As Berks Arts expands its programs, presenting events and creating educational opportunities as well as advocating for the arts in Berks County, the nonprofit has hired two full-time employees to join the executive team. Both will begin on July 1.
As Event Operation Director, Tish Davis will be responsible for leading operations teams for all Berks Arts events, including Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest, the Reading Blues Fest, and the Bandshell Concert Series. The teams take care of backstage needs such as stage production, hospitality and transportation. Davis will work closely with Berks Arts’ production manager, Gary Spencer.
Amanda Ehst will be stepping in as Community Programs and Office Manager. In this role, she will lead Berks Arts’ community programming efforts, which include Fast Lane Art, The Art of Jazz, and PA Council on the Arts grant programs. She will also support the organization’s educational initiatives through Get JazzED and Music Educators of Berks County (MEBC) scholastic festivals.
Davis, born and raised in Reading and now a resident of West Reading, is no stranger to Berks Jazz Fest, having volunteered for it in both hospitality and production departments for 18 years. As she retires from three decades at R.M. Palmer Candy Co., she will be continuing her second career behind the scenes at music events.
“I always loved the music,” she said, explaining how she began to volunteer after seeing one of the Berks Jazz Fest concerts, at the suggestion of her cousin, who was volunteering there. Now she has worked with countless artists and many have become friends. “They’re like family,” she said. “It’s so great to see them when they come.”
In recent years, Davis has also worked as a stage manager at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest and the Low Country Jazz Fest in Charleston, through the Atlanta Backline Co. and the Carolina Backline Co. She said she is thrilled to be working full-time for Berks Arts, because “I love it; it makes me happy and feeds my soul—to be able to do it full-time and have more impact. I can’t say how much I appreciate this opportunity.”
Ehst, a former music teacher, band director and more recently an events administrator, lives on the Ehst Hillside Farm in the Boyertown area with her husband Ryan and “four musical children,” she said.
During her career in education in Pennsburg, Fairfax County, VA and Roxboro, NC, Ehst has taught music to children of all ages, from 1 to 18. As an events administrator, she has balanced a variety of duties, including coordinating volunteers and travel, managing event timelines, and planning logistics locally and across the nation. When the COVID epidemic shut down live events in 2020, she continued as a preschool teacher in Boyertown and assorted substitute and part-time positions, including helping with the Boyertown Area High School Band.
Now she is looking forward to having her hands in many projects once again, in her new position at Berks Arts. “I’m excited about the team that’s being built, and the variety of things that are going on,” she said. “The things Justin has shared with me about his vision for the future are also exciting to me.”
“We are thrilled to bring both Tish and Amanda to our team in these crucial roles,” Justin Heimbecker, Berks Arts executive director, said. “As an organization, Berks Arts is experiencing an exciting time of growth, expanding the ways in which we fulfill our mission to impact our community through the arts. With that growth comes a commitment to building a strong foundation for long-term sustainability and efficiency, and these key additions to our team reflect that commitment to responsible, measured growth as Berks Arts continues to evolve into the future.”