The 'front-of-house' of a theatre refers to all areas accessed by the public, including the auditorium. Front of house staff look after the public to make sure their visit is safe and enjoyable.
What is the job like?
The front-of-house department look after the day-to-day management of the theatre. Usually there is at least one front-of-house manager who employs other front-of-house staff.
The aim of the front-of-house team is to make the theatre a welcoming place for all visitors, staff and volunteers. The front-of-house manager, is often responsible for:
- the safety and security of the public at performance time, and all times that the public are on the premises
- ordering and dealing with the merchandise that is sold at the theatre
- making sure food and drink sold on the premises is up to standard
- managing the box office
There is often an assistant manager who acts as a deputy and helps the house manager to run the theatre.
The front-of-house manager also employs front-of-house assistants to check the audience's tickets, help them to find their seats, and make sure the theatre is safe during the performance. These assistants are often also called 'ushers' or 'stewards'.
The aim of the front-of-house team is to make the theatre a welcoming place for all visitors, staff and volunteers.
The front-of-house manager may also be named as the 'duty manager', or this may be a separate post.
The duty manager is responsible for managing the building, volunteers and staff. Where there is also a front-of-house manager, they may split the work of looking after the theatre between them.
In a larger theatre, a facilities manager may also be employed to make sure that the physical building, along with heating, ventilation, and utilities, are well maintained and fully operational.
The facilities manager will make sure any repairs or renovations are carried out properly. They may also handle the hiring out of any theatre spaces to other organisations or people.
How do I get into front-of-house work?
Many people begin by applying for jobs as ushers or box office sales assistants, and work their way up. For this, any experience working in retail or customer services will be useful.
You should be a 'people person' with an interest in customer care. Business skills are useful, and for box office work you will need IT and basic maths knowledge.
There is a wide range of management and business training, bu you will need to gain experience to go with it. Contacting theatres, arts centres, and even cinemas to gain box office experience may be a good idea.
Your aim should be to build your customer service skills along with an understanding of how a building that houses performing arts events is run.