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Navigating the World of Arts Administration

Crowd at a concert

What is Arts Administration?

Arts administration is a vibrant and essential field that bridges the gap between creativity and management in the arts and cultural sector. It plays a crucial role in ensuring that artistic endeavors thrive by handling the business, logistical, and organizational aspects of cultural institutions, performance spaces, museums, galleries, and more.

Often referred to as arts management, arts administration involves the management and coordination of artistic and cultural organizations. This field encompasses a wide range of roles, from managing budgets and fundraising to marketing, event planning, and curatorial work. Arts administrators act as the behind-the-scenes architects who make artistic visions come to life, ensuring that the arts are accessible and sustainable.

How to Prepare for a Career in Arts Administration

  1. Choose the Right Major and Courses

While arts administration programs exist, they are not the only path into the field. Many arts administrators have diverse educational backgrounds in areas such as arts management, business administration, nonprofit management, or even a specific artistic discipline like music, visual arts, or theater. To start, consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but be sure to include coursework in business, finance, marketing, and nonprofit management to gain a well-rounded foundation.

  1. Gain Practical Experience

Getting hands-on experience is invaluable in arts administration. Seek out internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time jobs at local arts organizations, museums, or cultural institutions. These experiences will give you a firsthand look at the day-to-day operations and challenges faced in the field. Additionally, they can help you build a network of contacts and references.

  1. Develop Strong Communication and Leadership Skills

Effective communication is essential in arts administration. Arts administrators often work with diverse groups of people, including artists, donors, board members, and the general public. Hone your communication skills, both written and verbal, to convey ideas, facilitate collaboration, and represent your organization professionally.

Leadership skills are equally important. Arts administrators must guide their teams, make critical decisions, and manage resources efficiently. Consider taking leadership courses or seeking leadership roles in student organizations to develop these skills.

  1. Embrace Technology

In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in arts administration. Familiarize yourself with relevant software for budgeting, marketing, and database management. Proficiency in social media and online fundraising platforms can also be highly beneficial.

  1. Attend Networking Events and Conferences

Building a strong professional network is crucial for success in arts administration. Attend conferences, seminars, and industry events to meet fellow professionals, learn from experts, and stay updated on industry trends. Many organizations offer student discounts for these events.

  1. Pursue Advanced Education

Consider pursuing a master’s degree in arts administration or a related field. While not always required, it can provide you with a competitive edge in a competitive job market and open doors to higher-level positions.


Arts administration is a fulfilling career that allows you to combine your passion for the arts with your organizational and management skills. To prepare for a successful career in this field, focus on your education, gain practical experience, and develop strong communication and leadership abilities. With dedication and a commitment to the arts, you can play a vital role in supporting and advancing the cultural landscape for future generations.

Example Arts Administration Job Titles:

  • Arts Administrator: A general term that can refer to various administrative roles within arts organizations.
  • Executive Director: The top leadership position responsible for overall management and strategic direction of an arts organization.
  • Development Director or Fundraising Manager: Manages fundraising efforts, grant applications, donor relations, and development strategies.
  • Marketing and Communications Manager: Oversees promotional campaigns, advertising, social media, public relations, and communication efforts to attract audiences and patrons.
  • Program Manager or Curator: Responsible for planning, organizing, and curating exhibitions, performances, or educational programs.
  • Finance Manager or Controller: Handles budgeting, financial planning, accounting, and financial reporting for the organization.
  • Education Coordinator: Develops and manages educational programs and outreach initiatives, often in museums or arts education institutions.
  • Box Office Manager: Manages ticketing operations, customer service, and audience management for performing arts venues.
  • Gallery Manager or Curatorial Assistant: Assists in the management and curation of gallery exhibitions, collections, and installations.
  • Event Planner: Plans and coordinates special events, fundraisers, galas, and performances hosted by arts organizations.
  • Membership Manager: Oversees membership programs, recruitment, and engagement strategies to build a loyal supporter base.
  • Publications Manager or Editor: Manages the production of catalogs, brochures, and other printed materials related to exhibitions and events.
  • Human Resources Manager: Handles personnel matters, including hiring, staff development, and compliance with labor laws.
  • Facility Manager: Manages the maintenance and operation of the physical space, such as theaters, galleries, or museums.
  • Grant Writer: Specializes in writing grant proposals and securing funding from government agencies, foundations, and private donors.
  • Community Engagement Coordinator: Works on initiatives to engage the local community, foster partnerships, and promote cultural inclusion.
  • Legal Counsel: Provides legal guidance on contracts, intellectual property, and compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Technology and Digital Media Coordinator: Oversees digital platforms, website management, and online content development.
  • Archivist: Manages and preserves historical records, artifacts, or collections in cultural institutions like museums and libraries.
  • Visitor Services Manager: Focuses on providing an exceptional visitor experience, including ticketing, guest services, and information.

