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Where to start

The UK’s arts and heritage sector is extremely broad, and widely viewed as the leading cultural sector in the world. Employers include The Arts Council, National Trust, English Heritage, and Historic England, as well as numerous performing arts venues, artist agencies, arts consultancies, community theatres, festivals, outreach projects, and more.

Working in this field requires business skills, creativity, and a passion for the arts. Salaries are low compared to more corporate sectors (entry level £15-£20K) but job satisfaction is very high. Salary progression is varied depending on organisation size—a general Manager or CEO could be anywhere between £25K and £80K.

Arts and heritage management roles include event management, exhibition curation, music programming, concerts management, arts outreach, and arts conservation. There are also roles in the business side—finance, box office, marketing, fundraising, HR, project management. There are also roles in the delivery of the arts and customer experience – stage and production management, technical delivery, visitor experience.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

Are you proactive and resilient? Working in the arts and heritage sector will mean a lot of multi-tasking, teamwork, and organisation. You’ll need to deploy commercial awareness in order to make a little funding go a long way.

A career in the arts doesn’t offer a structured career path, so it is important to be adaptable, and to take charge of your own career progression. Promotion is often achieved by moving organisation.

How to get the experience to be credible

Start with the many arts orientated student societies. Volunteering, particularly in heritage/museums, is expected by employers. 

Demonstrating commitment and understanding of the arts through multiple work experiences outside university is essential. Don’t expect to see work experiences advertised, as internships exist almost entirely at the bigger funded organisations. Make speculative approaches to arrange work experience.

Fundraising experience will also strengthen your CV, as it is a large part of many roles across the arts sector.

Further study or certification required

There are postgraduate courses in arts management, but these are not a requirement, and do not replace the need for work experience.

Training in fundraising and development is available as professional development once you are in a role.

How to find employers or training courses

Arts, heritage and cultural organisations don’t tend to target Cambridge, and it is unlikely that they will advertise on Handshake. You should regularly search the following resources:

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Being enthusiastic about the arts is important, but not enough by itself. You should demonstrate that you understand the role and have the skills needed to do it. Frequently required skills include:

  • organisation
  • creativity
  • strong communication skills (general public, all management levels, creatives)
  • initiative and problem solving
  • teamwork

There are few internships and even fewer graduate schemes. Roles are advertised throughout the year depending on when vacancies appear.

Research the specific organisation you are going for. Show that you know their current challenges, and how you can contribute.

Entry-level roles are usually in administrative support (marketing assistant, concerts administrator, outreach co-ordinator, etc.). Experience in these areas often leads to officer-level roles and from there to Senior Management, where strategic business decisions are taken. 

What Cambridge offers to help with this career
Other things you should know

Young people in the arts is an early-career networking and advice resource.