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A Typical Career Path for Marketing Director of Performing Arts

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Q - Can you describe a typical career path?

A - I don't think there is such a thing as a typical career path. Management in the arts has a path all its own, and the personalities, the people, and the chemistry of it all make it a very small network in a strange way, even though it may be spread out all over the country. You tend to know who the people are. Therefore, it's a very personal thing. For instance, when a job opens up, the tendency is to find someone within the network of people one knows.

Most arts organizations are small. Even our organization, which is large, is administratively small. There is very little room for staff people to move up within the organization. Anyone going into the arts must expect to make a lot of lateral moves. Climbing through an organization from copy boy to president is not likely in the arts. There is only one person I know who did that.

There really has to be movement to other organizations in order to get the necessary salary increases. If you move to a different position within the same organization, chances are you are not going to get nearly as much of a salary increase as you would by moving from your organization to another.

The problem with most nonprofit organizations is that there is not a real structure or pecking order below the department heads. I don't have an assistant, so if I left next week, who would take over? None of the other department heads do either. I think that is largely because of economic conditions, and those positions just aren't available. Some organizations do, but a good number of cultural groups, even the major ones, don't, and it makes it too bad for the organizations and people entering the field.

All the people working for me have a minimum of a four-year degree, and most have a master's degree. It isn't like we are talking about people with minimal kinds of training.

Q - What are your responsibilities or duties?

A - My responsibilities in terms of function include subscription sales and advertising. When we get to the advertising, it would be copy, graphics, production, printing processes, single ticket sales, subscription sales, and the advertising and marketing.

One of my responsibilities is to manage the eight people who work for me and the areas they represent. That is a full-time job. Ultimately my responsibility is to increase the number of subscribers, get good press for the symphony, and broaden the recognition that we get locally and nationally.

By virtue of my title, I am in charge of all the marketing for the organization. Marketing entails the analysis of certain conditions and trends and the identification of new areas into which the company can move with its advertising to increase attendance and therefore its overall income. We may modify the company's position in what it offers to appeal to a wider group of people and therefore create the potential of bringing more people in to increase sales and therefore income.

I'm evaluated by the success or failure of the overall sales of the company. There has been a fairly thorough and accurate history of how the company has fared season to season for the last thirty-nine years. So there is a very clear benchmark. If, after twelve months' time, we're on the same level or lower, that really speaks for itself. Generally, the leading artist does the evaluating, so it's just her level of satisfaction of how I performed with respect to the previous people in my position.

Functionally I am responsible for a rather large budget, purchasing, and production of advertising. We do a lot of our own copy writing for print, for radio, and for TV. My job is to keep those costs under consideration and to farm out the production work. I write press releases and materials that we use to promote ourselves such as the press book, program copy, and pieces that explain ballet. I do research and present capsules about different programs. I also do some work with the education committee in trying to do educational material for schools and senior citizen groups. I also work with the company photographer in selecting shots that we use for promotional material. So I am involved not only with the public relations budget but the marketing budget as well; both intertwine, in that advertising can serve both needs at once.
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