Inside the COMPAS Studio with Emma Seeley

Get to know Arts Program and Marketing Coordinator, Emma Seeley, in our first ever Inside the COMPAS Studio. Year after year, COMPAS unleashes creativity far and wide throughout Minnesota. You don't always see it, but there's a passionate and fearless team behind the scenes working relentlessly to bring the best-of-the-best artistic experiences to all our participants. Who are these art-loving, dream-making and charismatic individuals you ask? Let's take a look shall we...


Hey Emma! When did you start working at COMPAS?

I started at COMPAS as a volunteer designer for their annual fundraiser in November of 2012. I had worked previously with board member extraordinaire Mimi Stake at a gallery that I managed before I went to graduate school to get my Masters in Arts Administration and she thought COMPAS would be a good match for me. She was absolutely right! After volunteering for several months I was offered a position as the Arts Marketing & Development Assistant and the rest is history. I am now the Arts Program & Marketing Coordinator and I’ve been working in programming for almost four years and just love it.

What’s your favorite thing about working with COMPAS, besides working with Michael Salazar? I hear he’s a lot of fun.

Well, it’s hard to compete with Michael! I love the variety of things I get to work on. From booking a teaching artist for a twenty-two library workshop tour all across northern Minnesota to scheduling performances for the opening celebration of the State Capitol last summer and the Winter Carnival this year. I also get to use my artistic background in helping to design some of our collateral materials, which I really enjoy.

COMPAS gets to work with Minnesotans of all ages and bring creativity into their lives.  The mission of COMPAS aligns perfectly with my personal goal of having as many people as possible experience the arts. By participating in the arts you gain so much more than just a painting, dance moves, acting or writing skills; you gain a better sense of self and confidence that seeps out into all aspects of your life. There’s nothing quite like the fulfillment the arts can provide.

COMPAS loves art. What’s your favorite art form and why do you love it?

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. I earned my BFA in painting; specifically abstract watercolor painting so I absolutely love doing that when I have time. Recently I’ve been taking some printmaking classes which are teaching me a whole new way to create artwork. I also love going to concerts, films, plays, musicals, museums…I try to get as much art into my life as I can. It makes life so much brighter.

What’s your go-to inspirational song (Eye of the Tiger, Roar, Friday by Rebecca Black)?

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. Definitely not any of those examples! This answer would probably change depending on the day but today I’m going to say “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. That title might sound contradictory to inspirational but that beat gets me going.

Inquiring minds would like to know… Glass half-empty or full?

Most days I see it as full. I feel privileged to be able to get to do what I do every day.

Favorite movie? Word on the street is you’re a casual fan of the cinema.

Another tough one. There have been a ton of great recent movies that I love. Moonlight and Boyhood are new favorites but my all-time favorite is Almost Famous. I’ve seen it more times than any other and if I meet someone who hasn’t seen it I will immediately suggest that we watch it together.

What was the last great book you read?

I just finished “Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound” by local author Andrea Swensson. It was a great read. I not only learned about the history of Minnesota music from the mid-1900s onward but gained a whole new appreciation for where I live and the talent we’re surrounded by.  The book ends with an overview of Prince’s career and how this Minnesota music environment led him to be the musician he was. It made me realize there’s so much I still don’t know about the place I’ve lived most of my life. Reading it made me even more proud to be from here.

What was your dream job as a kid?

An artist. That dream has been pretty consistent throughout my whole life. I think I’ve half-achieved it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mom gives the best advice not so much in words but in modeling behavior for how to be an independent, generous and genuine person in the world. When I’m struggling with something I often think, what would my mom do?