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Arts administrator: job description

Arts administrator: job description

Arts administrators organise and promote artistic performances and exhibitions, aiding and facilitating the work of artists.
Vacancies attract fierce competition, so a demonstrable passion for the arts is vital.

What does an arts administrator do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Arts administration encompasses a wide range of roles – from community arts promotion, to theatre ‘front-of-house’ work and festival organisation. There is no ‘typical’ job profile and arts administrators may have marketing, advertising, publicity, market research or public relations roles. Alternatively, they may be responsible for general or financial administration, project management, accountancy or human resource management.

Irregular hours are common but there are advantages to the job; arts administrators can expect to be some of the first people to see a new show and they will be working alongside people who are very passionate about their jobs.

Vacancies are advertised in newspapers, regional arts magazines and specialist publications such as The Musical Times and The Stage and their online equivalents. As with many roles in the sector, starting salaries are fairly low and you may have to take up a lot of short term or seasonal contracts.

Typical employers of arts administrators

  • Regional arts boards (RABs)
  • Government-funded arts councils of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Local authorities
  • Charities
  • Theatres
  • Galleries, museums and arts centres
  • Festival/venue offices
  • Dance companies
  • Universities

Qualifications and training required

While no specific degree subject is required, an arts administration MA, or an artistic or business management qualification can be helpful. Vacancies attract fierce competition, so a strong body of relevant work experience is vital. This can be gained by volunteering or working part-time with venues, helping to organise university events or by assisting with arts festivals. A demonstrable passion for the arts is vital.

Key skills for arts administrators

Administrators will need to have good communication skills in order to manage artists and engage with the public. Other key skills include:

  • numeracy
  • negotiating contracts
  • managing budgets
  • working well under pressure
  • promoting and publicising events
  • IT skills
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