Arts 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.
Arts 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
Arts 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
The 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.
Agents 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.
Many agents tend to work in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal, New
York and London.
Working 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
Agents 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
"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."