Got a work-related problem? AP finds the expert with the answer.
Q I’m a black woman, I’m 26 and I’m setting my sights high. I want to move into venue management from front of house. However, I don’t want to work as a diversity officer, or run world music programmes or whatever – I want to join the mainstream. I love theatre and musical theatre. My goal is to run a large-scale performing venue. How can I avoid being pigeonholed?
A You seem to have a strong sense of purpose and there is no reason why you should have to compromise your ambitions. Being a black woman would not make you automatically employable as a diversity officer or programmer of world music. People who are successful in these roles have acquired a breadth and depth of experience built on their interest in those areas.
Leadership roles in a theatre or performing arts venue can take a number of forms: artistic director, chief executive, executive director, general manager or senior management positions such as head of programming – depending on whether it is a producing or (primarily) programming space. Artistic directors usually follow a path of directing theatre productions, running their own touring theatre companies and/or working as associate directors before securing a senior leadership role within a producing theatre. There are also examples of people moving from front of house into sales and marketing, and then onto general management positions, but there are many more routes that can lead to running a venue – such as producing or education work.
I would suggest that you look closely at career profiles on websites such as Creative Choices and read AP’s ‘Job Ladder’ articles to see examples of possible routes you could take. If you’re ambitious you should be prepared to mix professional work with volunteering opportunities to widen your experience. Networking with professionals in the sector and seeking out support, supplemented by specific training where required, should all move you in the right direction.