By Melodie Veldhuizen
Are you a regular theatre-goer? Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to put a successful show on the stage? One of the most important role players in the theatre world is the theatre manager.
What is a theatre manager?
A theatre manager is responsible for managing the general operation, maintenance and profitability of the theatre.
What do the duties and responsibilities of a theatre manager comprise?
Your duties as a theatre manager will to some extent also depend on the size of the theatre you work for.
- The person is in control of marketing, employment and personnel management as well as the theatre’s finances, and is also responsible for client satisfaction.
- You may for instance work closely with production teams to draw up the theatre’s annual production calendar.
- Apart from that you work with the directors or producers on the planning and management of productions in accordance with the theatre’s budget and make sure that the theatre’s policy is upheld.
- Develop, review and execute the theatre’s business plan.
- Plan the theatre programme and make sure that there is a balance between the various types of productions. This also entails negotiation and liaisson with the respective production companies. With a view to future planning it is also important to take note of what types of productions were popular or otherwise.
- Make sure that the theatre programme fits in with the requirements of the business plan by monitoring it all the time.
- Manage the budget and make sure you comply with the financial and operational goals of the theatre.
- Give guidance to the rest of the personnel who are, inter alia, involved with finances and administration.
- Make sure that the theatre meets all the legal requirements such as health and safety.
- Manage resources effectively.
- Negotiate with charity organisations and/or other funding bodies for financial support of the theatre.
- Foster partnerships with other organisations.
- Keep abreast of new devellopments in the industry and of new productions.
- Your job is mainly office-bound .
- leadership skills
- sense of responsibility
- organisational skills
- knowledge of and pasion for arts industry
- excellent communication skills
- must be able to work in a team
- good business sense to make sure theatre shows a profit
- attention to detail
- ability to work under pressure
- creative problem-solving skills
With the required qualifications you will be able to work in any theatre of any size.
A theatre manager’s working hours are determined by the schedule of the theatre. It will mainly be in the evenings and over weekends. You must be at your post well before the start of the show and you will only be able to go home some time after the show when the theatre has been cleared and evacuated.
This is usually determined by the size of the theatre.
Required school subjects
To study arts management and business management the following school subjects are recommended: Drama, Afrikaans, English, Art, Business Studies and Information Technology.
Where can one study and what are the admission requirements?
Enquire at the university of your choice about the recommended qualifications to qualify yourself as a theatre manager. The following tertiary institutions are strongly recommended:
University of Stellenbosch
University of Pretoria
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
North West University (Potchefstroom). Artéma, their institute for arts management and development, also offer short courses that are very useful for theatre management.
To qualify as a theatre manager, you must have one of the following:
BA in Performing Arts with Arts Management as major subject
BCom (Business Management)
Carien Bloem has been the manager of the Afriforum Theatre for the past 18 months. We talked to her about her job.
What exactly does your work at the Afriforum Theatre comprise?
I am responsible for the front of house of the theatre, the bookings and the smooth running of the shows. I make sure that the dressing rooms are ready for the artists and meet their requirements. When the artists arrive for the show, I receive and welcome them.
I also manage the front-door personnel who receive the guests and check the tickets. I make sure that all the arrangements regarding tickets and complimentary tickets have been passed on to the parties concerned and that all special requests are handled. I answer enquiries and also manage programme sales should the show request it.
What aspects of your work do you enjoy a lot?
It’s wonderful to work in a creative and artistic environment. It is also enjoyable to observe people’s positive experiences after they attended a show.
Are there aspects of you job that you don’t like?
It is a very administration-oriented job and it is important to stay level-headed and to keep booking information up to date. It can be exhausting and trying.
What would you say to a prospective student who is considering theatre management as a career?
- It is very important to have a love for and be attuned to the arts.
- Good human relations and communication abilities, as well as problem-solving skills are essential.
- You musy be able to take the initiative.
- You must be prepared to work long hours.
Carien Bloem, Manager, AfriForum Theatre. email@example.com