace, in order to do what we love,” she explains. As being an entrepreneur can be a vital aspect of being an artist, Grace claims that organization, creative thinking, humility, gratitude, leadership, and kindness are just a few of the important aspects of what make up a good artistic entrepreneur.
Even though Grace admits that she still has a lot to learn about being an entrepreneur, she still strives to be an involved and active part of the musical and non-musical communities. Her Senior Showcase is coming up soon in the next month, and she will then move to New York to pursue musical theatre full time. Her one piece of advice to students inspiring to do the impossible is to reach out. “We in SMTD are gifted with a beautiful, brilliant community. Those things that are impossible for you are second nature to someone in your sphere. All things are possible through collaboration, and recognizing the brilliance of those around you,” Grace describes.
Grace Bydalek is a recent alumna from the University of Michigan. Her degree focus was on musical theatre and she was constantly involved with other facets of the arts. She will be giving her Senior Showcase soon, and moving to New York after graduation to pursue a full-time career in musical theatre. By working with Pomegranate Arts in New York City, creating her own literary magazine, and constantly submerging herself in new and exciting opportunities, Grace tries to encompass all of the exciting artistic and entrepreneurial things she does into her overall academic and professional experience.