If you've got a passion for the theatre and have excellent leadership and organisational skills, the role of theatre manager could be for you
As a theatre manager, you'll have responsibility for the personnel, financial and administrative aspects of the theatre. You'll need to be commercially minded as you may be responsible for leading marketing and publicity activities.
You'll recruit and manage staff from the box office to back stage and will be responsible for HR processes such as training.
Customer care is also a crucial part of the role to ensure the public get the most out of their experience when visiting the theatre.
Your role will vary depending on the size of the venue. In smaller theatres, you may be responsible for all of the areas mentioned above, while in larger venues, you may just be involved in one aspect, while other managers take responsibility for specific sections such as finance or HR.
As a theatre manager, you'll need to:
There are no set pay scales for this role. You may start by working in the front of house at a small theatre and then progress to larger venues and usually better pay. A good reputation in the theatre world may mean that you can negotiate your own salary.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Due to theatre opening times, working hours are generally varied and unsocial. You'll be expected to regularly carry out weekend and evening work.
Most jobs are full time and you'll be employed by the theatre company, sometimes on a fixed-term contract. There are also opportunities for freelance consultancy work.
You can become a theatre manager with a degree in any subject, but the following may be particularly helpful:
It's also possible to enter the profession with a HND or foundation degree and relevant subjects include:
Entry without a degree/HND/foundation degree may be possible as practical theatre experience, dedication and enthusiasm are rated highly by employers. They will often look for the skills you have rather than formal qualifications.
Postgraduate study is not essential, although if you have an unrelated degree you may consider taking a postgraduate course in arts administration to build on your knowledge. However, it's worth checking employers' requirements before undertaking this.
Search for postgraduate courses in arts management.
You will need to have:
To progress into theatre management, you also need to demonstrate that you are dedicated, determined and resilient.
It's important that you have previous work experience as most theatre companies expect to see evidence of at least some of the following:
To help break into this career get involved in the theatre as much as possible. Go and see as many productions as you can and talk to the people who have developed them.
Gain experience in working with performing artists and keep up to date with what's going on in the theatre industry, on a national and local level. Reading industry press, such as The Stage, can help with this.
There are two main types of theatre in the UK. These are repertory theatres, which have a resident company producing its own work and presenting plays from a repertoire, and non-repertory or receiving theatres that buy in plays and other productions.
Typical employers include:
Look for job vacanies at:
Individual theatres may put job adverts on their own websites so check those that you're interested in.
Some jobs are filled by word of mouth (reputations become known in theatre circles) or by advertisements appearing in in-house publications. Look out for alternative job titles, or jobs which include the management of specific areas within a theatre, for example:
Training is generally on the job and there is no specific method or structured course of training that is followed in every theatre.
Most training is informal, although occasional in-house courses may be provided. Seminars and training courses are run by UK Theatre. Various topics are covered including:
It also runs a mentoring programme and hosts networking events where you can meet other arts professionals. Find out more at UK Theatre Training and Events.
Reading specialist press, for example The Stage and UK Theatre Magazine, helps keep you up to date with the latest news and opinion affecting the profession and can be useful for anticipating future career opportunities.
Some higher education institutions offer postgraduate courses in arts administration on a part-time or distance learning basis, allowing you to take the qualification while working.
Entry is not normally directly into a theatre manager post. You're more likely to work your way up through a range of work in theatres, including managing specific functions, such as front of house. There are many different routes in, for example through marketing, administration or technical experience.
You may gain an assistant management post before working your way up to general manager.
You can expect to spend between two and five years in your first management job to gain experience. It's then likely that you'll move on to a larger theatre or different type of organisation in order to enhance and develop the skills and expertise you need to progress in your career.
Progression to larger, more prestigious venues is often dependent upon having an established reputation. This can be enhanced by:
You may also gain experience by accepting fixed-term contracts or project work opportunities, perhaps related to developing a new venue or organising a particular event or festival.
With experience, opportunities to move into freelance consultancy work may open up possibly within arts administration or cultural development.
Becoming a member of UK Theatre may increase your level of networking and awareness of developments in the profession, which may lead to other job opportunities.