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What Working in Arts Administration Is Like

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Business

Arts administration combines a love for art with strong business skills.

How to Begin a Career in Arts Administration

Headshot of Dawry Ruiz
A student pursuing a career path in arts administration, Dawry Ruiz

For Dawry Ruiz, he began interning at the age of 15 for arts organizations. He is pursuing a degree in art history, along with certificates in teaching artistry and public policy. While working that degree, he has two roles at the Divison of Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Madison as an integrated media intern and in The Studio on campus. 

To listen to the full interview with Dawry Ruiz on A Sit Down with Scholars. 

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

If you’ve got a love for art, all that’s left is developing those business skills! This can be done with a bachelor’s degree, but some roles will require a master’s degree as well.

During a bachelor’s degree, the best major for this would be arts administration or arts management. But, not every university offers that as a major.

Other majors for an arts administration career: 

  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • ​Financial management
  • Art history
  • Museum management
  • Fine arts

“I was intrigued because I really liked art, and I liked talking about art, and I love history…” said Ruiz, about his choice of majoring in art history. 

Graduate Programs

Some arts administrators decide to go to graduate school. The most popular option is an MBA. But, there are specific master of arts administration programs offered at some institutions. 

Arts Administration Experience

The most important way into arts administration is by getting experience. Arts administration involves many skills, and those skills are typically developed with real-world experience. 

“They were looking for a communications and development intern. And, I had no experience whatsoever, but I was really involved in the organization before” said Ruiz on how he got his first arts administration internship at a nonprofit organization.

Skills and Responsibilities of Arts Administrators 

Arts administrators work in nonprofit, governmental, entrepreneurial, and for-profit organizations. Most of these organizations are dedicated to performing arts, arts education, visual arts, art galleries, or cultural organizations.

Arts professionals, especially administration, require a wide variety of skills.

  • Fundraising
  • Budgeting
  • Marketing
  • Financial knowledge
  • Designing
  • Researching
  • Leadership
  • Social media
  • Consideration of accessibility
  • Cultural advocacy
  • Knowledge of cultural policy
  • Public relations
  • Strategic planning

Job Outlook for Arts Administration

A white neon sign that reads "ART"
Photo by Zach Key on Unsplash

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a 2% decline in arts administrators from 2019 to 2029. This is due to the overall publishing industry is on a decline. But, specializations in areas like advertising and public relations are on an incline. 

In terms of salary for the arts administration industry, the average pay is $97,270 in 2020. Although, an entry-level position will pay between $40,000 and 50,000. 

Once in the senior level, pay depends on the size of the organization. A senior-level arts administrator working for a smaller organization will make $65,000 to 95,000. While a senior-level arts administrator will make around $150,000.

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