Careers in the world of culture, music and performing arts are all about fame, fortune and failure, right? Hmmm, maybe not. You may think that working in the music industry is all about stage diving and massive wonky bass lines. You may think that careers in performing arts are all about red carpets and on-screen kisses, spouting Shakespearean soliloquies, or just busting a few shapes on the dance floor. Alternatively, you may think that a career in ‘culture’ is all about sitting in silence in stuffy art galleries or arranging dinosaur bones in a museum.
Sure, your career could take one of these routes, but it’s pretty unlikely really. Don’t worry though; it’s ok. You don’t have to be Johnny Depp, Johnny Rotten or Ross Geller to work in this industry.
How large is the ‘cultural’ industry?
Every industry which might be considered ‘cultural’ (i.e. music, theatre, film, museums etc.) needs a dedicated range of professionals who work hard to help us stay entertained, excited and educated.
Every time we clap our hands together at the end of a play, we are not only applauding the actors and actresses, but the entire team of theatre workers, from the director and the ushers to the set designers and the orchestra in the pit. Every time we listen to our new favourite band on our iPods, we are not only listening to the blood, sweat and tears of the band, but the work of the record label who discovered them and the producer who recorded the album.
Every time we marvel at a dinosaur’s skeleton in the Natural History Museum, we are enjoying the work of everyone who added to our learning experience, from the archaeologist who dug it up to the museum’s curator and the person working in the gift shop who sells us a rubber shaped like a velociraptor.
What makes a good performer?
Many different skills are needed for the many different kinds of culture, music and performing arts careers, but the one thing you really need is passion, either for music, theatre, historical artefacts, or anything which is cultural and gets you going. You need to be an absolute culture vulture, because without that level of enthusiasm, dedication and interest you will find it hard to break into the career you want.
What jobs make up the performing arts and music industry?
Understandably, performance is a huge part of performing arts and music. Without talented performers, the other jobs in these industries would not exist. However, every performer needs to get a break; they need someone to believe in them enough to give them guidance, exposure and financial backing. Consequently, a wealth of careers dedicated to the discovery, development, management and promotion of talent are waiting in the wings. Comedians and actors need agents while musicians tend to need record labels and gig promoters to get them where they want to be.
Many performers are not naturally talented and need some extra help to reach their potential. Even those people who appear to have some kind of magical ability to write great songs, or transform into an entirely different character at the drop of a clapperboard, often need some extra training and tuition to really be at the top of their game. This is where the likes of dance teachers, drum tutors and voice coaches come into the spotlight.
Every live cultural experience needs a venue. There needs to be an audience in a particular place watching, listening and exploring, or there’s no point in it happening. Every festival, performance or exhibition is different, and to give the audience the best possible experience a diverse team of professionals is required, from sound technicians and ticketing staff to security professionals and venue managers.
Not everything cultural can be experienced live. Some things need to be recorded and documented before they can be enjoyed by people across the world. Therefore, record producers, film directors and their related support staff are absolutely essential for cross-cultural experiences to happen.
From a distance careers in culture, music and performing arts can often seem like a one man show, where the performer is the be-all and end-all. However, behind the scenes it is quite a different story. The culture, music and performing arts industry is rife with exciting opportunities both offstage, as well as in the spotlight – the possibilities are truly endless.