Theatre management involves running the financial, marketing, human resources and sales activities of a performance venue. Learn about job duties, career possibilities and outlook, related educational programs and courses of study.
Theatre managers are responsible for the business operations of theatres or theatre companies. In this position, you are responsible for managing the marketing, sales and media relations of the venue. You may also be responsible for overseeing the hiring of performers and the production and development of performances.
Your salary may vary depending on the type of theatre you manage, your level of experience and your location. According to PayScale.com, in April 2014, theatre managers earned a median salary of $36,932. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of entertainers and performers, sports and related workers, which includes theatre managers, is expected to increase 8% from 2012-2022; this is a little lower than the projected average employment increase of 11% across all occupations during that same decade.
Bachelor's and master's level programs in theatre management are available, usually leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts degree. The curriculum likely includes courses in financial management, marketing, fundraising and public policy. Theatre history, criticism and development are also studied. As an aspiring theatre manager, you should gain hands-on experience through an internship or related program, where you can assume a management role in advertising, group sales, ticketing, house management or media relations.
A bachelor's degree program in theatre management should introduce you to a mix of arts administration and management. Typically, this degree requires four years. Expect a curriculum that includes theatrical productions and literature, performance arts management, human resources and the principles of commercial theatre. A core curriculum may include English, philosophy, quantitative reasoning and other liberal arts courses. Obtaining this degree is usually the minimum requirement for a theatre manager. Participation in internships and fellowships may improve your job prospects. You may be able to choose management as a concentration in a theatre arts program. Given the competitive nature of the theatre business, graduates of the program may have to work toward theatre manager careers from lower-level leadership positions.
A master's degree program in theatre management can prepare you for the high levels of responsibility and leadership necessary to successfully manage a theatre. Over the course of three years, you study business principles such as accounting, management and marketing. In addition, the curriculum will help you become well-versed in contracts, producing, development and law in relation to the arts. Modules on business writing, working with actors, entrepreneurship, the life of playwrights and nonprofits are beneficial. You could also pursue a joint degree in management for additional business skills and experience. Some Master of Fine Arts degree programs may require the completion of a thesis in order to graduate.
The work environment for actors, directors and theatre managers is stressful, and involves a constant pressure to succeed. As a theatre manager you must be patient and committed, as well as have the ability to endure in spite of intense competition, grueling production schedules and difficult work conditions; working late hours and on weekends is common. As a theatre manager, you should have strong interpersonal and analytical thinking skills. Leadership and decision-making skills are also needed to organize the creative atmosphere of a theatre along with other theatre professionals.