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Functions and Responsibilities of the Marketing Director in Performing Arts

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Depending upon the size of the organization, specific functions and responsibilities of the marketing director may vary. In smaller arts organizations, there may or may not be support personnel for assistance. If not, marketing directors are not only responsible for budget allocation and strategy development, but they find themselves running to the printers, stuffing envelopes, and doing a plethora of similar tasks.

The ultimate responsibility of the marketing director lies in the earned income of the organization. Earned income comes essentially from two sources: subscriptions and single ticket sales. Essential to both of these areas is advertising and promotion. Responsibilities in these areas include brochure development (which requires knowledge of graphics and design), writing copy, pricing, development of special events, market identification, audience development, budget development and allocation, and preparation of sales reports.

Marketing directors are usually searching for (begging is more like it) free goods and services. In addition, they need to develop a "network," an efficient means of obtaining new information. It keeps an individual in tune with the happenings in the field.

The marketing director is often a liaison with the volunteer group within the arts organizations. Volunteer groups are a valuable asset to the organization, and the marketing director becomes a public relations person in working with the volunteers to ensure their valued services. In large organizations, these may be several support personnel in the marketing department. The marketing director is then responsible for the human resource management of the department. In most organizations, there is a positive rapport among employees and a dedication to pursue the goals of the organization. This common bond is an important concept for a marketing director to remember. Although salaries and wages are usually lower in the arts, there is a particular type of dedication among employees that must be continually nurtured and developed.

Practically all arts marketing managers spend more than forty hours on the job. This is traditional among arts organizations, because they face a deadline: curtain time. Unlike large corporations, performing groups cannot recall their product for further testing or modifications. It is this type of work environment that creates the excitement and occasional stress for the marketing director.

In summary, the marketing director wears several hats. Each one requires different skills and techniques. It is an exciting and dynamic environment and one in which rewards cannot be judged by tangible factors alone.

Q - How did you get into arts management and marketing?

A - My college degree is in theater arts. I studied production and performance, and arts administration was just becoming a field. They were just starting to offer one or two courses in it, and I took those as well. My emphasis was in performance, like so many other fools. When I left college, one of my first jobs was working in a theater box office. I did that for several years. Like many people in the box office, I decided that I could handle press relations and advertising just as well as the people who were doing it. So, from there I took a position as a volunteer coordinator. The complete title was volunteer coordinator/public relations assistant. When my boss left, I was among several of the applicants for her position, and I was awarded the job based on my knowledge of the company.

Initially I spent a very few years as an actress. I found out that (1) it was not very steady work and had a lot of unemployment, and (2) that when I was working as an actress, I was writing a lot. We all did triple duty, and I was writing the press releases, the little thumbnail sketches for program copy and that type of thing.

I've always been interested in theater. Like many other people who have come into the administrative side of the performing arts, I have an interest in the performing side. I was a performer for a while. I was getting a degree in theater, and I walked over to the journalism department and got another major in PR and advertising in the school of journalism. So, after I left I had a double major in theater, speech, and journalism, with a teacher's certificate. I waited around to find out how to get involved in what I wanted to do, and a flyer came out about an internship program with a repertory theater in PR. I got the job; it paid $100 a month. I did everything from stuffing envelopes to writing copy to designing the news letter, so I really got my basic training. From there I went into a one-year internship as a public relations assistant in another city. After one year I was moved to the head of clients development and public relations. I did that for two years before I did some free-lancing. Then I went on to another city where I was director of marketing for a year. Then I came here as director of marketing.

In 1976 there were already three good arts administration programs available-at UCLA, University of Wisconsin at Madison, NYU- and Yale, of course, had its drama school. So at that time people with M.A.'s and M.B.A.'s in arts administration were coming into the field. But it's still about half and half. Someone will come in with an arts administration degree, and then someone will come in without any background at all.

Above me are the producing director, who is really head of the organization, and the managing director, who is under the producing director. Those are the two people directly above me. There are a lot of people at the same level with me. I think most arts organizations have a lot of people in the middle management rank. So I have the public relations director, production manager, intern coordinator, and operations manager with me on the administrative side. Under me, I am responsible for one assistant marketing director; a subscription manager, who has an assistant; and the box office manager, who has about four people working for him.

As in most arts organizations, here there are two separate levels, or two separate staffs. We have an administrative staff, and we have an artistic staff. In our artistic staff, we have the artistic director, the associate artistic director, the ballet director, the music director, and the dancers. Then on a completely separate side we have the general manager and staff.
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