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Kara Miller: Sticking with artistic passions in changing times

Kara Miller: Sticking with artistic passions in changing times

#jcmo Inside Business 17 in '17

October 30th, 2017 by Brittany Hilderbrand in Business

Kara Miller poses for a portrait at The Bridge in Jefferson City.

Photo by Shelby Kardell /News Tribune.

Originally from northern Idaho, Kara Miller has always been a creative soul.

As general manager of The Bridge, bar and concert venue in downtown Jefferson City, she has the pleasure of demonstrating her longtime passion for art and music.

Over the last seven years, Miller has worked side by side with The Bridge owner Wes Wingate, learning the ropes of the music industry. As her first job out of college, Miller worked as the primary media relations and event coordinator and has since continued to grow in the business.

She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with an emphasis in magazine journalism, more so focusing on design and editing. While completing her capstone, Miller said, she worked as a music editor, which ultimately gave her the skills and confidence to pursue the next step in her career.

"The week of graduation, the sushi place I was working at as a manager informed me they were closing their doors, so I knew I would soon be without a job," Miller said. "At the time, The Bridge in Columbia had only been open three months, and because I was a music editor, I knew I had the skills they needed to promote themselves in the music community."

The week after graduation, Miller pitched herself to Wingate and became the venue's new media relations coordinator.

For the last seven years, Miller helped enhance media relations, create a musician-friendly environment, manage artist contracts and still continues to evolve in the industry.

In June 2016, The Bridge closed its location in Columbia; in March 2017, The Bridge opened in Jefferson City.

In the new space, Miller said she is most proud of her ability to host benefit shows for organizations like the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Agency, and offer space to nonprofits that need it.

"What motivates me in any capacity is being able to help something greater than what I can do by myself," Miller said. "We can allow people to use our space that would otherwise have to go somewhere and pay for the space."

Q. Who has invested in you and your career?

A. "My parents! I'm adopted, and my two parents are so supportive of everything that I do. I am a flawed human, and they know that. I mess up, and they still encourage me to get back up and keep going. Secondly, I have a strong knit-group of friends who are there for me, don't sugarcoat my mistakes, but are never too harsh on me. They are also my inspiration and keep me going."

Q. What choices have you made to invest in yourself and your own success?

A. "After graduating, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a journalist because the climate of journalism had changed, but I did know that I wanted to continue being an artist. Outside of here, I work for Diggit, where I can continue fostering my graphic design skills. I've chosen a creative path that may not be as financially stable as other directions, but I do really enjoy all the people I meet and get to work with. These experiences have expanded my knowledge and diversity of music, culture and networks of people. So I surround myself with people that inspire me to continue to be artistic. What I've done to continue being successful is to focus on being happy and not the monetary marks in this industry."

Q. Of what professional achievement are you most proud?

A. "Our tag line has always been "Free High Fives," and I'm most proud of being able to create a independent musician brand for the business and seeing it successfully come to fruition. It's not easy because social media is always changing and so what people want and how people want to find out about shows can be a challenge, but it's a very satisfactory feeling when you see your work come to life, knowing you pulled that off.

"I really like that we can use our space for benefit shows to help support nonprofits. I remember when Wes gave me free rein to build a show for the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association and all the profits made at the door went toward their agency."

Q. What do you see as the biggest issues facing women in the workplace?

A. "I can go into all of the standards: the pay rates, etc., but the biggest thing for me is men performers trying to take advantage of women. They look at my size and automatically assume that I'm not the one in charge. I think systematically people are unfamiliar with young women being in control and working in authoritative manners. It's uncomfortable for a lot of people, but Wes has always reinforced the fact I'm in charge and encourages me to be assertive and stand up for myself. People need to realize that women are extremely strong and capable of doing the same roles as a man."

Q. What drives you most in life and in your career?

A. "Art and music are huge passions of mine! So being able to work in that environment on a daily basis helps foster relationships with developing and independent musicians. Our slogan has always been, 'We're a venue built by musicians for musicians.' So it's fun to watch the process and the overall development of an artist."

Q. What advice would you give to a woman entering the workforce?

A. "The biggest piece of advice I can offer to other women is to learn what you need to learn to be able to move forward in whatever field you choose to do. Be confident and be proactive so that when you take on new challenges you can be assertive with the confidence that you know what you're doing."

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