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 (2016), there are around 286,000 people working in music, performing and visual arts in the UK.
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.
Working within the performing arts encompasses a wide range of organisations including:
The Scottish Government is continuing to support creative industries and economy backed by a £20 million investment in 2019/20. They will also continue to invest in arts and culture through Creative Scotland. The National Collections and the five National Performing Companies will help ensure that Scotland’s unique culture reaches a wide audience, home and abroad.
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. 25.4% of performing arts graduates that are in employment, are freelance. This is high compared to 4.9% for the general graduate population being in self-employment.
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.
The Scottish Government will maintain the Youth Music Initiative budget at £9 million in 2019/20.
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.
The Creative Choices website has information on getting into the arts – and specifically dance, music, drama and theatre.