Careers in the Arts

Go to the Careers Service and you’ll find a wealth of information about corporate graduate jobs, but what about those wishing to pursue careers in the Arts? Impact’s Anne Moore interviewed Andy Dawson, a Youth Arts Manager and Andrew Breakwell, Director of Education at Nottingham Playhouse, to find out about their career paths and gain a valuable insight into jobs in the arts world.

Interview with Andy Dawson: Youth Work Manager for County Youth Arts in Nottingham.

What has your career path been?

I didn’t attend university, which is unusual when I speak to colleagues. I was in a signed band from the age of 19, and I didn’t get into arts until I was 23, which was only supposed to be to work around my band. I started putting on gigs and workshops; I got into tech stuff like sound engineering and lighting design. I worked with drama and dance companies, and I started running events. I ran a music project, did lighting design for a few shows in London and eventually drifted in to arts development.
You job seems very varied, but what could happen in a ‘typical’ day?
Emails, meetings, telephone calls, budgets, funding bids, interviews, planning, training… oh and some arts projects!

What are the positives and negatives aspects of your job?

Positives are the projects and young people, sadly as a manager I have to look after many staff, a building, technicians…Most of our work has to be funded via external money, so fundraising and income generation is a big deal. The hardest thing for me is managing a team of people and supporting them. I have to say that they are a great bunch of people.

How many different projects do you offer at the same time? Could you outline any current projects you are working on?

We are running building projects which include three youth dance projects, one drama project, one visual arts project, one rock school project, one young promoters group, a music project for referred pupils, a thirty-hour media course, and we host events and workshops for other people
We are about to host an arts festival for Mansfield plus a young people’s arts festival the week after and we have been running an environment project for six months, a careers project for a year and a showcase event over five months.

Careers in…Theatre: An interview with Andrew Breakwell, Director of Education at the Nottingham Playhouse

How would someone with a degree that’s not specifically related to the Arts go about getting involved in the industry?

Well, the directors themselves often have an extra qualification specialising in the theatre after their normal degree programme, for example an MA in a theatre-related study. What we would say to someone who wanted to be a director is to go and put a company together, to perform their play, maybe take it to Edinburgh; we try and give students an opportunity, but they also need to have some entrepreneurial skills, and the ability to make something happen!

What are the pros and cons of working in theatre?

Despite the antisocial hours and potentially low pay, a career in the theatre can offer plenty of job satisfaction and variety. For example, I recently travelled to Bratislava to manage a joint theatre production of ‘The Island’ by Armin Greder.

What kind of opportunities are there for students at Nottingham to get involved in theatre, alongside their studies?

Some students already work at the Playhouse. Design students sometimes work to help with set design and costume, and work experience with a specific department (education, marketing or administration) can be arranged. This could lead to a job as an usher at the ‘front of house’ and then onto a box office job, handling cash and tickets. To reach the top, you really have to work your way up the ladder. You have to be determined that you want to do it, you have to be able to multi-task between several different projects; we’re looking for people with commitment.


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