The Arts can be divided in several different ways including arts administration, museums/galleries, performing arts/theatres and visual arts.
Arts administration, also known as arts management, is composed of professionals working behind the scenes to operate the business side of an arts or cultural organization. Arts administrators are the bridge between art, artists and audiences.
The focus of museums and galleries is on preservation and exhibition. They are operated by nonprofits and for-profits including colleges, universities and every level of government. Some are managed by a large staff and others are run solely by volunteers.
Performing Arts / Theatres / Music
Performing arts include those who perform on stage, as well as those who work “behind the scenes.”
Professionals in this industry create work visual in nature. The visual arts can be divided into four categories: commercial art, fine art, craft, and multimedia art.
Skills to develop for success in this field
- Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment
- Active listening
- Attention to detail
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Verbal and written communication
- Willingness to learn
Online resources specific to the industry
- Vault* is a comprehensive resource for information on what it is like to work within an industry, company or profession.
*Note: Login via the NCA Resources page using your NetID and password, and create your own account using your NU email address.
Log in to check out these resources for more specific information about careers in the arts and related fields:
- Vault Guide to Museum and Cultural Center Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 21 careers including museum conservation, grant writing, exhibit designer and more.
- Vault Guide to Visual Arts Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 25 art-related careers including fashion designers, graphic designers, illustrators, multimedia artists and more.
- Vault Guide to Photography Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 15 careers including photo editors, photojournalists, art directors and more.
- Vault Guide to Dance Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 11 careers including choreographers, dance instructors, dance school owners, performers and more.
- Vault Guide to Theater Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 24 careers including actors, composers and arrangers, playwrights, stage manners and more.
- Vault Guide to Music Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 18 careers including audio recording engineers, musicians/artists, music agents and more.
- Vault Guide to Performing Arts Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 20 careers including dancers, actors, music venue owners, musicians, stage managers, theater managers and more.
- Vault Guide to Nonprofit Jobs: Provides essential information such as salary, work environment and job outlook for 27 careers including museum directors and curators, non profit social service directors, fund-raisers and more.
Job posting and career information sites relevant to the field:
- American Alliance of Museums: Identify jobs and career resources related to museum work.
- Backstage: Backstage is a resource for actors and performers to find high-quality roles to match their interests and career goals in theater, film, tv and more.
- Chicago Artists Coalition :Chicago based careers in the arts.
- Idealist: Internship, volunteer and job postings in the nonprofit sector including areas within the arts, culture and other mission-oriented causes.
- New England Conservatory's Bridge: Opportunities in music and arts administration, including auditions, teaching positions, administrative positions, competitions, grants, scholarships, and festivals.
- NPO: Connects non-profit organizations with purpose-driven professionals to find jobs and internships.
- Playbill: Theatre related opportunities: acting, internships, administrative, design, technical, and all other stage employment.
- The Association of Art Museum Curators: Fulltime, internship and fellowship opportunities
Key information or knowledge for this field
Getting your foot in the door:
- Volunteer with the organization. Showing your interest in the mission and goals of that organization by putting in the time and effort on a volunteer basis further shows your commitment. One of the great benefits is that you will be able to engage with staff and get to know them, becoming a recognizable face to the organization. Volunteering gives you access to informational interviews to learn about the work.
- Start with internships. Be open to opportunities you may not have thought of initially. Getting a full-time job without previous experience in the arts can be very challenging. Most organizations consider people who have previous experience within the arts and taking on an internship as a first step will help you get familiar with the organization and also showcase your work.
- Networking: Visit the arts organization if they have patron visits available and engage with the staff where appropriate. Attend their hosted events and introduce yourself so you connect with people after the event as well.
- Join the Northwestern Alumni Association
- Use LinkedIn to search for alumni and join relevant groups
- Join the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program
- Attend arts and culture related campus-based events and speakers
Relevant student groups and professional organizations
Northwestern Student Groups:
- Lipstick Theatre
- Meow Improv & Sketch Comedy
- Northwestern Art Review
- NU NafME Collegiate
- Out Da Box
- Scene + Heard
- Seesaw Theatre
- The Waa-Mu Show
External Professional Organizations:
- Actor’s Equity Association
- American Alliance of Museums
- American Federation of Musicians
- American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
- Americans for the Arts
- Association of Museums
- Association of Performing Arts Professionals
- College Art Association of America
- International Society for Music Education
- International Society for the Performing Arts
- National Art Education Association
- National Association for Music Education (NafME)
- National Council of Art Administrators
- Screen Actor’s Guild