Park Profiles: Meet Ira Bauer-Spector!

Kristen MihalkoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, One Park - One Team, Park Profiles

Ira Bauer-Spector is the Marketing and Communications Manager for the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet. This year he received Friends of Balboa Park’s Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award for his contributions to fostering awareness for the arts and his dedication to the Balboa Park community.

1. Congratulations on being the recipient of the Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award! Share what receiving this award means to you.

Thank you!  I’m originally from Colorado, and when I moved to San Diego, it took a long time for me to adjust to the West Coast. While I loved having access to world-class theatre and the great weather, the city didn’t feel like home. After a year of living here, I got an internship at The Old Globe and spent most of my summer in Balboa Park. I always say that I found my home in California because of that summer I spent in the Park and made it my mission to be as involved here as possible. I’ve directed nine productions at San Diego Junior Theatre since 2011 and have been the Marketing and Communications Manager at the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet for almost 3 years. I am forever grateful to Friends of Balboa Park for this acknowledgement and receiving a leadership award in this “home” that I love so dearly – let alone one named after someone as inspiring and wonderful as Mrs. Betty Peabody! – means more to me than I could ever say.  

2. How long have you been with San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and how is your current role important to your career trajectory?
I started at the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet in January 2015 and couldn’t be more honored to be a part of the team at such a historic organization. It has always been my goal to cultivate opportunities to promote arts education full-time, and it wasn’t until I started at SDCYB that it became a reality. SDCYB has so much to offer the San Diego community ranging from sold out performances of The Nutcracker to our special “Ballet for Me!” class for students with unique physical needs. The experiences I’ve gained here at the ballet continue to be invaluable to my development as a young arts education professional.

3. What has surprised you most about working at the SDCYB and at Balboa Park?
I come from a theatre background and when I started at SDCYB, the world of ballet was relatively new to me. I had seen some performances before and studied ballet a bit in both my undergraduate and graduate programs, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the incredible level of passion it takes to become a ballet dancer. We have some students who come to Balboa Park almost every day for class and I’ve watched my colleagues put together productions with upwards of 300 cast members at a time – not to mention our wonderful families, volunteers and 72 years worth of alumni! I am continuously surprised, inspired and impressed by the dedication and tenacity of those around me here at SDCYB.

4. What has been the most challenging part about working at the Youth Ballet? Most rewarding?
One of the most challenging parts of working at the ballet is spreading the word about us being here! We opened our doors in Balboa Park back in 1945 and yet so many people in the San Diego community still don’t realize that they can experience ballet right here in the Park – plus, our tickets are only $12 to $18! One of the most rewarding parts has been getting more involved in the rich Balboa Park community. In addition to everything I do at the ballet, I have been able to collaborate with many Park organizations, attend monthly Balboa Park Assembly meetings, participate in initiatives such as the Balboa Park Green Team and the Mix Up MeetUps, as well as experience park-wide events such as December Nights and Family Days. It’s inspiring because we all share a great deal of common goals and together, we provide an invaluable contribution to “America’s Finest City.”

5. Best advice in encountering a new situation at work?
I have always been a believer that the energy you put out into the universe is the energy you receive back. So, when a new situation arises at work, my advice would be to remain open to what is happening, stay positive and listen to those around you to develop a solution that works for as many people as possible.

6. What do you like to do outside of working in Balboa Park?
When I’m not in Balboa Park, I spend my time working with Breakthrough Workshop Theatre. I serve as Founding Artistic Director for this educational, non-profit theatre company that just finished its 35th project! We are about to start Season 6 in 2018, as we continue to provide unique opportunities to theatre artists of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels who wouldn’t be able to participate in a traditional theatre experiences due to the realities of their lives.

7. Favorite book, TV show, Movie, Song?
My favorite book is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (I was fortunate enough to direct a stage adaptation of this story for San Diego Junior Theatre in 2016). My favorite TV show is Game of Thrones and my favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. As far as song, I would have to answer anything by Bette Midler! She is my absolute favorite artist, actress, singer and performer of all time – in fact, I love her so much, I even got a Bette-inspired tattoo earlier this year after I saw her perform in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway.

8. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
I have two cats at home that I absolutely adore, Max and Maebelle, and they are best friends. So, if I could be any animal, I’d definitely want to be a cat so I could join their awesome clowder!

9. What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
My mom passed away unexpectedly a few months after I started working at the ballet in 2015. When I returned from her funeral in Colorado, my colleagues at SDCYB and SDJT came together and commemorated her memory with an engraved seat placard in the Casa del Prado Theater. This was particularly meaningful to me because she was an art teacher for 42 years, and ever since I was a young child it was my mom who taught me and instilled in me the powerful impact that arts education can have on our world, and especially its children. My husband Nathan and I sit at that very special seat every single time we watch a ballet or performance at the theater – and that is definitely my favorite spot in Balboa Park