About Arts Administration


So what is arts administration?

Arts administration, also called arts management, is a field of study providing graduates with the tools to create, develop, facilitate, and evaluate arts and cultural programs and organizations. Arts management offers a viable and rewarding career path for thousands of people across the globe.

The arts administration field was established to meet the ever-growing demand for leadership and organizational acumen within arts and cultural organizations. Arts administrators bridge the worlds of performing and visual arts with applied managerial, financial, and programmatic skills.


Does “arts administration” mean “non-profit?”

It can. But it can also be for-profit… or both! For-profit organizations are created to generate a profit, a.k.a. make more money than they spend. Non-profit, or not-for-profit organizations, are mission-driven charitable entities that serve the public good, whose profit (or surplus) goes directly back into the organization for programs/services. Non-profits do not have owners and are governed by a board of directors. Some organizations, such as social enterprises (organizations raising money for important causes), may have hybrid for/non-profit business models.


And people do it for a living?

It’s not always easy to tell whether and how people in the arts get paid, but there are many full-time job opportunities in arts administration. According to Americans for the Arts, 702,771 businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts in the U.S., and they collectively employ 2.9 million people. What’s more, the National Endowment for the Arts reports that the non-profit arts sector generates $135 billion for the economy, which has led to 4.1 million jobs.



The Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) is a key resource for anyone interested in becoming an arts administrator or exploring the academic side of arts and cultural research. Our program directory is a fantastic starting place to learn about different paths to professional arts administration. For a deeper look at arts administration education, explore our graduate and undergraduate standards. Finally, if you wish to join us as a collaborator or an institutional member, we hope you'll take a look at our membership options. 

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