What Skills Do I Need as a Theater Manager?

Emily Daw

A theater manager must have strong organizational skills and people skills as well as knowledge about the technical and artistic workings of a theater. The exact skills you will need will vary depending on whether you are managing a stage theater or a movie theater. A stage theater manager is responsible for the workings of a particular theater, and should not be confused with the stage manager, who is responsible for organizational matters related to a specific production.

Box office.
Box office.

The most important skill set for a theater manager is the ability to work with people. Manager responsibilities generally consist of hiring, scheduling and coordinating theater employees, including box office, concessions, technical and janitorial staff. At a stage theater, this may also include the actors and directors of individual companies and performances. The theater manager must work to ensure that all of these various workers have the means to carry out their individual functions so that the theater runs smoothly.

Theater tickets.
Theater tickets.

In addition to organizing people, a manager must also organize various financial aspects of the theater. For a movie theater manager, this includes negotiating with film production companies about what percentage of ticket sales the theater gets to keep and what percentage goes back to the production company in exchange for the right to show films. Fundraising and advertising for individual productions may also be included for stage theater managers. Depending on the size of the theater, an accountant might be employed to assist with financial aspects of the theater, but both types of managers should still have a basic knowledge of business and marketing principles to make sure that the theater is able to make a profit.

A movie theater.
A movie theater.

Stage theater managers may also need general knowledge of the workings of theater arts to deal with problems that may arise at the last minute before productions. The manager should be able to deal with technical difficulties regarding sound or lighting. He or she should also act as a liaison between various staff members and make sure that theater patrons' needs are met.

Movie theater managers are not generally required to hold degrees or have any specialized training, although an associate's or bachelor's degree in business or finance may be beneficial. Stage theater managers, however, often need a degree in either business or arts management. They may even earn advanced degrees such as a Master of Fine Arts in order to work with higher-end theaters.

The ability to communicate and work well with people are essential skills for a theater manager.
The ability to communicate and work well with people are essential skills for a theater manager.

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