An Introduction to Nonprofits

Nonprofits are a great way to directly impact a cause or issue that needs improvement. Whether that means enacting a positive impact on a specific community or a societal issue, there a numerous ways to get into the world of Nonprofits!

What is a Nonprofit?

A nonprofit is an organization that generates a profit for a purpose other than the financial gain of the organization and their employees. Nonprofits are founded in order to provide money/resources/programs/etc. to all different kinds of targeted audiences. A very common misconception about nonprofits is that the employees of these organizations don’t get paid for their work because of the non-business aspect, but workers typically receive similar salaries just like any other business. Which means working in the nonprofit world is a great job/internship/volunteer opportunity for anyone who is looking to give back to a cause they are passionate about both directly and indirectly.

Some typical departments at nonprofits include:

Executive/Top Management
These positions oversee the direction and strategy of the organization at either the local or national level. Some example job titles include:

  • Director/Executive Director
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Board Member
  • Director of Philanthropy
  • Development Director
  • Advocacy Director
  • Volunteer Director

These positions are in charge of the day to day duties that are necessary in order to keep the organization running smoothly. Some example job titles include:

  • Community Service/Project Coordinator
  • Nonprofit Administrator
  • Aides Supervisor
  • Financial Aid Representative
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Volunteer Manager

These positions mainly focus on promoting the organization to potential donors, target audiences, and community members. Some example job titles include:

  • Director/Vice-President of Communications
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Communications Manager
  • Grant Proposal Manager
  • Advocacy Director
  • Fundraising Coordinator
  • Marketing Associate
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Community Outreach Specialist
  • Donor Relations Manager

Health/Human Services
These positions cover a diverse array of needs within an organization, primarily to promote welfare for both physical and mental needs. Some example job titles include:

  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Social Worker
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Child Care Worker
  • Childbirth Educator
  • Counselor
  • Minister
  • Pastor
  • Labor Union Organizer
  • Policy Analyst
  • Job Developer

Popular Nonprofits + Their Purposes

– Habitat for Humanity –

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 as a Christian housing ministry. The organization raises donations and volunteer help to build actual homes for people that need them. For more information about Habitat for Humanity and how to get involved.

– Education Beyond Borders –

Education Beyond Borders is a non-profit NGO devoted to closing the global education divide through teacher professional development and community education. For more information about Education Beyond Borders and how to get involved.

– Boys & Girls Clubs of America –

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization of local chapters which provide voluntary after-school programs for young people. For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and how to get involved.

– Planned Parenthood –

Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, educator, and passionate advocate here in the U.S. as well as a strong partner to health and rights organizations around the world. For more information about Planned Parenthood and how to get involved.

– Doctors Without Borders –

Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian group dedicated to providing medical care to people in distress, including victims of political violence and natural disasters. For more information about Doctors Without Borders and how to get involved.

– Midwest Food Bank –

The Midwest Food Bank  is an American non-profit organization that gathers food donations, primarily from large companies, and distributes them to other non-profit organizations and disaster sites. For more information about the Midwest Food Bank and how to get involved.

– Save The Music Foundation –

The Save The Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization helping students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. For more information about the Save The Music Foundation and how to get involved.