Management staff at large venues are responsible for creating a positive audience experience during events.
Concerts, festivals, sporting events, and other huge productions require a lot of hands to get going, and even more to effectively manage the enormous crowds of people they draw. Venue teams tend to include more personnel the bigger a performance space is; a small concert hall may have its own team of box office and administrative staff, lighting and soundboard technicians, bouncers and security, maintenance workers, hosts, servers, and bartenders, while a huge arena could have a dozen or more in each role. The management staff of these spaces are charged with coordinating these teams. Often in larger venues with more employees, each team has its own manager, and these team leaders work together to ensure that nothing gets missed.
Managers may be responsible for hiring workers for specific roles, as well as handling paperwork that can include their team's schedule and payroll. They also plan events in the space, working with booking agents and marketing professionals to find talent that will fill seats. There are logistical elements to coordinate, such as equipment load-ins and cleaning, as well as unforeseen issues that call for creative solutions. Many managers also do face to face work, solving problems for unhappy patrons and making arrangements for performers. It can be a lot to handle, but for the right person, venue management is an adventure that never stops; this type of work requires a jack-of-all-trades personality and a clear understanding of all the pieces in play.
- Supervising the activities of venue staff
- Coordinating with performing artists and their team
- Planning special events or appearances
- Overseeing daily business operations and delegating tasks
- Solving problems and making decisions
Many venue management professionals have experience in events or production that gives them a crucial understanding of the steps involved with large assemblies of people. Some come from roles in the restaurant or hospitality industries, which can have many similar duties. Others are owners of independent venues who want to have a hand in the day to day operations of their business. Workers in these roles can come from all kinds of backgrounds, but they all possess essential business management skills, such as time management, leadership, and the ability to coordinate many things at the same time without losing steam. It's important to remember that events can take place at any time of day, so managers can't be tied to business hours and must be flexible with their schedules.
While there's no direct path to managing a large performance venue, there are a few things that can make it easier for a management professional to find a position. Degrees in fields like hospitality or business management can teach a prospective manager valuable administrative and people skills and prepare them for an experience-centered career. However, it's completely possible for a worker without formal education to climb to a management position, especially with industry recommendations and visible achievements. Managers of prestigious or high-traffic venues can benefit from a Master's in Business Administration, or MBA; those who manage stadiums and arenas in particular may benefit from the structure and connections graduate programs can provide. Having a solid network of industry contacts is essential for this type of work, and having top notch communication skills can do wonders for a manager's career and reputation.
If you're a natural multitasker who works well with others and has an answer for everything, consider a career in performance and event venue management.
The International Association of Venue Managers educates, advocates for, inspires, and represents public assembly venue professionals from around the globe.