If you are passionate about the arts and have an organised approach to work a career as an arts administrator could be for you
In your position as an arts administrator you will manage activities and projects provided by a range of organisations in the arts sector. These include:
The type of work that an arts administrator carries out will differ greatly between organisations depending on the size and service provided. Many of the above rely heavily on funding, which then affects the staffing structure they can maintain.
In a small company you will probably cover a number of functions from marketing and managing performers and audiences, to handling finance and insurance matters.
In larger companies the role may be in a much more specific area such as:
Arts administrator roles and job titles vary a great deal between organisations but typical tasks may include:
At a more senior level, there may be some involvement in strategic planning and management decisions.
Freelance consultants may earn higher incomes depending on the nature of the contracts they secure. Positions at all levels attract higher salaries in and around London.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
The hours you work will vary but can include evening and weekend work. This will be the case if you are involved in performances, exhibitions and festivals or if you work in smaller organisations with less staff.
Job-sharing is increasing and part-time work is often possible. Smaller organisations may only be able to offer part-time roles or fixed-term contracts due to fluctuations in funding.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, certain subjects may prove to be an advantage for some jobs. The following are particularly relevant, either at degree, diploma or certificate level:
Entry without a degree, diploma, certificate or related qualification is possible via a secretarial, support or assistant role, or after gaining administrative experience at a similar level in another field.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification, such as arts or cultural administration or management, is not essential but might be useful. However, it may be difficult to gain financial support for one of these courses and so you could consider undertaking a part-time course over two years, so that you can work at the same time.
Occasionally, graduates are able to secure funds from Research Councils UK . Some courses integrate placements in arts organisations and enable students to build their contacts and relevant experience, while the more competitive courses usually require candidates to have experience already.
You will need to show:
Jobs in the arts are highly competitive. Gaining substantial experience in administration, management and the arts is much more likely to be of benefit than a specific academic qualification. For a career in arts administration there is no substitute for relevant experience.
Administrative skills alone are not usually enough and should be enhanced with more specific experience in arts projects and events, perhaps while at university, for example:
Showing a passion for the area concerned is important.
Try to become involved in as many areas as possible. Anything from volunteering in a local art gallery to carrying out temporary work at a theatre or arts festival will be relevant. In whatever role you secure, find out who the key arts workers are in that area as any contacts you build up may be useful later on.
Arts magazines and websites are a valuable source of information for upcoming events that you may wish to become involved with. Relevant resources include:
Similarly many magazines and arts organisations have Twitter and Facebook pages where opportunities are posted. Following key people in the arts world could be beneficial in keeping up to date and finding out about changes in the industry.
Consider taking a temporary job as your first step into an arts administration career. Typical temporary roles may be on a Lottery-funded project or at an arts festival. This may provide a platform from which you can demonstrate your creative and administrative ability and allow you to network with other arts administrators.
Arts administrators can be employed in any organisation that has responsibility for organising, planning and delivering artistic or cultural events.
There are many government-funded initiatives and local partnerships which employ administrators on various short and longer-term contracts.
Many of these projects focus on development of arts activity in both urban and rural communities with a view to stimulating local economic development, addressing social inclusion and ultimately building stronger communities. These UK-wide projects are proving to be major sources of arts administration jobs. You can also find job opportunities with:
Many local authorities employ arts administrators, usually in leisure and recreation or planning and development departments.
Other organisations that employ arts administrators include arts councils and bodies involved in grant aiding, such as:
It is likely that roles within these bodies will require administrators to have some experience.
Look for job vacancies at:
Regional arts magazines and websites may also list oportunities.
Recruitment agencies may sometimes handle temporary vacancies.
Some jobs are not formally advertised, so establishing contacts is a crucial part of developing your career as they may help you to uncover hidden opportunities.
Training and continuing professional development (CPD) are vital for those who work in such diverse and often project-based roles.
In order to maintain sector knowledge and support career development opportunities, you will need to undertake ongoing training in a variety of areas such as:
There are numerous organisations that provide relevant training opportunities:
There are groups on social media dedicated to arts administration, this encourages knowledge sharing as well as providing opportunities for networking.
Jobs and promotion within arts administration are highly sought after and competition is strong.
Progression may include becoming a general manager, director or chief executive of an arts company or local authority arts division.
Working freelance for Lottery-funded projects or resident companies is another option, as is becoming a consultant, undertaking research and feasibility studies and contributing to the development of arts policies for a range of establishments.
Increasingly, organisations are partnering with European arts companies to stage joint projects to bring European artists to Britain. Working for such employers with an international reputation may allow you to develop an overseas career.
You may need to be prepared to relocate or commute in order to move jobs and gain experience, particularly in the search for senior or promotional posts.
With experience, you may make the transition from arts sector administration into public, private or voluntary sector posts where there may be greater career development and promotion opportunities.
Career development opportunities can also be found within the media industry. For example, you may wish to diversify as an arts agent or promoter, specialising in a particular aspect of the arts business and working proactively to enhance an artists career. The usual route would be to gain experience in a variety of arts administration or other commercial jobs before setting up your own licensed agency.
Alternatively you may decide to specialise in a specific area of work such as: