Jobs in Performing Arts: Which Take Centre Stage?

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With origins from as far back as ancient Greece, Western theatre and performing arts is a long-established part of our culture. From Greek tragedies and medieval drama, to Renaissance improvisation and Elizabethan theatre, audiences have gathered to engage with performers and be entertained. But how has this ancient tradition influenced today’s job scene?

LOVEtheatre has investigated the UK search interest in a number of theatre and performing arts jobs over the past 10 years, to find out more about the most desired jobs, identify the competition between different roles, and pinpoint any up-and-coming trends in the industry.

This content examines the following searches

  • Acting jobs
    Talent agency jobs
    Assistant director jobs
    Assistant producer jobs
    Backstage jobs
    Costume design jobs
    Dance jobs
    Theatre front of house jobs

  • Singing jobs
    Sound engineer jobs
    Set designer jobs

Data has been taken from Google Trends, which allocates a score between 0 and 100 to represent the search interest.

Data has been examined from December 2008 to December 2018.

SEARCH INTEREST IN ‘THEATRE JOBS’

Over the past 10 years, how has people’s interest in working in the theatre changed and developed?

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The peak popularity in searches for theatre jobs was in January 2011, with high interest in January 2009, September 2011 and January 2015.

UK searchers look for jobs in the theatre in January and September, which consistently see peaks of interest year after year; interest consistently drops in December and May each year.

The interest in ‘theatre jobs’ has decreased slightly over the last 10 years; though has never fallen far below half its highest volume of searches.

THE TOP-FIVE MOST POPULAR PERFORMING ARTS JOBS

Of the variety of jobs available in theatre and performing arts, the top five jobs with the highest monthly searches currently in the UK are:

  1. Acting jobs - 12,100 average monthly searches

  2. Sound engineer jobs - 4,400 average monthly searches

  3. Dance jobs - 3,600 average monthly searches

  4. Singing jobs - 2,400 average monthly searches

  5. Set design jobs - 1,300 average monthly searches

(Data from Google Keyword Planner)

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Searches for acting, singing and dance jobs all peaked in February 2011, with a steep fall in January 2013 and 2016.

Contrary to the current search volume in the UK, those looking for work in the performing arts have consistently searched for dance jobs more regularly than acting jobs. Searches for acting jobs only surpassed dance jobs twice, June 2016 and January 2018.

When contrasted with current search volumes, this suggests an upcoming increase in popularity for acting roles - and bigger competition for people looking to land these jobs.

People are looking to work in the sound aspect of performing arts more than ever. Sound engineer jobs is currently the second most searched for, however over the past 10 years, has been much less popular than other roles.

The data suggests that searches for jobs in set design are on the up too, with interest in these roles surpassing those for sound engineers over the past two years.

KEEPING BEHIND THE SCENES, OR TAKING THE LEAD IN FRONT OF HOUSE?

If you’re not on-stage, there are a number of exciting roles involving theatre without being in the limelight. Would people rather be backstage, involved in the intricacies of the set, or front of house, interacting with theatregoers?

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Over the past 10 years, interest between backstage and front of house jobs has alternated quite regularly.

Overall, backstage jobs has had the highest search interest, with search trends peaking regularly over the 12 month period. The highest peak for backstage jobs was in August 2008; markedly higher than it’s next highest point, in April 2009.

Interest dropped dramatically for both roles at different times; backstage job searches fell in August 2009 and January 2010, and for front of house in March 2009, May 2010, September 2010 and August 2012.

UK searchers were more interested in working front of house than backstage on a number of occasions, including January 2011, March 2013, January 2014 and January 2017.

Towards the end of 2018, working in front of house looks to be increasing in popularity, ahead of backstage jobs - which could mean less competition for those wanting to work backstage.

MAKING STUFF HAPPEN: DIRECTING OR PRODUCING?

Directors and producers are essential to making the performance happen. While directors take care of the creative and the overall vision, producers work behind the scenes, managing logistics, finances and marketing.

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Over the past 10 years, UK search interest has been consistently higher for assistant director jobs than assistant producer jobs.

Searches for assistant director jobs climbed from 2011, to its peak in July 2016. Since this point, search interest has never reached the same level, showing a slight decline up to December 2018.

There were, however, some occasions over the past 10 years, when search interest for assistant producer jobs was higher than director jobs; these included November 2010, June 2011 and August 2013.

NEED AN AGENT?

For those interested in taking an agent role in performing arts, there’s the option of representing talent, or casting for productions. What are UK jobseekers looking for?

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It’s been a close call between searches for talent agency jobs and casting agency jobs over the past 10 years in the UK.

The highest levels of interest have most consistently been with talent agency jobs, with particularly high levels of interest seen in November 2009 and September 2011, peaking again in September 2015.

From December 2008 to September 2012, interest in talent agency jobs was much higher, until April 2013 - May 2014, where interest in casting agency job searches became more popular for this period.

Since then, talent agency jobs have continued to prevail, but the gap is much closer, with casting agency jobs peaking just as much over the past few years - showing that more people than ever before are choosing to find talent rather than represent it.

GOT A FLAIR FOR DESIGN? SET OR COSTUME?

Those with design skills can take a creative role in the creation of a production. Do people want to design costumes, or the backdrop to the main performance?

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Over the past 10 years, interest in costume design jobs greatly surpassed those of set design From December 2008 to May 2010, searches for costume design peaked a number of times, especially throughout 2009, with its highest in January 2010.

From May 2010 onwards, interest in set design started to surpass costume, though the interest never reached the same levels. The peaks of set design took place in January, June and September of 2012.

Searches for costume design roles generally remained at a more consistent level than those of set design, with interest falling fewer times overall, however interest has fallen to zero more regularly since January 2017.

Although the search trends have been slightly lower for both roles from 2015 onwards, searches for set design jobs are still taking the lead.

This research was provided by LOVEtheatre using Google Trends Data. The full dataset breakdown can be accessed in Google Sheets here.