Arts Administrator

The Job and What's Involved

Arts administrators plan and organise cultural and arts activities. They work in organisations such as local authorities, arts centres, theatres and regional arts boards.

Other potential employers include:

- Museums and galleries
- Performing arts organisations
- Arts festivals
- Disability arts organisations
- Arts councils

As an arts administrator, your work would vary according to the size and type of organisation, but could include:

- Arranging venues and artists
- Working with local arts organisations
- Negotiating sponsorship and funding
- Organising publicity and ticket sales
- Organising security and catering
- Managing budgets and keeping records
- Carrying out general administration

In small galleries and arts centres you could be involved in the whole day-to-day running of the centre. In larger organisations, such as arts boards, you may specialise in one area, for example marketing, public relations or education.

Your working hours would vary depending on the particular job. For example, you may work evenings or weekends if you are involved in performances, festivals or exhibitions.

You would have an office base, but would usually travel to attend events and performances, or to meet with artists and arts organisations.

Salaries can start at around £15,000 a year. Experienced staff can earn up to £27,000 and senior staff can earn up to £50,000.

Some salaries may be related to local government administrator scales.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Competition for work is strong and many jobs are not advertised, so making contacts and gaining experience on a temporary or voluntary basis is important. Many organisations have volunteers working alongside paid workers, and some are run entirely by volunteers.

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications for becoming an arts administrator - the real key to this work is relevant experience, which you could get through volunteering or temporary work.

Ways of gaining experience include:

  • Helping with student or community drama productions or concerts.
  • Getting involved with community events such as street carnivals.
  • Working in front of house or box office in arts centres, cinemas or theatres.
  • Taking temporary work, for example with arts festivals.

Visit the Arts Council website for details of local arts organisations which may have opportunities for volunteering or temporary work. You can also get information from arts officers in your local authority and from Voluntary Arts.

You would also need general administration skills, and you may find it useful to have qualifications or experience in areas such as word processing, book-keeping, public relations and marketing. You may be able to start as an assistant or secretary in an arts organisation and work your way up.

Many arts administrators are graduates, so a degree could be an advantage, although not essential. Relevant subjects include arts management, arts administration options in other arts-related degrees, events and entertainment management, and business studies.

Some postgraduate courses include work placements in arts organisations, which can be useful for developing contacts.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are working in arts administration, you can develop your skills by attending short courses. These are run by organisations such as the AMA and the Independent Theatre Council.

You could also work towards qualifications such as:

NVQ's in Cultural Heritage Operations (Level 3), Cultural Heritage (Level 4) and Cultural Heritage Management (Level 5)

The exams of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).

Part-time postgraduate certificates, diplomas or degrees in arts administration or arts management.

Adding to your skills and knowledge, for example in areas such as human resources, accountancy, arts-related law and marketing, will be useful for developing your career.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An arts administrator needs:

  • An interest in the arts in general, or a particular art form.
  • Administrative and computer skills.
  • Good written and spoken communication skills.
  • The ability to organise and prioritise work.
  • Problem solving skills.
  • Good time-management skills.
  • The ability to meet deadlines and keep calm under pressure.
  • Commercial awareness.
  • The ability to make information accessible to a wide range of people.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience you could become an arts officer or manager, do freelance work or become a consultant for organisations developing arts policies.

Get Further Information

Get Into Theatre

Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
16 Park Crescent, London W1B 1AH
Tel: 020 7580 4741

Independent Theatre Council

Arts Council England
Tel: 0845 300 6200


British Arts Festivals Association

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