Natalie Sliwinski Howard is a Director at the Trinity Irish Dancers, a world renowned dance program based in Chicago, Illinois with additional locations throughout Wisconsin. As a former student of the academy, she quickly climbed the competitive ranks and competed many times at the world championship level. She went on to perform professionally as the principle dancer with the Trinity Irish Dance Company and spent many years as a lead instructor at the academy, teaching students of all ages and levels. She currently manages the Academy’s office and is passionate about working in the non-profit performing arts space.
Katie Grennan: What apps do you use every day and why do you like them?
Natalie Howard: There are so many! When working on marketing and social media specific tasks, I use the Facebook Pages Manager a lot. I also recently started using the Google Analytics app to coincide with the launch of our new website earlier this year, and I find it extremely intuitive and insightful. For more of the day-to-day stuff, I use Wunderlist, which helps me keep track of both my to-do lists and those of my co-workers. For document creation and review, I like to use “Pages”, which is similar to and compatible with Microsoft Word. Since a lot of the work I do is on the go, it’s an easy way to access and revise documents and it’s convenient that anyone who works from a Mac and has access to iCloud can work in the document real-time. Additionally, the iPhotos app is really great, which also leverages the iCloud sharing technology. Throughout the process of getting new costumes for some of our dancers earlier this year, it helped us easily share pictures and videos with the manufacturers (located in New York), so that they could see how the costumes were sitting on the dancers, not just while they were stationary but while they were actually dancing, increasing the speed and accuracy at which the next iteration of costumes could be refined. In general, since we are such a visual organization operating in the performing arts, any app that allows me to easily share videos or pictures with others is an awesome app in my mind! When I’m actually in the studio, I’ve found the Pro Metronome app very helpful, because it helps all the dancers dance at the same tempo when we are working without music.
KG: Is there an app that would solve your problems?
NH: I think it would be great to have an app that allows you to layer a song from anywhere (iTunes, Spotify, voice recordings, etc.) with a metronome. Although this would probably solve more of the student’s problems – not mine!
KG: Is there an app which surprised you with its usefulness?
NH: I was initially skeptical of Google Analytics because I found the desktop format very confusing, but I’m so glad I discovered the mobile app and I use it all the time because it’s laid out well and is so much easier to use than on my laptop. I’ve also found the CamScanner app to be surprisingly useful. I always have to send documents here and there, and in the past, it was always a big production to head into the office with a stack of papers and use the physical scanner. Now, wherever I am, I can just take a picture of the document I need to send off and it’s automatically in a professional format. Finally, Skype continues to amaze me with how much it cuts our communication costs. It has allowed us to connect with key individuals around the world, such as our presenter for our Japan tours or our musical director based out of Belfast, Ireland, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional phone call.
KG: If you could recommend an app for every arts manager, what would it be?
NH: I’m a big fan of Evernote and feel it would be helpful for any arts manager. I love how it seamlessly syncs across all devices and how easy it is to share whole projects at once. I can upload pictures or videos, organize them the way I need to with specific comments, and I can easily share it with remote collaborators.
Image ©Lois Greenfield