Arts & Culture

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The field of arts and culture often attracts people who have creative interests and want to earn a living pursuing related vocations. Professionals in this field have a deep appreciation for art, photography, music, design, performance, culture and/or language. There are a variety of settings: art studios, theatres, galleries, museums, recording studios, production sets, and office settings. Employment growth areas include graphic design, game design, and multimedia and web design. The arts are highly competitive for both salaried and freelance work due to the supply and demand for the arts, so it can be common for people in this field to have multiple jobs or to have a full-time job in a different field and pursue their creative passions in their free time.

Career Information

Art and culture careers include curator and restoration work at art galleries and museums, business roles (including advertising, marketing, publishing, and design), performance in dance, theatre, and music, translation, film production and editing, photography, art therapy, arts administration, or engagement with diversity or people of various backgrounds both locally and globally in a variety of contexts (political, humanitarian, etc). Some people pursuing art careers will pursue “portfolio careers,” which combine a mix of arts-related roles to achieve full-time work or a mix of work in the arts with other work outside the arts. Art careers in this area require a combination of artistic talent as well as business and marketing skills. Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship is a resource at the University for aspiring entrepreneurs and includes entrepreneur and innovation classes, some with experiential components.

Consider what type of role may be a good fit for you and how you can not only gain experience in the arts and culture sector, but also gain competencies for the particular job role you would like to pursue.

Job Titles & Descriptions

O*NET, a free online database, provides career information including job duties, salary, and job growth information for hundreds of careers. For more detailed information on art career paths, The Art Career Project has a database with information about 100+ art related careers. For museum career paths, check out Museum Job Descriptions. For occupations related to culture, first decide on the focus, for example, business, education, humanitarian, political, to then be able to explore opportunities within those fields.

Job Opportunities

Below is a small sampling of organizations and their positions that have recruited CLA students in the past.  For a more comprehensive list of job openings, search GoldPASS.umn.edu and Use the “Job Category” search field to narrow your search and select one or more of these options: Arts Administration, Dance, Education - Art/Music, Education - English/Communication Arts, Education - Foreign Language, Film and Television, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Interior Design, International Affairs/Foreign Policy, Languages - Translation, Music, Teaching/Education, Theater Arts.  Under “Industry” (available in the Advanced Search feature), select one or more of these options: Advertising/Public Relations, Arts, Communication, Design, Education, Fashion, International Affairs & Development, Languages, Nonprofit/Philanthropy, Printing & Publishing, or Travel & Tourism. The same search criteria are helpful to use in the “Find Employers” tab to identify organizations.

  • Freelance Critic/Writer for newspapers and magazines
  • India Program Director, Lifeworks International
  • Graphic Designer, Capsule
  • Lobbyist, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
  • Production Assistant, Random House Publishing
  • Ceramic Technician, Minnesota Clay Company
  • Co-founder, ReelWorks Video Production
  • Art Teacher, DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science
  • Senior Director, Eastern Congo Initiative
Job Search, Professional Organizations & Networking Websites

Below is a list of websites and professional organizations. Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement, as these have not been officially reviewed nor approved by the University. As this is a sampling of sites that fit within the Arts & Culture field, students are encourage to do their own research.

Arts

Museums

Language

Nonprofits

Prepare for this Career Field

Seek out opportunities, such as those listed below, to develop the 10 core career competencies. The competencies of: Innovation & Creativity, Digital Literacy, Oral and Written Communication, and Engaging Diversity are especially valued in the Arts & Culture field.

Build a Strong Portfolio
In the arts, your portfolio - whether physical or digital - is evidence of your talent and experience. Seek opportunities to build your portfolio, which can also be used on a professional website, and professional skills through classes, internships, volunteering, student groups and independent work or practice.

Talk to Professionals
Networking can help you explore a career field and learn about the unique nuances of building experience in a particular area of either art or culture; start by doing informational interviews with people who are in organizations or disciplines that are of interest to you. Find professionals through referrals from faculty, by utilizing the “professional networking” tab on goldpass.umn.edu, using LinkedIN, and getting connected to professional organizations.

