I've been involved in many conversations about what arts organizations are looking for in new employees, and there are two areas of expertise that come up the most: Fundraising and Marketing - in that order.
If you are trying to start a career in the arts, or you want to build on
your current career, then get experience in fundraising and marketing -
in that order.
Fundraisers are invaluable for obvious reasons - but don't think that
you have to be a smooth talking muckety-muck to do it (in fact, if
that's you then you should probably get some additional practical
skills). There are many functions within a development department that
you can perform. You could become a sleuth with Tessitura and this will
make you appealing to almost all mid-large size arts orgs. You could
plan the most fabulous events in town, or be a numbers whiz with data. In both roles, organizations of all sizes will want
you. If you have the right personality, you can be the social ambassador
to an organization. This is much more than just going out to lunch! You
have to know and remember everything that happens with everyone who is
someone. You have to know how to talk to billionaires and how to make
them feel important without being a lap dog. And you have to know how and when to ask people for what. This skill is particularly
useful for larger orgs. If you have a reasonable understanding of all
of these skills, and you've got some management experience then you can
run a department. Also a job that is much easier said than done.
On the marketing side, you similarly have options. Online marketing and
social media have become their own niche. Graphic design for print and
web is a skill all organizations need now. Brand development is
something that all arts organizations will face at least twice in their
life. And of course, traditional advertising (print, newspaper, snail
mail, etc) is still relevant and has its own set of skills and logic.
Of course there are lots of other roles in arts orgs, and I don't want to discount any of them. But if you are looking for a job, or a career move, then having development and marketing skills on your resume is a sure way to make the short list.