Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
Audra Lange is the director of public events for UW-Whitewater’s College of Arts and Communication. An alumna of UW-W with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater management and a dance minor, she returned to the school after six years in Florida as the marketing director for Florida Studio Theatre. In 2016 and 2017, Lange was nominated for the Women in Business Awards with SRQ Magazine.
Originally from Iron Ridge, Lange attended high school at Watertown Luther Preparatory School. She has two cats, Gus and Leo, and while some might argue she’s a cat lady, she also loves dogs. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with family and friends, watching Netflix/Hulu and reading. She recently finished season four of “Grace & Frankie” and can’t wait for the next one.
To learn more about the UW-W College of Arts and Communication, visit uww.edu/cac.
1. You plan and market all public events for several art-related departments at UW-Whitewater. How do you determine what types of events you will offer at the university? We plan and market all the events for the departments of theater/dance, music, art and design, communications and media arts and game development. Specifically, for theater/dance and music, we talk about the types of programs that will interest and challenge both our current audience and future audiences. We try to offer a wide variety of unique events that will reach our community. In determining the seasons for theater/dance, there is a committee of faculty and academic staff that researches and proposes scripts that will benefit the students and curriculum and also allow our community to see the breadth of talent available to them in the Greenhill Center of the Arts.
2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I’m a pretty die-hard fan of pistachio and also anything coffee flavored. I’m also going to go pretty basic and say mint chocolate chip because it’s a childhood favorite.
3. You’re on the board of directors for the Whitewater Arts Alliance. What do you hope to contribute to that group? I was brought on board by my former adviser and mentor, Megan Matthews, to serve as corresponding secretary. In Megan’s words, it’s because I’m a “get stuff done kind of gal” (ha ha). I’ve been working on a revamp of the website (whitewaterarts.org and tell me what you’d like to see!), assisting in planning of the Main Street Festival in Whitewater and wrote a feature story with the Royal Purple on our April photography show and workshops. It’s inspiring to serve on this board with so many engaged and motivated individuals who have done so much for their community over the years. Fun fact: We did introductions within the board of directors, and when it came to an interesting fact about myself, I had to say “I like to be busy.” I think they’re going to hold me to that one.
4. In one word, describe the arts scene in Whitewater. Diverse, but what’s in a word?
5. At the grocery story, what item always goes into your cart whether you need it or not? La Croix. I could live on that sparkling, flavor-infused water and that alone.... just kidding. But really, I’m addicted.
6. Is it hard coming up with ideas for arts presentations at UW-Whitewater, or do opportunities constantly present themselves? Things are CONSTANTLY presenting themselves. From visiting artists coming in to work with our students to the random ensemble playing in the atrium to the annual ceramics and jewelry sale, there is something going on at all times. I can’t take credit for these ideas—our outstanding faculty and staff are the people who are creating these opportunities for the students and our community. I think we all believe arts can change the world if we let ourselves be open to new experiences and ideas.
7. Have you ever given blood? Was it a positive experience? Yes, once. I hate needles! My mother is a registered nurse, so I always got my shots from her at home. One time, I pushed my entire full-sized bed set in front of my door in order to avoid the flu shot. I stuck it out for a few hours until I got bored. I’ve grown out of it a little bit and, thanks to this reminder to be a better citizen, I’ll be scheduling an appointment soon.
8. What have been some of your favorite presentations at UW-Whitewater? One of my favorite shows year to year is DanceScapes. The mix of different pieces and the expression you see popping off the stage is really inspiring. This concert is a mix of faculty and student pieces as well as a guest artist. This year, the guest artist was Joe Chvala from The Flying Foot Forum in Minneapolis.
9. If someone else paid for the experience, would you jump out of a plane? No way. Yes? I’m torn. I would love to say I would be brave enough, but I’m not a daredevil at heart. I like to color in the lines.
10. What has to be considered before you start planning an arts event at UW-W? A large part of my job is scheduling the events into spaces, so that is step number one—do we have the space? We have hundreds of public events each year that are both ticketed and free. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to find a space for all of the programming we offer.
11. In your capacity, you help UW-W students gain public exposure for their work. Why is that particularly important? Yes, and there are two parts to that. We are helping students gain exposure for their role in a play or concert, but we are also helping students gain professional experience in marketing and communication. It resonates personally from my own experience with undergraduate research. For my own senior project, I was able to get a grant to research public art walks around the state of Wisconsin and how they were used and marketed to increase tourism. Part of that project was to present my findings and present a proposal to the city of Whitewater. While it hasn’t happened yet, it has been part of many discussions at the city level ever since. Sometimes, for a student, it only takes one nudge in the right direction to create big ideas and bring them to fruition. I want every student to have those ‘aha’ moments during his or her time at UW-Whitewater.
12. Are you more of a planner, or do you tend to be spontaneous? A little bit of both. I like to make plans because my life tends to be a bit hectic. But sometimes, the best things and discoveries happen when you don’t plan them.
13. What screensaver image do you have on your cellphone right now? My niece and I on the beach in Florida—her first time! I recently moved home to be with family after being away for six years, and it’s wonderful to be back and with them all the time.
14. Where is your favorite place to unwind? I match up 100 percent with my zodiac sign (not that I put too much stake in that, but it’s interesting) and love water. I love being on the lake or around/in any body of water. Growing up, I was pretty fortunate to live on a lake and have 24/7 access.
15. Despite having a university within its borders, Whitewater is a rather small city. Is the community, as a whole, a strong supporter of art at UW-W? The community in Whitewater is very supportive of the arts. We get comments all of the time about how they are so happy they ‘discovered’ what we do in Greenhill Center and can’t wait to come back. We have had people asking about events that are months away because they come every year. I’m hoping to grow that even more over the next few years.
16. What factors into the decisions about the type of programs you organize on behalf of the UW-W arts department? These factors come from many areas. Of course, I’m always concerned about marketability, but other factors include: How will it benefit our students? How does this program tie into our strategic plan at the university level? Does it tie in with our diversity and inclusion initiatives?
17. Share the title of the last good book you read. It’s not a book, but the last thing I read was a script by Nora Ephron titled “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.” I’ll let you guess why I was reading that. The last book I read was a favorite of mine that I’ve read hundreds of times—“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer. I’m a total junkie for a good mountain-climbing story or documentary. I’m currently watching “Meru,” which is about three guys who are trying to summit the mountain Meru in India.
18. Where is your favorite place to eat in Whitewater? Most days I’m pretty busy with meetings and deadlines, so I don’t get out too often. My new favorite place when I do get the chance to venture out is Taco Fresco. What’s more amazing than grilled, seasoned chicken in a bowl with rice, peppers, onions, black beans and hot sauce? Not much, in my book.
19. You were an undergrad at UW-W. Is it at all strange to now be working for the university? It was a little at first, but everyone was really supportive of me coming back. I’m now a colleague to professors who helped expand my horizons in class, saw my ‘aha’ moments and those who sometimes had to check my stubbornness at the door. I enjoy working with those people who were able to inspire me as a student because I know that I get to now be a part of inspiring future young professionals.
20. If you weren’t serving in this capacity, what would you be doing with your life? I’m one of those people that isn’t quite sure what they want to do when they ‘grow up’. I enjoy working in the arts because it allows me to think outside the box. I love managing people, and I love graphic design, videography, photography, etc. If I weren’t here at UW-Whitewater, I could see myself either owning my own business in marketing or consulting or working at another arts organization. For “this world is but a canvas to our imagination.”—Henry David Thoreau