The world is Blake Hannon Schneider’s stage.
And as the assistant director of the Performing Arts Center, she is part of a team that brings the world to the University of Georgia’s center stage.
“I want the artists to remember their stay in Athens and their time at the Performing Arts Center,” she said. “The next time they come here, I want them to be really excited to return because they love our town, they love our concert hall, they love our campus, and they love how they were treated here.”
Working at the Performing Arts Center was a homecoming of sorts for Schneider. She grew up in Athens and as a freshman at UGA, planned to perhaps follow in her parents’ footsteps and study journalism—at the time her mother was director of UGA’s News Service and her father was editor of Georgia Magazine. Eventually, she decided she wanted to be at a smaller school and took part in the National Student Exchange Program. She spent at year studying at Hunter College in New York City before transferring to Marymount Manhattan College and received a B.A. in communications.
Schneider met her husband while visiting her cousin in Maryland, after escaping town during the major blackout in New York City in August 2003. She eventually moved to Maryland and began working for a theatrical touring company. On the side, she started working with children with autism spectrum disorder, and that turned into a full-time position.
She accepted a teaching role at The Lionheart School, which specializes in educating individuals on the autism spectrum and with other neurodevelopmental diagnoses, and moved back to Georgia. Schneider loved working with the students but knew it would take a more specialized education to continue on that career path. During a visit from her parents, they mentioned an open position for general manager at the Performing Arts Center. She landed the role and has been with the Performing Arts Center since 2014.
“I don’t think there is another job at UGA that is more perfect for me than this one,” she said.
Schneider is no stranger to the performing arts. She has a passion for Broadway shows, adding that some of her fondest memories are seeing performances with her family on trips to New York City as a kid. In fact, during college, she even sold merchandise at Broadway shows and played with the Broadway Bowling and Softball Leagues when she lived in New York City. Additionally, she played the trumpet and was in the marching band before joining the drill team and cheerleading team in high school.
“I still get really excited when brass groups come here,” she said. “It’s fun to see the audiences coming in and to see the standing ovations. To see audiences really loving what we’re doing here is rewarding.”
Her position handles all the logistics that come with touring artists—hospitality, hotels, travel arrangements, schedules and more. Schneider serves as a liaison between the artists and the rest of the PAC staff. For every event, she creates what’s called the “Yellow Sheet”—a document for staff with all of the detailed information about the performers and performance.
“I like to make sure they have a really great experience, not just at the Performing Arts Center, but also in Athens, from start to finish,” she said.
Every day is a little bit different for Schneider, especially days that include a performance, and she enjoys that aspect of her job. She supervises two staff members, and she said the entire team is “so good at what they do.” Schneider also approves payments and executes all of the contracts, which can take a significant amount of time. She also handles facilities management and any rentals.
Schneider particularly loves the Piedmont Athens Regional Performances for Young People. This series provides opportunities for local students to see world-class performances for free or at a discounted rate, many of whom may not have this chance otherwise. The PAC also has a strong relationship with the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, hosting rehearsals, recitals and performances for its students and faculty.
Schneider hopes to instill a love of performing arts in her own young children. In her time away from work, she enjoys traveling and being outdoors with her family and considers herself a foodie.
Overall, Schneider sees herself as an ambassador for Athens and the Performing Arts Center.
“I want to do my part to bring people here and play a role in everyone having not just a positive experience here, but a really memorable experience here,” she said.