Arts administrator: job description

Arts administrators organise, promote and support artistic performances and exhibitions.

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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 work, front-of-house work and festival organisation. There's 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 resources.

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 or exhibition and they will be working alongside people who are passionate about their jobs.

Typical employers of arts administrators

  • 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, orchestras and other performing groups
  • Universities and music colleges.

Look for jobs on specialist sites such as the Arts Council's Arts Jobs website. Keep your eyes on social media, local newspapers and community news sources too: arts organisations don't have large budgets and are likely to focus on free or low-cost recruitment advertising. If you have contacts in arts organisations, ask them about internal vacancies.

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.

Qualifications and training required

You don't need a degree to become an arts administrator. However, 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.

You'll also need to demonstrate a passion for the arts. Think about voluntary work and part-time work, helping with university events or getting involved with music festivals to show your commitment. There are many sites that list opportunities to volunteer at music festivals.

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Key skills for arts administrators

You'll need good communications skills to manage artists and engage with the public. Other key skills and qualities include:

  • organisational skills and numeracy
  • the ability to negotiate contracts
  • confidence in managing budgets
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • experience of promoting and publicising events
  • IT skills, including familiarity with popular social media platforms.

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