Venue Programming Assistant

 12 July 2012

Venue programming assistants are involved in the scheduling of an events programme at live music venues. They normally work as part of a team that is headed up by the venue programming manager.

Apprenticeships can be a possible way into venue programming work.
Apprenticeships can be a possible way into venue programming work.

What is the job like?

The work of venue programming is mostly administrative and includes:

  • Using IT packages such as spreadsheets and databases as well as specialist events IT software to schedule the programme of events
  • Liaising with agents to hold dates and venues for events to take place
  • Providing administrative support to the venue programme manager, including lots of telephone work and email
  • Issuing and chasing the return of contracts
  • Liaising with agents to obtain brochure copy and images to pass on to the marketing department
  • Preparing all the planning documentation
  • Assisting the programming manager with artist and programme research/reporting.

The venue programming manager liaises with the artists and their managers to create a programme strategy.

How do I get into venue programming?

Venues recruiting programme assistants generally look for people with previous experience in administrative work.

As jobs in this area are very competitive, you will usually need a proven interest in music and experience in arts administration. Front of house experience, perhaps as a box office assistant would be a good preparation for this role.

You will need to be highly organised and enjoy working in an office. There is lots of contact with other people on the phone so a friendly telephone manner is important. You will also need to be a good team-worker, and communicate well verbally and in writing.

What training and qualifications do I need?

Venue programming assistants have varied educational backgrounds. Some people might be highly qualified with a relevant degree, whilst others might have fewer academic qualifications. Either way, vocational qualifications for office work and IT users are viewed by employers as particularly useful.

School qualifications including English, maths, IT, business studies and music at GCSE, AS and A level are all relevant for venue programming work in live music venues.

Apprenticeships can be a possible way into venue programming work. You might start as a trainee administrator in any sort of office, as the skills you gain will be highly transferable to the live music sector once you have more experience. Visit the creative apprenticeship website for opportunities. Apprenticeships are offered at two levels – intermediate and advanced.

Academic entry qualifications for apprenticeships can vary, although most employers will look for a good standard of English and Maths at GCSE as a minimum. Equally important is enthusiasm and a determination to work hard and make the most of all the training opportunities offered to you.

If you want to go to college after your GCSEs then a business-related qualification would be relevant. Courses include:

  • BTEC Level 2 Business Studies
    Entry is usually with 2 GCSE (A-D) passes or equivalent.
  • BTEC Level 3 Business Studies
    Entry with 4 GCSE (A-C) passes or equivalent.
  • BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND)
    If you do well in your BTEC Level 3 course then you may be able to progress to a HND in a related subject or a degree.

IT courses such as the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) or other IT users qualifications are also an advantage. These are often part-time courses, and may be available to study online from home.

Relevant degrees include ‘Arts and Festivals Management’, ‘Music and Arts Management’ or other music-related courses. You will normally need at least two A levels or equivalent for a degree course.

What can I earn?

A typical starting weekly wage for an intermediate apprentice outside London could be £104 per week. In London the starting wage might be between £120 and £150 per week. This could increase to around £170 per week during the apprenticeship.

A venue programming assistant could expect a starting salary of around 16,000 a year, with higher rates of about £20,000 in London.

For those with more experience the salary might increase to around £25,000. Earnings can vary widely according to the size of the venue and its location.


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