Performing Arts

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The performing arts industry is ideal for you if you enjoy expressing your creative personality, such as dancing, drama or singing, or playing a musical instrument. However, this sector is not only about performing in front of an audience; there are also great opportunities for those who have creative practical skills who are key to staging entertainment events, such as stagehands, lighting technicians, arts administrators or community artists.

According to the latest figures over 179,000 people in the UK work in performing arts, with around 30% of those working on stage as actors, musicians, dancers and entertainers. Some 10% of UK performing arts workers are based in Scotland, while 45% are based in London and the South East of England.

What areas can I work in?

The Performing Arts career area includes working as a performer in dance, drama, music and other forms of entertainment, from stand-up comedy to circus acts. Jobs in arts administration, community arts, music technology and theatre technology are also included in this sector. You can also teach any of these subjects from secondary school through to university level.

What kind of companies can I work for?

Working within the performing arts encompasses a wide range of organisations including:

What’s the job market like?

Job prospects across the performing arts are likely to be stable. However, it has been predicted that 30,000 more technical staff in performing arts and live performance will be needed by 2017.

Despite the glamour of this career area, the harsh reality for performers is usually years of hard work in the face of tough competition, rejections at auditions and frequent periods of unemployment or working in temporary unrelated jobs.

It is not always easy to get into the music industry. There are some full time classical music jobs, but most popular musicians do individual gigs for which they charge a fee.

Most performers, famous or not, are usually highly trained or qualified. The majority of actors have had formal training, almost all classical musicians have qualifications and a large proportion of popular musicians are trained to a high level. Dancers usually start their training at a very young age.

Competition for non-performance jobs such as arts administration, stage management and theatre technology is also fierce.

Facts and figures

Want to find out more?

The Creative Choices website has information on getting into the arts – and specifically dance, music, drama and theatre. 


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Career Area

Performing Arts

Career Sectors

Arts Administration

Community Arts

Related job profiles

Community Arts Worker

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