A perfect candidate already has a passion for the arts, whether it’s in theatre, film, music, dance or any area where performance happens. The great thing about art is that it’s all around us, from the venue down the street to the boxsets on your TV streaming service. You’ll be expected to become pro-active. Don’t wait for things to come to you, go out and get involved with enthusiasts and professionals. The two can overlap quite frequently!
When thinking about a performing arts management degree the best starting point is experience. Qualifications are fine and dandy and an important part of the process but it’s not the be and end all. You have to broaden your approach to get the best out of your chosen course. The best arts administrators are those with a fully-rounded approach to work and indeed life.
Building work experience
Work experience is the first and most obvious recommendation for a budding performing arts manager. Get a feel for a local arts organization and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. Community engagement is becoming a major part of this field. Working with your local community on any event from a dance contest to a full blown festival is a great way to begin your creative and professional journey. This is often unpaid work but nevertheless it’s vital for both your development and experience. This line of work is largely concerned with interaction. When you get to be a pro you’ll be negotiating with people at different levels and they won’t all be as friendly as the individuals in your neighbourhood… so make the most of them!
With that idea of multiple levels in mind it’s best to involve yourself in as much activity as possible. The arts are competitive and many budding talents are trying to break in. You’ll need as broad an experience as you can get. When you’re not outside in the physical world you can hone your skills indoors writing a blog or reviewing productions online. The more info you take in the better idea you’ll have of what goes into a performance. Thankfully this is the age of full disclosure where behind the scenes teams are willing to go into forensic detail about how they achieved this look or that sequence. Absorb as much as you can. You never know when it’ll come in useful.
Social media is a no brainer when it comes to finding opportunities. Organizations are active on various feeds and all it takes is a couple of clicks to follow them. From there you can access a wealth of links to websites and artistic endeavours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the very bottom or climbing the ladder, you have to stay connected with people. A good manager is always making new contacts and nurturing networks within an established group. The more names you know the greater the scope for professional development. It also puts you in the loop for upcoming vacancies, many of which are advertised privately.
Once you’re ready to take it to the next level you’ll want to be looking into the right qualifications. A degree in performing arts management or a related degree in something like events management is the accepted method of entry when it comes to being considered for a role in arts administration. It can be done without an academic background but that will depend on your level of experience. If you’re green and just starting out an employer will see a qualification as proof you understand the basics of the industry and can handle the responsibility involved.
After securing employment you can then study for an advanced degree and expand your knowledge base. The arts is an evolving and flexible sector. It offers part time roles if you want to learn while you earn. In fact this is good training for the job of performing arts manager as a key aspect of this is fundraising, seeking investment from public and private bodies.
A crucial thing to remember about performing arts administration is its combo of the creative and the practical. These two aspects should work in harmony and neither should be taken for granted. The job is intellectual but also instinctive. You’re a business person but additionally an artist. It is one of the only positions in life where you can get that full professional experience.