Julie Thompson is the director for George Mason University’s various performing arts venues such as the Center for the Arts, Harris Theatre and the Black Box Theater. This week, Broadside sat down with Thompson and talked about the finer points of planning and running 450 events a year.

Q: How long have you been working at Mason?
A: I have been here 15 years, back when George Johnson was president. I came in as a basic wage worker and thought I would be here for a year.

Q: How would you describe your experiences here?
A: This has been a pretty exciting time for the college. A lot of venues have been opened and academic departments are expanding. It’s been busy but still very exciting.

Q: How did you get started in a career like this?
A: I worked professionally as a stage manager with regional opera companies, such as Minnesota Opera and Wolf Trap Opera. I came from a professional world where I worked 24/7. I thought the hours [at Mason] wouldn’t be so intense and I thought it was a good plan to work with students.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: I love that it is never the same and is constantly changing. No year is ever the same. I also realize that we are building things from the ground up here.

Q: Of all the events you have scheduled, which one sticks out as one of the greatest successes?
A: We did the Obama visit right before the Inauguration. That was a lot of fun and very successful. It just shows that we can do so many different events.

Q: Where do you see the Center for the Arts and the other performing arts venues going in the next few years?
A: We are putting our focus on helping the performing arts departments continue to grow. The student work and the players have been getting stronger.

Q: How do you attempt to involve the student body?
A: We do offer 500 free student tickets for any given event we do have. We are also starting to work closely with the Office of Student Involvement. We have helped out with things like the stepping shows.