Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship Winner: Nina Field

sound and lighting designer Nina Field

A senior studying sound and lighting design in the Theater Design/Technology program at SUNY Purchase, Nina Field is one of the six winners of the inaugural Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarships and is looking forward to developing her career as a full-time professional. Her latest sound design credits include SUNY Purchase’s production of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play and Exit Strategy. She is looking forward to working on the sound design for The Wolves at SUNY Purchase, as well as the lighting design for Marisol and A Bright Room Called Day. Field was the A1 for #Dateme: An OkCupid Experiment, and worked in production audio around NYC for the summer. The sound scholarship winners were selected by a judging panel organized by TSDCA, and coordinated by Lindsay Jones. “I felt Nina Field was the best candidate for the Pat MacKay Scholarship based on their commitment to education, dedication to furthering their theatrical skills, and vision of collaboration through integrated design. A person with this much heart, compassion, and drive makes me look forward to seeing their future in the theatrical arts” says sound designer Sharath Patel, one of the judges for the sound scholarships.

Live Design: Why did you apply for the Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship?

Nina Field: My reasons are two-fold: The first is that this scholarship represents an excellent opportunity to present my work to industry professionals working with years of experience working in lighting and sound design. The second is that as I am nearing the end of my degree, it is important that I seize financial opportunities that will give me the best chance of academic success. This scholarship fits both of these criteria making it a natural choice for application.

LD: What are your career goals?

NF: As a designer, I want to strive to make the best art that I can. At its most basic level, theatre and performance are, I believe, about eliciting a response. I want the chance to create experiences that connect with audiences on both an emotional and intellectual level. Whether this is in the heart of Manhattan or somewhere else, I want to be the best artist I can be through my design.

LD: How can the industry better serve underrepresented communities?

NF: I believe the industry needs to fund and lobby for theatre and theatre production programs at the elementary and high school level in schools that are not necessarily considered art schools. My experience with theatre when I was younger was doing a little bit of it in high school, but never having the chance to work on the production side or having that opportunity presented to me. The industry also has to really push that this is a viable career path, since there is a stigma that one will not be able to make ends meet in this field, including pushing for fair, consistent, living wages across the industry. Lastly, the industry also has to deal with the effects of nepotism, since it makes it incredibly difficult for those who are already disadvantaged to then have to try to break into a field where you get hired based on who you know. 

LD: Are there particular challenges you have faced?

NF: As somebody who has always loved theatre, the decision to undertake a design degree later in life has brought with it its own share of difficulties. I wish I had access to technical theatre when I was younger so that I could have learned that this is something I enjoy doing and would like to do as a career. Regardless, the decision to pursue a sound and lighting design degree has been one of the best and most important decisions in my life.

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