Jan 15, 2020

Administrative Careers in the Performing Arts

By: Megan Anderson

A career in the performing arts can lead to so many possibilities. Whether you are just starting out as a recent college graduate or perhaps you followed a different career path in life and are looking to make a shift - there’s a place for you in the arts that can fit your goals and skills. 

If pursuing a career in the performing arts is something you are passionate about, there are so many opportunities waiting for you to explore that you may not have considered before. This three part blog series will help introduce you to some career possibilities in creative, administrative/arts management, and production fields. 

This post focuses on careers in the administrative/arts management area of the performing arts. These are the individuals that operate behind the scenes at an arts organization. Being part of this side of the arts gives you the chance to be part of the logistics and daily tasks that help the creative and production teams do what they do on a stage. Whether it’s helping raise funds for new projects or negotiating contracts with artists - arts managers help keep everything operating smoothly. Read our other posts about creative careers in the performing arts and production careers in the performing arts

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Playhouse Square’s Dazzle Award Ceremony Set-Up Day!
Elizabeth Eberts (Community Programs Manager), Amber
Mcintyre (Education Program Supervisor), Hannah Twining
(Outreach Program Coordinator)

ADMINISTRATION/ARTS MANAGEMENT

Agent – An agent helps actors, directors, writers, musicians and sometimes designers find employment in the theater community. A booking agent makes reservations for travel or performances, as well as engagements for performers.  

Community Engagement & Education – This is a department that helps encourage artistic creation and appreciation in the community. This is done by hosting children’s theater performances, workshops, and other engagement activities to help students learn about theater.

Company Manager – A company manager handles the daily needs of a company of performers, especially in the case of a touring production. These needs include room and board, transportation, stipends and medical assistance. This person is also responsible for communicating with the venue for various needs and settling the money at the end of a show run in a city with the venue.

Development – Development is a department that helps with acquiring funds for a theater company or production. A theater company might hold a fundraiser to encourage patrons and community members to financially support a season of plays or one specific production or seek out a grant to fund a project. In some cases, theater companies raise money to construct or improve a performance space. This department usually consists of grant writers, donor relationship managers, and more.

 
Some of Playhouse Square’s Development department promoting
Partners, the young professionals group at Playhouse Square

Annie Weiss (Development Coordinator), Jason Bogdany (Development
Database Coordinator), Sarah Stengel (Partners Membership Coordinator),
David Turner (Donor & Box Holder Relations Coordinator)

 

Executive Director – An executive director is the managing director of an arts organization and is responsible for business and financial planning.  

Facilities/Maintenance/Housekeeping: This department refers to individuals who help with the upkeep of a theater or performing arts center. Responsibilities can include theater renovations, fixing and maintaining theater fixtures, and ensuring the theater is clean for when guests and shows arrive. Individuals who are skilled with electrics, painting, carpentry, architecture, or other similar skills may have an interest in this area.

Finance/Accounting – Finance refers to the management of funds for a show or a theater/performing arts center. Accounting is the process of keeping track of the company’s financial spending, records and transactions. 

Front of House/Guest Experience – This department focuses on the patron experience at shows and events. It might include overseeing volunteers who are taking tickets at the show and answering guest questions. Opportunities can range from a house manager, volunteer coordinator, and more. 

 
Evergreene Architectural Arts working on the renovation to the Mimi
Ohio Lobby at Playhouse Square. Photo Credit: Gus Chan, The Plain Dealer

 

Human Resources – A human resources professional or department deals with hiring and training a company’s staff. 

Information Service/Technology/Electronic Media – At a performing arts center, this department helps with the installation, support, and maintenance of digital boards and IT equipment. This can be in the administrative offices, theaters, or any equipment on the outside of the theaters such as a marquee. 

Marketing/Public Relations – A performing arts organization uses marketing to advertise and promote events to the public. This can range from writing press releases, placing ads, communicating with show marketing agents, and social media interaction.  A performing arts organization uses public relations to manage the flow of information between itself and the public regarding items of public interest or news related to the organization’s events and mission. 

Office Manager - An office manager can assist with keeping the office in smooth working order. From organizing mail, ordering supplies, front desk assistance and more. 


Stefan Drotleff (Senior Manager of Electronic Media) scheduling
updates to our digital boards in the Playhouse Square District. 

Programming – Someone who works in programming helps develop the services offered to the public by an arts organization, including classes, trips, lectures, presentations and other special events. A talent buyer purchases artists’ contracts for particular performances. 

Security – Security is an important part of ensuring performances happen in a safe and secure manner. Security officers help with backstage door monitoring, crowd control, and VIP guest oversight, just to name a few responsibilities.

Ticket Sales & Service – Ticket sales and service handles all operations related to ticketing. This could range from selling a ticket, building the theater map online to make it possible for a person to buy a ticket, or printing and distributing tickets to guests. Sales of tickets can be to an individual or group for one show or for an entire series of shows like the Keybank Broadway Series. 

Special Events – Special events are programs hosted at a theater that are not a performance - such as a cocktail reception or VIP meet and greet. Individuals are responsible for helping plan the logistics from rental items, budgeting, and working with clients to help make their event happen. 


Brendan Healy (Senior Manager of Ticket Systems) building
a show in Playhouse Square’s ticketing system.

How Do I Get Involved?

After reading all the possible ways to be part of the arts, you might be wondering what you should do next? Below are a few programs at Playhouse Square that can help!

Broadway Summer Camp - Playhouse Square’s annual Broadway Summer Camp for high school students - incoming freshman through outgoing seniors (typically ages 14-18) - is a one week intensive focusing on the triple threat of musical theater – acting, singing and dancing. 

Careers at Playhouse Square - Check out the current job and internship openings at Playhouse Square.

College Open House - Playhouse Square’s College Open House is a free non-ticketed event featuring Ohio colleges/universities with degrees in musical theater, theater administration, technical theater, and performance specialties. This event gives students the opportunity to connect with recruiters and gather application and audition information. 

High School Senior Project Program - Over the course of two weeks, students have the opportunity to learn about the operation of both Playhouse Square and Cleveland Play House by attending meetings, learning about our performance spaces, and participating in department activities. Learn more about the High School Senior Project Program.

Launch - Artists, collectives, and companies can take residency at Playhouse Square through the Launch program.

Staging Success Career Fair - ‘Staging Success’ is a one day event geared towards networking for early career opportunities and internships in arts management, technical/production, film/video, and stage management. Meet with producers of national tours, production houses, lighting & sound companies, and more! Check out the Staging Success Career Fair.

Volunteer -  Being a volunteer is a great way to be involved with the arts without making it a full-time commitment. Learn more about becoming a volunteer at Playhouse Square.


Mileena Norman (Community Engagement & Education Intern),
Trish Hruby (Program Manager), Sheffia Dooley (Assistant Director
of CommunityEngagement & Education) Photo Credit: Cody York