Arts Marketing Association (AMA) has launched job description templates in a drive to combat the growing gulf between expectations of arts marketing roles and sector pay.
Growing marketing skills gap as arts marketing talent drifts from the sector.
AMA is a sector support organisation for arts and culture sector. It has a membership of over 3000 marketing, communications and audience development professionals, and hears directly about the challenges they face. During the pandemic, the arts and culture sector saw a huge amount of arts marketing talent leave the sector, with 55% of AMA members surveyed agreeing there’s a marketing skills shortage in the arts, culture, and heritage sector. AMA also advertises vacancies for the sector, and sees recruiters report they are struggling to fill roles.
This is concerning as marketing is a hugely important area that influences all aspects of the relationships arts organisations’ have with their audiences: product development, market intelligence, communications -and ultimately can be the difference between success and failure in reaching audiences; and ensuring a sustainable future for organisations.
The skills shortage is further evidenced by a recent Centre for Cultural Value study which revealed the performing arts workforce is now 15% smaller in 2022 than last year. The same volume of work is still being produced, but staff are having to work more hours per week to achieve this. A third of AMA members mentioned the skills gap being due to a lack of resource and capacity “across all levels” and cited a shortage of time to “think and plan strategically”.
In roles advertised by AMA on behalf of sector organisations, we often see vacancies advertised that have merged two roles into one, without reducing expectations accordingly, to reflect that there is now one person effectively covering two roles.
CEO of AMA, Cath Hume says, “We’re seeing demoralised and burnt-out arts marketers who have left and will continue to leave our sector. Long-term this will negatively impact the success of the sector and its organisations. Our members are being asked to take on more and more within their roles, but with no corresponding increase in resource or budgets.”
Sector expectations see unrealistic job descriptions turn off jobseekers
The perspective AMA has as a member organisation and conduit for recruiters to advertise roles means AMA see both what life is like in roles, and the challenges of recruiting for these positions in the first place.
When advertising sector roles, AMA often sees them advertised at below our minimum salary guidelines, and typically, these roles struggle to attract candidates. This was echoed by a third of AMA members who mentioned the skills gap being due to sector issues around poor pay for skilled roles.
The ‘skills creep’ in what is asked of arts marketers by organisations worsened during the pandemic with additional digital skills such as video production, live-streaming, and graphic design being added to a growing list of skills in which marketers are expected to be experts. Many of these skills are dedicated roles in other industries; commanding high salaries in their own right.
A growing list of requirements has led to Arts marketing roles becoming ‘catch-all’ positions with an increasing ‘marketing’ remit making it hard for one person to embody all the skills required. This disparity results in job descriptions which are wildly unrealistic in what they ask and expect of roles in a reasonable working week.
Members report frustration that a belief exists that “anyone can do marketing” – leading to a lack of appreciation for marketing as a skilled profession, internally as well as financially – and job descriptions seem to blend this with the belief that “marketing can do anything”.
AMA members report that role of marketing in an organisation’s success is not understood at senior levels.
A key part of the challenge around unrealistic job descriptions is that AMA members report that marketing is not properly understood at senior levels, which is what leads to unrealistic expectations, demands and roles.
Through its jobs advertising service, AMA is seeing increasing examples of bad recruitment practice such as a large venue listing a manager level role at a manager level salary, but with the equivalent responsibilities of a Head of Marketing; and a small arts organisation effectively listing 3 roles (marketing, PR, and fundraising) into one officer level role when the job requirements were at the very minimum, manager level.
These examples demonstrate that organisations have unrealistic expectations and lack understanding of what they can and should ask of their marketing teams –which in small organisations, is often a single person.
Marketing needs to be at business strategy level, which means senior leaders need to be marketing literate to understand where marketers and marketing can add most value to both their organisations and their audiences. A lack of marketing literacy at a high-level often filters down and is reflected in unrealistic expectations and salaries.
AMA members tell us this lack of understanding sees “managers ask for or suggest things without understanding how much work that would require”. We often hear of marketers being pressured to be “on the latest thing” such as jumping onto the latest social media channel because someone on the leadership team thinks it’s important to be visible in the latest places, without any thought or understanding of marketing strategy, budgetary implications, capacity, resource or impact.
Cath adds, “It’s clear that there is a growing impression of a serious senior-level disconnect between marketing and leadership within the sector. Arts marketers work for the love of arts and culture and the contribution that makes to society –but increasing expectations and low salaries mean we are losing skilled people.
Arts marketers feel undervalued by leaders and the sector – some might go as far as to say exploited – and this needs to change. The sector cannot function without skilled marketers and expertise. Leaders need to be more marketing-literate, to recognise marketing for the strategic function that it is – integrating it within organisations, investing in skills, and valuing the people doing this work. Failing to do this means losing staff to burn-out, stress, and the lure of better paid roles outside the sector.
By launching the job description templates we hope to see the arts and heritage organisations stop taking people for granted, and invest in sustainable working practices. We want to see arts marketing roles where skills and expectations are aligned with the pay and working hours available.
As well as ensuring our existing people are treated well, better recruitment practices make the sector more inclusive and accessible to those who aren’t represented in our workforce. This helps combat a growing recruitment struggle and ultimately creates amore inclusive sector workforce better equipped to make impact with audiences.”
As part of AMA’s work advocating for the value and importance of marketing in arts, culture and heritage organisations, AMA’s focus will now be looking at organisation structures to see how and where marketing thinking is being embedded in arts organisations.
Looking to find the AMA Job Description Templates?
They are included as part of the AMA Guide to Marketing Job Descriptions and Skills on AMAculturehive.