Introduction                   Changes and Challenges

Cultural Management


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Openings for openers

A career in cultural management can be very rewarding. If you are looking to work in the arts, but not as a performer or creator, there are many opportunities in cultural management whether you’re a student, an artist or transitioning from another occupation.

Openings for Openers

University or high school student
What it you love arts or heritage, but you have other skills you'd like to bring to your work?

Artist or other cultural sector worker
What if you practise your art professionally, but have reached that point in your career where you feel the need for a change (while staying in the arts and heritage sector)?

Worker in transition from another sector
What if you would really like to move into the cultural sector from another type of work, but you lack extensive knowledge about the arts?

People can choose from a range of careers that open doors in the invisible “wall” between creators and the public. You could work in a crafts store or an art gallery, or for a music magazine or book publisher. You could work with elders to record Aboriginal heritage, document your own ethno-cultural traditions, organize tours, distribute films, or take visitors on tours to local cultural attractions. From there, you could move into management or administration in these organizations or businesses. You could assist an organization in its financial or human resource practices, develop new programs and policies, pull together the talents and skills of many people to create new cultural products or services, or work with many organizations to develop good practices in cultural management. All of these careers require creativity, commitment and the right skills and attitudes.

This site will take you through what you need to know and what you need to do to have a career in Cultural Management.

“The arts have always been a big part of my life. Being a cultural manager is a very challenging role as every day brings new tasks and responsibilities. It is exciting because it keeps me on my toes and is a continuous learning experience. And it feels great to be behind the scenes of one of the leading contemporary dance companies in Canada. If you would like an exciting career full of adventure and personal rewards, I would highly recommend one in cultural management.”
Maggie Kwan, Development Manager, Toronto Dance Theatre

Where does cultural management fit?

When most people think of arts and culture they think about the artists themselves. Most people know what a director does or an actor, writer, musician or painter for the matter. But what does a cultural manager do?

Cultural managers work closely with the artistic community to support the artistic or heritage vision of an organization.

Where Does Cultural Management Fit?

Artistic excellence, cultural relevance, and heritage preservation and presentation are at the centre.
When we think of working in arts or heritage, we first think of the work of artists in communities all across Canada. The art itself and support for artistic programs are the central focus of arts, culture and heritage organizations. Cultural managers and administrators work closely with artistic directors, curators and others to support the artistic or heritage vision of the organization, and have or develop extensive knowledge of the art or heritage discipline.

Relationships and networks are essential in this environment.
Ongoing relationships with many players in the cultural sector are critical to the success of an organization. Arts and heritage managers and administrators cultivate extensive networks, partnerships and teams. These include the staff and volunteers of their own organization, and their Boards; funders; governments; professional committees; and the very important public— as the appreciators and consumers of the organization's artistic Production.

Jobs in cultural management and administration are varied and diverse.
There are many diverse jobs in management and administration within arts and heritage organizations, although the fastest-growing area is development and fund raising, and very few organizations have staff dedicated to human resources management. Jobs could be found in a small theatre company, a local museum or historic site, a publishing company, a new media production company, a provincial or territorial arts council, or a national artists training school. In an increasingly complex environment, cultural managers need to develop a large range of skills to be able to address the demands placed on all arts and heritage organizations.

Most arts and cultural organizations are very small.
It is important to know that the majority of arts and heritage organizations have only one or two staff. The Executive Director (sometimes called General Manager or Administrator / Administrative Director) very often must take on all management and administrative tasks, with the help of a core group of Board members or other volunteers. However, other organizations, including many heritage organizations, have considerably more management and administrative staff, and in arts service organizations the staff are all involved in management and administration.

“A career in cultural management came out of my love of all kinds of artistic disciplines. Personally, I enjoy building strategic relationships between arts patrons and excellent organizations, and pairing a caring donor with a worthy company. I have found that the most successful arts administrators are those people who are passionate about the art form in which they work, are committed to learning and implementing best business practices, and genuinely like people.”
Christy Morrow, Director of Development, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, Toronto

Branches of cultural management

One reason it’s hard to describe what cultural managers do is because they do so many things. On any given day a cultural manager could be working on a budget, a communications strategy, chairing a meeting or coordinating an exhibition. The following graphic shows the broad range of task for cultural managers.

