ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence

A Career in the Arts: Marketing

Introducing Jennifer Covert, Marketer for NAC English Theatre.

There are several hundred people employed at the NAC in jobs as diverse as carpenter, website manager, fundraiser, graphic artist and education coordinator. Each jobs supports the artists onstage. Jennifer is responsible for single ticket sales for English Theatre productions. She works to build audiences.
image:Jennifer Covert. Photo credit: Ben Ballon © National Arts Centre
Jennifer Covert. Photo credit: Ben Ballon © National Arts Centre

There are many different paths to a career in the arts. Each person’s story is unique.

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Drama from McMaster University, which she describes as “a practical introduction to virtually all aspects of theatre: acting, directing, stage management and technical production.” She also holds a Masters of Arts (MA) in Theatre History from the University of British Columbia.

She has an impressive academic background, but how did she get from her studies to her office at Canada’s National Arts Centre?

Jennifer arrived at the NAC in 1999, as an intern through a Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) training program. She landed in the Marketing department, and started working for Music. At that time, she created content for house programmes, which involved a lot of fact checking and liaising with musicians’ agencies to verify biographical details, background information, etc.

An intern, like Jennifer at the time, typically moves around an organization, learning how things work in many areas. After enlarging her knowledge of other artistic disciplines at the NAC, she found herself working with English Theatre.

In a way, she’s come full-circle from her studies: she is in theatre again, but this time she is responsible for ensuring that audiences find out about performances and that tickets get sold. With over 800 seats in the NAC’s Theatre, 300 in the Studio, nine shows in a season and multiple performances of each, she has a lot of tickets to think about!

When asked what character traits help her in her current job, she lists:

  • creative thinking
  • a strong visual sense
  • the ability to work with numbers in order to understand budgets and statistics
  • a talent for organization, planning and multi-tasking
  • diplomacy and the ability to build consensus
  • a desire to work with the public, and
  • the ability to speak two languages. Jennifer describes herself as “pretty darn bilingual” but continues to take French classes.

In terms of the challenges of the job she says, “Life moves quickly and change is constant, so the pace of work is hectic.” In order to sell tickets, she must build a relationship with audiences, and consider them as individuals rather than numbers, so she is often “in the middle” as she brokers discussions and transfers important information. It’s all a bit of a balancing act.

“I can keep a lot of things going at once, which is an great skill to have, but it requires focus. My favourite part of the job is the creative aspect…the necessity to come up with brand new ideas. I get to think creatively about a subject I love.”

A passion for the arts and the ability to work hard are prerequisites for the job, allowing Jennifer to go the extra mile for the NAC and its patrons.

Thanks to people like Jennifer, tickets continually get sold and patrons see the best in Canadian performing arts from one season to the next, and year after year.