If you are a regular subscriber to Meany Center’s Visiting Artists program, chances are Cathy Wright knows your name—and your seat number.
Cathy has been working at the ArtsUW Ticket Office since 2001—longer than any of her colleagues—and a lot of tickets have passed through her hands! She came to the Ticket Office almost by chance, however.
Cathy’s undergraduate degree was in music—originally she’d planned on becoming a music teacher before realizing early on that classroom management was not something she wanted to take on. So, she majored in general music with an emphasis on voice. And meanwhile, she worked at a variety of desk jobs—first at Fred Hutchinson, then at UW Medical Center, and finally Harborview where she manned the front desk at an out-patient psychiatric department. “That was a really interesting job,” Cathy remembers. “I met such a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
She quit her hospital job when she began a graduate program in music history at the University of Washington and got a work-study position at Gallery Concerts, an organization that presents early music for chamber ensembles playing period instruments in acoustically appropriate spaces. Cathy’s first job at an arts organization led to her next: the summer before she graduated, she worked for the Olympic Music Festival. She sold tickets, coordinated volunteers, answered phones and did general office work around the organization’s headquarters in Seattle; then every weekend, she traveled to the Olympic Peninsula to help produce the actual events.
All these different jobs were excellent preparation for the ArtsUW Ticket Office—though Cathy nearly didn’t apply at all when she first read the job description, which described the ideal applicant as having “bank teller experience.” Fortunately, she kept reading and realized that the actual job duties were tasks she’d been doing all along.
After 18 years, what’s kept her here so long? “I love the people I work with,” she says. Plus, it’s fun: “Our patrons are wonderful, and I’m proud of the shows we put on.”
One of her favorite memories is when Meany Center presented the vertical dance company, BANDALOOP in 2017. It was a complicated show that started on the exterior walls of Meany Hall and then moved indoors to the theater. Dancers were literally swinging in mid-air over the audience, and certain seats had to be killed—which meant that subscribers who regularly sat in those seats needed to be moved.
To make matters worse, the ticket office had been given the wrong seat numbers to move! It wasn’t until dress rehearsal on the afternoon of opening night that the mistake was discovered, and Ticket Office staff had to switch patrons again—at the last minute—changing seats and calling affected ticket holders to warn them of the change.
“It was such a pain,” Cathy says. “It was all hands on deck—and half the staff was sick with a cold that was going around. But all three nights during the performance we would step outside to see the company dancing on the walls! It was so worth it!”
The next time you call or visit the ArtsUW Ticket Office, you may well find yourself talking to Cathy. Rest assured you are in good hands.
Patron Services Associate, Cathy Wright