Creative arts and performing arts sector

Want to find out more about a career in creative arts or performing arts? 

A career in the creative and performing arts covers a wide range of roles, where differing skills are needed but enthusiasm, passion and creative flair are a must for all.

The creative arts sector employs millions of people in a variety of jobs, with everything from theatre, music and visual arts roles to more unusual roles in areas such as crafts or game design – there are so many opportunities to pick from for anyone with a passion for the arts. 

Explore fresh perspectives on a career in Creative and Media Industries! Check out our latest article highlighting key insights gathered from the recent 'Insight into Creative and Media Careers' panel event.

3000 of our students said they are interested in creative arts and design

Explore your options

If you want to explore the creative arts and performing arts sector, find out about the types of careers and find resources below.


The music industry offers a range of roles. You could work on the business side (artist management, lawyer, accountant, human resources, marketing) or focus more on the music (Artists and repertoire (A&R), studio engineer, producer). 

Be prepared to develop a portfolio of roles, whether in music administration, management or performance, possibly combining teaching with freelance work, as well as doing contract/session work. It may take several years to establish yourself in this creative industry, so a strong network of contacts is important. 

Due to the vast number of jobs available, there isn't one specific entry route to get into this career.

Many people who go into this industry have music degrees but depending on the role you’re interested in, musicianship and/or experience count for more in some cases. Networking and personal references/ recommendations are also vital.

Entry for orchestras and opera houses is through an audition commonly followed by a trial period where you’ll be paid on a sessional basis.

The following websites offer information on the range of jobs and career progression in this field:

Types of jobs in music


Recording and producing 

Music Education

Music Health 

The creative industry has faced many challenges in recent years, and a number of initiatives have been introduced to support musicians. For more information visit Creative UK - support.

Theatre and performing arts

Career paths in the theatre and performing arts rarely follow a structured route of a typical graduate training scheme. Work experience and volunteering opportunities can be a great source of contacts and a route into more permanent jobs.

Entry-level paid opportunities may initially be available on a short term basis and identified through word of mouth.

There are many options for further study: academic, vocational and performance based. University of Birmingham graduates have previously gone on to study postgraduate diplomas in musical theatre, professional acting courses and for an MRes in Playwriting.

Useful Theatre and performing arts websites

Hear from graduates in the arts industry 

Peter Devaney

Junior Researcher at Studio Lambert

“From my own experience, I tried for quite a long time to get my first job in TV via applications and had no luck! Finally, it was through my network that I was able to secure some work experience and 18 months later, I am still working with the same company now. Getting a foot in the door can be very difficult but worth it if you persevere!”

Many of our graduates from University of Birmingham have gone on to pursue careers in the arts sector.  

Read, watch and listen to graduate stories in the arts sector.

Attend an Employer Insights event

Book an appointment with a Careers Advisor 

If you have questions and want to find out more about pursuing a career in creative arts and performing arts, have a chat with one of our Careers Advisers.  

Book an appointment through your Careers Connect account. 

Plan your career

If you are ready to start planning a career in the creative and performing arts sector, have a look below.

LinkedIn Learning 

There are over 2000 courses in the Creative library on LinkedIn Learning, containing a collection of tools and skills for creative, and design and professionals. 

University of Birmingham students get free access to LinkedIn Learning

Work experience 

Getting experience in music

There are lots of opportunities to get experience whilst at Birmingham. Browse the list of Guild of Students: Student groups for any that are relevant to your interest in music, put on a club night, join a band, DJ, join fellow musicians and check out opportunities to perform, perhaps at a charity event or venue near to the University.

Explore ways you can volunteer your creative skills to support different projects, especially during the pandemic.

If you want to work in the music industry, it's essential that you make contacts. Social media is excellent for this and a brilliant way to share your passion with others in the area you want to break into. LinkedIn is also worth joining to build your professional network and join relevant groups.

AIM (The Association for Independent Music) has a networking calendar open to non-members.  Check out other music industry trade bodies for similar events programmes.

Look for internships by visiting company websites and apply speculatively too. Use the Music Week job directory and other relevant publications such as The Unsigned Guide.

Getting experience in Theatre and performing arts

Get involved in University societies where there are opportunities, including performing and backstage/technical support. Don’t forget local, amateur and regional theatres and arts centres (examples include the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter, Hall Green Little Theatre and the Lichfield Garrick) – these can be great sources of shadowing or work experience. Casual theatre jobs such as working as an usher in a theatre, concert hall or exhibition venue can also look great on your CV.

Viewing different types of theatre and performing arts is a great way to gain an understanding of the diversity of the sector. Most venues (such as the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company) do student prices, or lower cost tickets can be available on the day of a performance. Knowing about current trends in the sector is helpful when writing applications or preparing for interviews. Visit the websites in this guide to help raise your awareness.

Bursaries and funding 

You may be eligible to apply for work experience bursaries through The University of Birmingham. For more details visit the internship funding pages

Apply for jobs

If you are ready to apply for jobs in creative and performing arts, have a look below. 

Finding jobs in the performing arts sector

Finding a job in music

There are lots of specialist websites that you can find through researching your chosen career area. 

Specialist music recruitment agencies

Finding a job or internship in Theatre and performing arts

Search and apply for jobs in the creative and performing arts sector 

Application support 

When you have a clear sense of where you want to apply, the final step is making the most out of your application. Our Employability Advisers are here to help review your application documents. 


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