Notes compiled by Kate Copland, Careers Adviser, based on a talk from… Elvi Piper, Creative Education Coordinator at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, who gave a snapshot of her role and some tips for working in the sector.
Working in theatre
- All staff are perceived as artists within the organisation, including administrators, technical staff and the person in charge of their twitter account!
- Passion for the job is absolutely essential and she explained that “work and play are combined”, so although she may start work at 8am and finish sometimes as late as 10pm, she would want to be attending performances in her spare time anyway, so it doesn’t feel like “work”
- Arts education and development is actually a growing area within theatre work, as a lot of funding is being directed towards this type of work.
Other less obvious roles in theatre it’s worth considering include
- Audience Development
- Marketing & Communications
- Programming (designing what will be shown)
- Producer (admin roles can lead to this)
- Arts co-ordinator
- Arts assistant.
What does a Creative Education Co-ordinator do?
- Essentially designs, delivers and co-ordinates educational experiences to members of the public, to help them engage more closely with the work of the theatre
- Groups could include schools, universities, health services, prison services, parents, nurseries, volunteers, elderly people
- Sessions could involve workshops, performance, longer term projects (e.g. where young people run the whole theatre for a “take over festival”)
- Other responsibilities include: project management; Arts Council funding reports; meetings; creating and implementing business models; budget management and marketing; recruiting volunteers, apprentices and supporting work experience placements; working with new and emerging artists (including performers, writers and directors).
Tips for getting in
- Get work experience! Work experience could be a placement, volunteering, but also just getting an entry level job within the sector is really useful. For example, working in the theatre café provides the opportunity to network with most of the staff, including senior management- being proactive here can lead to work placement or shadowing opportunities. Similarly, working in the box office gives a great insight into the importance of the customer when developing Arts productions- if people don’t want to see your production or have a bad time at your theatre, they won’t come!
- When applying for work experience, be clear about what you want to get out of it- be specific: which department do you want to work in? what role are you interested in? what impact do you think the experience will have on you? how will you contribute to the work of the organisation?
- Tailor your application! To stand out from the crowd, you must demonstrate a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for, the work of the organisation
- Don’t focus on the London theatres! The London market is saturated with people fighting for unpaid work experience and there can actually be better opportunities in the regions. The North of England in particular has great theatre, but be prepared to move around (geographically) in your career.
Finding work experience and jobs
- www.ideastap.com/ (good place for finding work experience)
- Theatre websites (eg the West Yorkshire Playhouse offer good quality (unpaid) experience from one week to six months – apply online via their website, no speculative applications www.wyp.org.uk/join-in/secondary-schools-and-colleges/work-experience/).
- Apprenticeships: www.apprenticeships.org.uk/types-of-apprenticeships/arts-media-and-publishing.aspx and WYP will shortly be running a number of apprenticeships (both school leavers and graduates will be eligible) – see www.wyp.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/job-opportunities/
- Alumni networks
- Twitter – follow theatre companies and actors you are interested in. Twitter is very important in this sector.
- Facebook: make a professional profile (you can have a separate personal account)