Primary role: As Senior Manager of External Relations, Venas Matthews-Bazin oversees all components of meetings and events here at the Alliance. Her keen attention to detail and communication skills play a big role as she works with multiple venues, negotiates contracts with vendors, selects event locations, determines the design and layout of event spaces, and oversees the audio-visual and special effects for programs. In addition, she’s in charge of organizing, launching and managing the Alliance’s fundraising campaigns, including the Gold Key Society and the Friends of the Alliance. Her job might sound tough, but she also gets to sample and select all of the yummy catering menus for events too!
Secret fact: Venas always wanted to be a lawyer. She also wanted to be a gymnast until five years ago when she actually practiced again on the uneven parallel bar.
Venas: One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Before coming to the Alliance, I worked for Time Warner, The Apollo and MTV Networks—and when I say Networks I mean the whole company of MTV brands. I handled special events, marketing and travel management for shows like VH1 Divas, Video Music Awards, The Movie Awards, Spring Break, Latin Music Awards, Country Music Awards, and Tempo, which allowed me to visit almost every island in the Eastern and Western Caribbean and to meet some very famous people along the way. You may look at these experiences and say, “Wow, how exciting!”
However, 16-hour days, frivolous parties, spoiled performers and especially “Spring Break” made me realize that it was time for a change, time for me to live by Maya Angelou’s quote. My love for teens and my desire to help them reach their goals and fulfill their dreams was presented to me in the form of a Gold Key wrapped in a circle—yes, you guessed it! —the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, where dreams can become a reality with a little encouragement and a lot of recognition. Sure, I still meet the pressure of difficult deadlines. But the creative atmosphere at the Alliance and the important work we do in providing teens a platform to express their individuality and grow as artists and writers makes me feel like I’m making a valuable contribution. Whether it’s through raising funds that go towards scholarships, organizing an event that allows their work to be showcased, or just meeting a creative teen and listening to their dreams, I feel grateful every day that I’m able to contribute to a someone’s future, to really do as Maya Angelou said and make someone feel special.
At the Alliance, being part of such a diverse team with a wealth of experience in the arts has allowed me to grow as an individual and to learn and appreciate art more than I would have imagined. I’ve always been and avid reader, but I knew little about art. When I studied at New York University, I took an arts history class and also learned the architectural history of landmark buildings here in New York. But none of that compares to what I learn from the submissions we receive from talented teens all over the country. They’ve truly taught me about creativity and expression. So you might ask if I miss the excitement of MTV? Do I miss hanging with Eminem, Brittney Spears, Adam Sandler and Snoop Dogg? Yes, sometimes (who wouldn’t?), but would I trade the Alliance for it…NEVER! At the end of the day, I go home satisfied that I was able to make someone “feel” like their dream is possible!
Advice to Artists: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.