Operations manager has big job coordinating CSO productions

photo Kathy Allison, operations manager for the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, is photographed in the supply room at the CSO office in the Tivoli Center in downtown Chattanooga.

Kathy Allison has worn many hats over the years, and all of them helped prepare her for her job as operations manager of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera.

Allison spent 30 years teaching music in the Hamilton County school system. During that time she was also costume mistress with the CSO. In the mid-1980s, she became the first female member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. In that role, she has been a part of the stage crew at most of the shows at the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium.

Before taking the CSO job, she was dean of fine arts at the Center for Creative Arts.

Q: Describe what you do at the CSO.

A: It depends on what the production calls for, really. Operas require the most work because of the staging involved. I secure quotes, research staging, measure the chorus for costumes, pick costumes and, when they arrive, make necessary alterations.

Q: Are most costumes rented or made new?

A: Pretty much everything is rented. It's more economical to rent than to build. I was (however) involved in building the costumes for "Hansel & Gretel" and "Susannah."

Q: What are the main talents needed for being the operations manager at the CSO?

A: I think my job at the Center for Creative Arts was the job that best prepared me for this. As dean of fine arts, I was responsible for a successful production; and also budgeting, planning, scheduling. There are a lot of organizational skills. We were a school but also a production company.

With the symphony, it's everything from planning the production to packing it away. It is different because of the guest artists. You have to book their hotels, plan their schedules and their itinerary, hospitality, travel. It calls upon every communication skill there is.


Kathy Allison

Hometown: Chattanooga.

Education: Master's degree in music education from UTC.

Vocation: Operations manager for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera; previously spent 30 years as a music educator with Hamilton County Schools, retiring as dean of fine arts from Center for Creative Arts.

Favorite movie: "Intersection"

Favorite play: "A Chorus Line"

Favorite opera: "La Boheme"

Favorite artist: Elton John

Favorite song: John Rutter's "Requiem"