Pursue Internships
Below is a small sampling of organizations and their positions that have recruited CLA students in the past. For a more comprehensive list of job openings, search GoldPASS.umn.edu, a free database of internship, volunteer, and job postings for UMN students. To search for  internship openings within this career field, select Internship as the “Position Type.” Organizations that have hired CLA students in the past and roles held include:

  • Arts Advocacy Day Intern, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
  • Inclusion & Engagement Intern, Xcel Energy
  • Graphic Design Intern, MacPhail Center for Music
  • Marketing Research Intern, Alliance Francaise
  • Rehearsal Assistant, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
  • Refugee & Immigrant Program Intern, The Advocates for Human Rights
  • Web Design Intern, Skyway Theatre
  • Spanish Language Intern, Futura Language Professionals
  • Photography Intern, n2 Publishing
  • Storytelling Intern (Video and Podcasting), Transition Twin Cities
  • Job Readiness Intern, International Institute of Minnesota
  • Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator, World Without Genocide
  • Development Intern, Northrop Auditorium
  • Education Intern, Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts

Apprentice/Entrepreneurial Experience
It may be more helpful to seek an apprenticeship or mentorship instead of an internship to learn how to navigate being an artist through a specific medium or to build your own business. Use the Networking tips above to identify potential people from whom you can learn. Some arts organizations (such as the Work of Art  program) offer opportunities to build entrepreneurial skills as an artist through workshops on topics such as Marketing for Artists, Funding for Artists, Business Plans for Artists, Career Planning for Artists, Portfolio Kit, Social Media, Grant Writing, etc.

Study Abroad
For career opportunities related to a specific language or culture or to your major, having an immersion experience in a relevant country can be a helpful opportunity to improve your language skills and learn more about your own and other cultures. Explore programs abroad through the Learning Abroad Center.

Join a Student Group
Get involved with a Student Group. When searching for student groups, select “Cultural & Diversity”, “Fine Arts/Music/Film” or “Performance Groups” as a category to find groups that match your interests.

Volunteer
The Center for Community Engaged Learning has advising staff that will help you get connected to one of the 300+ community organizations that match your interests.

Take Courses
There is not one major or minor that will prepare you for this field as there are many pathways into this profession. One opportunity is the semester-long HECUA program that offers off-campus study that addresses some of the most important issues of our time, including focuses in media and art. Below is information about undergraduate and graduate coursework related to this field (these lists are not all-inclusive):

Undergrad Coursework
Arts: Acting, Art, Art History, Dance, Music, Theatre Arts, Culture: African American & African Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Languages & Literatures, Biblical Studies, Chicano-Latino Studies, Classics, Communication Studies, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, English, French & Italian Studies, French Studies, Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, German, History, Scandinavian, Dutch, Global Studies, Greek, Hebrew, History, Italian Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin, Linguistics, Philosophy, Russian, Religious Studies, Sociology, Spanish & Portuguese Studies, Spanish Studies, Studies in Cinema & Media Culture, Urban Studies.

Consider Advanced Degrees
For a deeper study on a specific discipline within this field, you may want to consider graduate school programs to enhance your expertise, or in some fields open up more job advanced job opportunities.  Faculty in your department are fantastic resources to solicit information from. Additionally, you can search for graduate school programs by going to www.gradschools.com or www.petersons.com

Advice From Employers

“Intern, volunteer and interview as many people as you can to hone into the specific track that you would like to pursue. The Arts and Cultural field is extremely competitive and requires an advanced degree — weigh your options and gain practice experience before graduate coursework. “ –Weisman Art Museum, representative

“Sometimes you can be the first person that holds yourself back. You never know where opportunities in the arts are going to lead you, so keep an open mind when opportunities come up. I see a lot of people young in their artistic career turn down opportunities because it doesn't fit what they think their career should be. Allow your own career to surprise you! “ –The Guthrie, representative

“In nonprofits, volunteering is a great way to get in the door. Volunteer and HR departments work very closely together, so if you are an awesome volunteer it’s a great foot in the door.” “ –The Guthrie, representative

“Be wary of being asked to give your art and work away for free. It seems like you might get a leg up down the road by taking on an unpaid role or providing access to your art, but that's not always the case. Consider whether you feel that the experiences and benefits will compensate you.” -Northern Clay Center, representative

“Be active in your discipline. From an arts nonprofit perspective, it's important for you to display your skills in relation to the job you are pursuing rather than your creative practice.” -Northern Clay Center, representative

“Network as much as possible, take advantage of small opportunities because they can lead to bigger things. Nonprofits/cultural organizations/museums are a small field with people who know people everywhere.” -Minnesota Historical Society, representative

“Get practical experience beyond what you've learned in classes. Volunteer somewhere similar to where you'd like to work. A lot of museums don't have very many paid full-time staff people, so don't be afraid to start small. Use your network! -Minnesota Historical Society, representative