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Theater Managers

The Job

Theater managers determine the overall success or failure of the theater. How they choose to run the theater, what productions or acts they decide to stage, and how they promote their venue and performers ultimately decides whether the theater thrives or closes. They manage the theater’s organizational structure, coordinate day-to-day activities and operations, and plan and manage marketing, fundraising, budgeting, accounting, and staffing.

Theater managers deal with actors, actresses, directors, production personnel, technical crew, musicians, caterers, maintenance workers, theater staff, and anyone else associated professionally with they theater. They are expected to resolve audience-related issues and problems, and they work with the artistic, production, and facilities departments of a theater to coordinate an annual calendar of activities and shows.

Theater managers oversee the staffing of the theater. This includes recruiting, hiring, and training ushers, security guards, box office and concession clerks, and custodians. If the theater is small, the manager may handle payroll directly. In larger theaters, the individual may simply oversee a payroll department or service.

Theater managers develop marketing plans and strategies to generate ticket sales and assure that large audiences attend shows at the theater. This may include advertising campaigns and publicity. They may develop, design, and write marketing pieces, press releases, and brochures for the theater and any productions. In some instances, the theater manager will oversee an employee or an outside consultant who handles these duties.

Theatrical productions cost a lot of money to produce. Theater managers develop fund-raising strategies to ensure that the production is adequately funded. They create and approve operating, production, and marketing budgets and oversee production expenses including royalty fees, marketing materials, lighting, set design, and props as well as production staff, performers, box office staff, and other workers. In many cases, the manager will negotiate contracts for services and performers.

The theater manager coordinates the activities between all theater staff and stage performances. He or she works to keep the theater booked consistently, make sure performers and acts are paid, and, if the theater is unionized, complies with union rules and regulations.  It is essential in unionized settings that the theater manager have good relationships with all of the unions involved. These may include Equity, United Scenic Artists (USA), and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

Theater managers must handle all types of crises without panicking. Potential problems might include dealing with extreme inclement weather on the day of a performance, patrons falling ill during a performance, patrons becoming unruly, or union workers going on strike.

Theater managers work long irregular hours and often work weekends, holidays, and evenings when theater-goers frequently attend shows.