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At its helm, every business has a strategic thinker who’s responsible for developing, executing, and enforcing its mission and vision, which guide its every action, aspiration, and activity. At an artistic organization, that person is the Artistic Director.
As an Artistic Director for a nonprofit theatre, music, or dance company, you’re like a CEO for a corporation or an Executive Director for an association. An executive in the arts and entertainment industry, you’re the boss of all things creative. That is, your organization may put the “business”— sales, marketing, and finance—in someone else’s hands, but it leaves the “beauty”—art and performance—entirely up to you.
What that means is you’re in charge of making artistic choices. If you work for a theatre company, for instance, you spend your days deciding what Playwrights your organization works with and what plays it performs, as well as when and for how long it stages its productions.
While you’re at it, you hire all creative and technical staff Theater Directors, for instance, Actors, and Stage Managers. As the Artistic Director, you also serve as chief Spokesperson for your organization, and consult on business, budgets, and marketing. Typically, you even direct at least one production every season.
In the corporate world, business is all about manufacturing and branding — the products you produce and the ways in which you market them. In the performing arts, it’s no different. Your performances are your product, and your choice of productions your brand. As much as anything, therefore, you’re Broadway’s version of a Chief Marketing Officer.