Arts Manager  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotArts managers do their best to stop that old "starving artist" cliche from coming true. They act as agents for artists from a variety of fields. They work in everything from dance and music to literature and visual arts.

Any artist who wants to make a paying career out of what they create needs to find a market for their talents. That's where a manager comes in. They act as the go-betweens for artists and potential employers or collectors.

dotArts managers have their hands full with a variety of tasks every day. They're busy scouting out new customers. They're arranging shows and tours for their clients. Or they're working on promotional material. They also negotiate contracts with employers. As well, they advise artists on repertoire and other issues.

dotArts managers have to deal with people all day. They are selling a product, after all. They need to be outgoing and keep a professional attitude at all times.

dotThe toughest part of managing artists is selling unknown acts to potential employers. "You're on the phone, singing the praises of a dancer or singer, trying to convince a venue that they're worth booking. You're putting both yourself and the artist on the line," says manager Martin Mitchell.

dotAgents say it's difficult to sell their services to artists when they themselves are just starting out. "You have to persuade artists to become your clients when you have no track record," says Sue Ruben. Ruben is a manager who represents chamber music ensembles.

dotMany agents tend to work in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal, New York and London.

dotWorking hours for arts managers can be long and irregular. They may have to accompany artists to performances and they have to meet with their employers at their convenience. This means evening and weekend work. "My day usually lasts from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.," says Bob Guralnik. He manages a string quartet.

dotAgents spend most of their day on the phone. But travel is necessary sometimes. They may have to travel around the world, promoting and representing their clients.

"Many people think a booking happens with a few phone calls or a letter," says Jeannette Gardner. She is an arts manager. "This is not true. It takes a lot more work than that."

At a Glance

Put artists of all kinds in touch with art lovers

  • Arrange performances, tours and shows to expose artists to the world
  • Most managers work in big cities
  • You'll need lots of marketing and people skills


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Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes