I did theater all through high school and college, and for four years after college I worked as a stage manager with a few small, non-union theater companies in Chicago, as well as working for about a year for a small theater as it’s business manager. I wrote my masters thesis on the funding of individual artists in the theater. But now that I have a master’s degree in arts administration (but not theater management or producing), and now that I have not worked at a theater since 2004, I can’t get a job at a theater. I have had interviews with two theaters with which I have personal connections, no others have gotten in touch.
Even within my industry, the “shift” is really difficult to sell. I have seen job descriptions that require that the candidate’s last job be at a regional theater. (I should have gone to Yale, clearly.) But my management skills would and could transfer to working in a theater, in my opinion. Many, many people seem to disagree. So, I am working from multiple disadvantages. I am not working, and my last job was not at a theater.
Does this mean I should give up the ghost and focus on other areas of arts management (like professional development for artists, programming, or presenting)? I’m not sure. Having run so far away from theater for so long (including a brief and failed stint at a museum), maybe it is time to put it to bed. But I love live performance and I love theater, and the whole reason I got my advanced degree was so that I could do a really good job running a theater company someday.
Sigh, you guys. I need to make up my mind.