What does an Associate Artist do?

 10 November 2017

David Whitney works for Theatre Royal as their Associate Artist and looks after their youth groups, workshops and productions. He explains more about the role and what skills are needed for this area of work.

I work full-time here at Theatre Royal. My typical working week is 39 hours over six days.

I am responsible for the planning and delivery of eight weekly youth theatre groups, which range from ages eight-22 and I also manage a small team of assistants who aid this facilitation.

I line-manage the Young Associates, who spend a full year here at Theatre Royal. With me they explore different departments and work towards their own personal goals and go on to do brilliant things.

An Associate Artist is someone who has a mixture of skills that can benefit a workplace.

In addition to this role, I also run workshops with local charities and within the community.

I am responsible for directing up to three main house productions a year as well as small scale sharing’s with the various groups I work with.

I also attend various conferences updating my knowledge about the current theatre world and networking with other theatre professionals.

My working week can increase up to 50-60 hours depending on what projects need delivering. This can be very tiring but extremely rewarding!

An Associate Artist is someone who has a mixture of skills that can benefit a workplace. I trained as an actor and have worked professionally on stage and screen.

In addition, I have also worked professionally as a director and musician.

The combination of these skills and my experience of working with young people make for a variety of traits that I can implement within my job specification.

What skills are needed for this role? 

With my job I meet a lot of people and have to collaborate with lots different artists.

I think in my role you have to be extremely personable, a multi-tasker, have an excellent knowledge of current theatre practices and to also be an amenable person ready for sudden changes in the working week.

Above all, you need to be the type of person to completely immerse yourself in theatre and be prepared to not have much of a social life.

You will have a great time but you have to be prepared that your social life will revolve around the theatre and your job.

You will meet the best people and learn a lot but it’s not the job for you if you enjoy the quiet life.

Previous work experience: 

My career has been extremely varied and each experience has given me more confidence to perform in this role to my full capacity, I have worked hard and been very lucky.

I originally wanted to be a stage actor and trained in that field.

You will meet the best people and learn a lot but it’s not the job for you if you enjoy the quiet life.

Even though acting is where one of my true passions lie, I have incorporated this experience into my workshops and facilitation and find that my knowledge has helped to ignite aspirations within others.

My career has now gone down a more directorial route which I absolutely love as I get to work with actors, sharing common practices, ideas and new ways of developing material.

I am able to direct productions with my own artistic vision and get to manage my own creative team, which I relish.

What education and training have you done? 

Tips for a creative career 

As mentioned before I think above all you really have to love it.

If there is a part of you that is hesitant, it won’t work out for you.

I meet so many young people who do qualifications as a ‘back-up’, if you spend your whole life having back-up plans then you will never truly commit to what your heart tells you.

Any time you feel like you’re being put off from what you really want to do, just remember this quote.

“The ones who say "you can't" and "you won't" are probably the ones that are scared that you will.”


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