Artistic Director Career Profile (French version available)
An event like a play or a ballet can seem very simple to the people in the audience, but a lot of work goes into putting everything together. Many people are part of the process, but one of the most important is the artistic director. People in this job work with playwrights, directors, managers, and others involved in a production to help make it all come together. If you enjoy the performing arts and are good at dealing with people, this job could be a good choice.
Many artistic directors work with theatre companies, where the first task is to choose what to perform with the group. This aspect can be difficult since the artistic director needs to consider the abilities of the performers, the cost of setting up the stage, and much more. An artistic director might choose a play that has already been written or commission someone to write a new one, depending on the theatrical group and what kinds of plays are available. The selection of plays might follow a theme or be based on other criteria.
Once the schedule is set, the artistic director begins to make arrangements for the season. This part involves hiring managers, set and costume designers, performers, and anyone else who is needed for the show. Dealing with the budget is also an important part of an artistic director’s job, and being able to speak with people at charities, government agencies, and other funding groups is important.
As with many jobs, being able to read and write well is important for artistic directors. In high school, courses in English and mathematics are useful. Theatre courses are also good, and business courses could also be valuable. Over half of artistic directors have a bachelor’s degree and some have a master’s degree. However, in some cases, someone with high school or a GED can find work as an artistic director. Generally, salaries start at $50,000 and can rise to $113,000 per year.
Working as an artistic director normally does not involve much physical strength, but it can require endurance to manage long days. Normally the work is indoors, although some people might work in outdoor theatres. Being able to work with people, including possibly spending long periods of time on the phone, is important.
Artistic directors require patience, persistence, and an ability to make good choices. A bad choice of play or a wrong theatre could cost the group large amounts of money. Thus, artistic directors need to be sure to gather their information carefully and to find the best options for what they need. Much of these kinds of information comes with experience, but even young artistic directors can find a good group of people to help them.
Normally, an artistic director will personally direct at least one performance each year. This task involves knowing about acting, movement on the stage, special effects, costumes, and anything else that is part of the performance. The artistic director should have a wide range of knowledge about the theatre and about different styles of acting. For some productions, the artistic director might need to know about music, dancing, sword fighting, or other special skills.
Working as an artistic director can be a challenging job, but it can also be exciting for people who enjoy the performing arts. It could be the right job for you.
American Association of Community Theatre. “Artistic Director.” https://aact.org/artistic-director.
Glassdoor. “Artistic Director Salaries in Canada.” https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/artistic-director-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm.
IESA: Arts & Education. “Artistic Director: Job Description.” https://www.iesa.edu/paris/news-events/artistic-director.
Payscale Canada. “Average Artistic Director Salary in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Artistic_Director/Salary.
Zippia. “How To Become an Artistic Director.” https://www.zippia.com/artistic-director-jobs/.