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Careers In Culture

Live Performing Arts - What You Need to Know

Challenges and Opportunities

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Welcome to the world of live performing arts

Creators – Where It All Begins

Are you interested in being a playwright, choreographer, or composer? Then you're a person who wants to express your ideas in an artistic way. This career path can be extremely fulfilling and enriching, but it can also be difficult. Chances are you will start out by creating works by yourself and without pay, and this may never become more than a part-time occupation. You will be competing with many other creators to find a market for your work.

Do you create because that is who you are? Are you determined to succeed? Can you handle rejection? You'll have to combine your training and talent with hard work, dedication and persistence. You’ll need to keep abreast of new computer software and communication tools. If you love what you're doing, then keep on! Have faith in yourself, your talents and your vision.

Is Performance Your Passion?

If you want to be a performer, you'll face unique challenges. Everyone who is part of a production is essential, but its success or failure will ultimately depend on you. Each time you perform, you are expected to be at your best. The role of the performer is so important that producers and directors audition many people in order to find just the right one for their production. This means that for every successful person at an audition, there are many who don't make it. Even those who make it usually have to juggle a number of contracts, and rely on other types of work to supplement their income from performing. How can you best meet the challenges of this demanding career path? By learning your craft and constantly honing your abilities to their highest levels. By making your discipline and dedication work for you. Successful performers say that they never stop training, they never stop learning, and they never give up!

… And Lets the Credits Roll…

For every performer, there are hundreds of people working to make the performance or production happen. Administrators provide support in performing companies, and run arts service organizations. Technicians handle sound and lighting; now often computerized. And workers such as make-up artists, costume designers and voice coaches provide important creative support. Many “out of the spotlight” people have exciting, satisfying and enriching careers behind the scenes. Creativity, great problem solving, communications and teamwork skills are what you need to succeed in these careers.

Wanted – collaborative people!

The world of live performing arts is for people who like other people. Every production or performance is an intense collaboration with many workers, from creators to ticket sellers. How well do you get along with others? Use the following quiz to assess you interpersonal skills.

Curiosity Checklist

Do you...

I respect the ideas and feelings of others.
I'm co-operative.
I know how to express myself well.
I'm cheerful even under pressure.
I respect other people's differences.
I'm a good listener.
I'm good at working in teams.
I accept authority and supervision.


Dollars and Common Sense

You’ve probably heard about large theatre or opera companies with million-dollar budgets and stars who sign huge contracts. Maybe you like to read about famous dancers, actors and singers. Your dreams of fame and fortune are wonderful things, because they are part of what helps you pursue your passions. But it's also important to know the reality of working in live performing arts.

Most creators and performers have low incomes and no job security. They often work at other jobs to support their dreams, themselves and their families. The best way you can prepare for this possibility is to stay in school and get as much education as you can. Your education is your best insurance for the future, no matter what turn your career takes. The more you know the more choices you will have.

The “Business of Show Business”

If you have a career in the live performing arts, chances are you will work on a freelance basis. Perhaps you're an administrator helping one company with fundraising and another with marketing. Maybe you're dancer moving from one project to another. Perhaps you're a casting agent who sells your skills to different directors. Whatever field you're in, you'll be your own small business – promoting and selling you talents and services. This kind of career requires business skills and self-promotion know-how: Consider taking business courses to learn accounting, bookkeeping and entrepreneurship.

Breakin’ In Is Hard To Do

On stage, off stage – in front of a live audience or behind the scenes – whatever your career dream, you may find that getting into live performing arts careers can be difficult. This field attracts many people from around the world, and the competition for work is fierce. What's the best way to deal with this reality? Go for your dreams. But be the best you can be. Get all the education and training you can, and continue to build your skills and knowledge.