Kathy Gustafson is the new director of marketing and communications at the Spokane Symphony, returning to an organization she worked for 12 years ago when she first moved to the region from Chicago.
"I feel like I'm at home," she says. "A lot of people are still there. Even walking through the building... it feels so good to be here."
She is responsible for marketing a packed slate of shows at the Fox Theater for the upcoming year. This interview has been lighlty edited for length and clarity.
INLANDER: What do you do now and how did you get here?
GUSTAFSON: I worked at the Paramount Theatre as a director of marketing in Aurora, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. I moved out west, and the symphony hired me to be the marketing manager for their "Fox Presents" programming.
So when I came on board, the symphony was taking a risk in producing shows that were kind of outside of their wheelhouse, because they weren't symphony shows. They were David Byrne and Lyle Lovett and shows like that. That was in 2008 when the economy was really bad. Arts were struggling.
Since the economy has gotten better, do you think people are more interested in the arts?
Absolutely. I think it's twofold. I think, yes, there is a strong economy, but I also think that in Spokane, we really support each other here. Go out anywhere on a Monday night and you'll think, "Why is it so crowded here?" People in Spokane just support each other, and they like to go out and have fun.
What's your favorite show that you've ever seen at the Fox?
When I first worked here 10 years ago, we brought in David Byrne, and it was probably one of my all-time favorite shows I've seen in my life. I loved it so much. My second favorite that I ever saw was actually Brandi Carlile when I was first here. It was kind of my first introduction to the symphony. She was so beautiful with the symphony.
What shows do you want to keep adding?
We want to keep doing the things that are the heart of who we are. So of course we're going to keep doing our beautiful symphony programs and educating people on symphonic music and the history of it and the emotion of it and how powerful it is. Bringing in amazing guest artists, but also finding things that other people aren't doing.
What are your aspirations for the symphony?
My whole goal is that I want people to be sitting on their couch on Wednesday night with their people and being like, "What are we going to do this weekend? What's going on?" and then say, "Hey, let's check what's going on at the Fox, and see what's happening," whatever it may be. That is my goal, to have people come to us and really have us as a hub for what they're doing on the weekend, and we have a ways to go. I think still we have to educate people on what's happening in that building, and amazing things are happening in that building. ♦