Support Your Artist

Welcome parents, educators, and others seeking information on how to help the aspiring theatre artist in your life. Whether or not you have a background in the arts, you can make a major impact on their ability to pursue their dreams.

Eight Things to Talk about with your Artist

Thinking about the future can be scary or overwhelming, regardless of what career you’re hoping to pursue. Information and reflection can give your aspiring artist the tools they need to take the next step toward achieving their career goals.

First, encourage your aspiring artist to take our What's Your Career Path? Quiz and help them read the career path/type listed under their outcome (Independent ArtistHybrid, or Manager).

Then, explore each of these topics with them. Agree to respect one another’s opinions, and approach these conversations with openness and curiosity. Remember that the answers to these questions can (and will) change over time!

  1. When you picture yourself in your dream job, what are you doing?
    Next Steps: Watch “day in the life” videos of jobs that interest them (you can start with our Working in Theatre videos!). Talk about what aspects of the job they find most exciting, and which are less appealing. Can you get a good sense of how people in that career path spend their days?

  2. What worries or fears do you have about this career, and how might we start to address them?
    Next Steps: Encourage your emerging artist to talk honestly about their concerns, listen to them, and help to identify things they can research or do to address them. Note that many aspiring artists, especially actors, are concerned about how competitive this business is—and they are correct! However, there are actions they can take to be better prepared to step into these careers. A good first step is looking up resources for early-career actors, like this list from Backstage.

  3. Is there a union associated with any of the jobs you’re considering?
    Next Steps: Many jobs in the arts are affiliated with a union, and/or require artists or technicians to join a union. Explore Backstage’s professional organizations list, and look for unions and organizations that might relate to your aspiring artist’s intended career pathways. Research steps to join the union, and whether an emerging artist may need to join it before they start working. Talk through what union membership means and look at the benefits pages for any union they might join.

  4. Are these jobs with a regular paycheck or salary, or would you be paid as an independent contractor? How much money do you think people in that job make?
    Next Steps: Talk about the differences between salary employment and the gig economy, and how that might impact things like health insurance and personal budgeting. Google contracts and/or job postings for the jobs your emerging artist is interested in. Read through them together and discuss what each section means.

  5. What city or area do you want to live in—or would you like to travel or tour a lot? Next Steps: Research the type of job they want in that city. What theatres or other arts organizations seem to be hiring? If they’re interested in touring, what can you find out about touring or traveling companies?

  6. What might your personal budget look like in your first year working in your intended job? Do you need to think about an alternative income source?
    Next Steps: Create a budget together. Free services like can be helpful. We encourage you to show your emerging artist your family’s finances and talk to them about how much things cost, from car insurance to groceries to rent. You can help them research cost of living in the cities where they want to work. You can also talk about ways to supplement their income in the first few years of their arts career, and whether they might start to take steps to prepare for that supplemental job. For example, designers often earn extra money as technicians, and actors often earn extra money as teaching artists (but it’s important to note that both of those are rewarding careers in themselves!).

  7. What kinds of training do you need, and how much does that training cost? What are the options for types of degrees or schools? Is there additional outside training required?
    Next Steps: Look up the bios or websites of professionals in the career path your student hopes to pursue, and talk about what education or training they received. What schools or programs is your emerging artist interested in? How much do those cost, and what kinds of financial aid are available?

  8. What is important to you, aside from your job title? When you picture your life outside of work, what do you see?
    Next Steps: Listen to your emerging artist and ask them questions to help them identify their personal values, lifestyle aspirations, and sources of joy. Do they love being in nature? Is there a hobby or passion—outside of the arts—that’s especially important to them? What do they want to do in their spare time? It’s important to keep these things in mind as they think ahead to the life they want to lead!

  9. Additional Parent & Educator Tools

    • Explore the Working in Theatre videos together, and talk about what stands out to your young artist from each video.
    • Our Job Application Video Series can be helpful for high school seniors or college students as they look ahead to joining the workforce. Students can watch a segment and create their own resume and cover letter, or research jobs and internships that interest them.
    • Join the Center Theatre Group mailing list and select “Education” to get a heads-up on new career materials, program opportunities, and free events like our annual career fairs, which feature special workshops for parents and educators.

    Does your child or student need additional information or support? Are you looking for additional ways to help them? Contact the Program Team at