Artistic Director Kaihautū Toi

Artistic directors plan and direct the activities of performing arts organisations such as theatre and dance companies, and arts activities at festivals and venues.

Artistic directors may do some or all of the following:

  • plan shows and performances for theatres, festivals and events
  • plan budgets for theatre companies, productions, festivals and events
  • plan marketing and promotion for productions, festivals and events
  • develop business plans and budgets for theatre companies and festivals
  • liaise with sponsors
  • audition and hire designers, directors, actors, performers and technical staff as required for a production or event
  • mentor and teach artists and performers
  • direct or choreograph shows.

Physical Requirements

Artistic directors who work with dancers need to be reasonably fit.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for artistic directors includes:

  • directing or producing plays or films
  • choreography
  • other theatre or film work such as acting or writing plays.

Personal Qualities

Artistic directors need to be:

  • creative and imaginative
  • patient, persistent and focused
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to lead a team of people
  • good at research
  • excellent communicators, with good people skills
  • good at time management, planning and organisation
  • strong decision makers
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures.


Artistic directors need to have:

  • knowledge of how to interpret and direct drama or dance
  • knowledge of the local and international performing arts industry
  • marketing and promotional skills
  • the ability to plan strategically
  • business, finance and budgeting skills.


Artistic directors:

  • often work long and irregular hours, including nights and weekends
  • work in theatres, studios and other venues where productions are staged
  • may also work from home, in offices, or recording studios
  • may travel to see or work on performances around New Zealand and overseas.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an artistic director. However, te reo Māori, English, music, dance and drama, media studies, classics and history are useful.

Artistic directors may progress into project, events or business management roles.

Artistic directors may specialise in:

  • dance
  • drama
  • festivals.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become an artistic director. However, a relevant tertiary qualification in performing arts, arts administration, or business management may be useful.

Experience in the entertainment industry and proven ability are essential.

Artistic Director