A large variety of jobs

In small organizations, all of the tasks or branches of cultural management are undertaken by one Executive Director or General Manager. In larger arts and heritage organizations, some of these management functions become separate positions.

Cultural Management Jobs


  • Director / Manager of Marketing
  • Publicist / Public Relations Co-ordinator
  • Sales / Marketing Co-ordinator
  • Touring / Box Office / Telemarketing/Retail Sales


  • Artistic Manager / Co-ordinator
  • Curator / Archivist
  • Production Developer
  • Production Manager
  • Stage Manager / Technical Director

Human Resources (HR) Management

  • Board Developer / Liaison
  • Director / Manager of HR
  • Director / Manager if Volunteers
  • HR Co-ordinator
  • Volunteer Co-ordinator

Information Technology (IT) Managment

  • Director / Manager of IT
  • IT Technician
  • Web Designer / Administrator

Fundraising & Development

  • Development / Fundraising Co-ordinator
  • Director / Manager of Fundraising / Development
  • Director / Manager of Membership
  • Membership Co-ordinator
  • Special Events Co-ordinator

Facilities Management

  • Facilities Manager
  • Maintenance
  • Security

Board Developer Financial Management

  • Bookkeeper / Finance Clerk
  • Controller
  • Director / Manager of Finance
  • Finance Officer


  • Administrative Assistant
  • Director / Manager of Administrative Services
  • Office Manager / Administrator
  • Receptionist / Clerk

Other Key Activities

  • Developer / Evalutation Co-ordinator
  • Government / Stakeholder Relations Co-ordinator
  • Professional Development Co-ordinator
  • Researcher / Policy Co-ordinator
  • Strategic / Long-range / Program Planner
“My decision to become an arts administrator arose from my desire to broaden my horizons and make a contribution to all of the arts. My career has developed exactly as I hoped it would. I’ve had some amazing opportunities to work in a wide variety of areas – from education outreach to publicity to advocacy – across all arts disciplines. For me, working as an arts administrator is like going to a new job every day, which is perfect!”
Cindy Burgess, Coordinator, Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton, and Outreach Assistant, Grant MacEwan College

Do you have what it takes?

If you are attracted to the possibility of a career in cultural management, you are likely looking for a job that you can be passionate about, a job that gives you a sense of satisfaction from the work itself.


University or high school student

  • You have sold tickets to student sporting events, or planned the publicity for your school play.
    You could sell the artistic or heritage "products" of an organization. This type of work is described as - Marketing.
  • You helped put on a school band performance, or raised money for a local family in need.
    You could help develop events, target potential supporters. etc. This type of work is called - Fundraising and Development.
  • You have planned and worked on many projects at one time.
    You could co-ordinate efforts on a number of concurrent artistic or heritage works. This type of work is described as - Production.
  • You like to organize your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and user-friendly.
    You could learn to plan, maintain and manage the physical spaces an organization uses for its productions or installations. This type of work falls into - Facilities Management.

Artist or other cultural sector worker

  • You have been the human face on publicity for an arts or heritage organization or a specific production.
    You could promote the artistic or heritage "products.' of an organization. This type of work falls into - Marketing.
  • You have contributed your artistic or heritage practice to a special community benefit or other cause, or helped in other ways at fundraising events.
    You could help develop special events, target potential supporters, etc. This type of work falls into - Fundraising and Development.
  • You have been involved in a number of different projects at the same time.
    You could co-ordinate efforts on a number of concurrent products or events. This type of work falls into - Production.
  • You have organized a group of artists or other cultural workers to do a project, assigning tasks to specific people.
    You could manage the people, both staff and volunteers. This type of work falls into - Human Resources Management.

Workers in transition from another sector

  • Passionate
    You want to move into cultural management so that you can make a contribution to something important: the creation and production of diverse art forms, or the preservation and interpretation of heritage and traditions.
  • Versatile
    In this field, you will be called upon to learn many new skills. You enjoy taking on new challenges, learning as you go, and sharing what you know.
  • Leadership abilities
    You are at ease with making decisions, and good at team-building. You are comfortable taking the lead on projects or activities, even if you are not the boss. Cultural managers must also be comfortable assigning the lead to others.
  • Entrepreneur/Innovator
    You are a self-starter, happy to dream up new approaches or help make someone else's good idea work. You are comfortable taking some risks, and careful to keep evaluating your progress - and make changes if necessary.