Many arts organisations are seeking communications coordinators – what skills do you actually need?

More than what the job title may suggest, communications coordinators require a vast array of responsibilities and skills, and those who thrive are expert storytellers.
Photo: SHVETS production, Pexels.

According to ArtsHub‘s job listing statistics, there has been a sharp rise in arts organisations seeking communications professionals from the beginning of 2024, and demand for such roles has always been high in the first quarter of the year.

Communications coordinators are the experts at what their title suggests – communication – and this can include communicating brand values, programming details, fundraising initiatives and more. The projects can be incredibly varied, from marketing campaigns to implementing engagement strategies for growth, and they can involve a multitude of stakeholders. Because of the nature of this role, it often requires a clear understanding of the organisation’s mission, culture and audience.

A really good comms specialist takes that a step further into the realm of storytelling, ensuring that those on the receiving end – including writers and journalists like the team at ArtsHub – are not only provided with key information in a clear and concise manner, but are also hooked in to learn more.

So what qualifications do you need to become a communications coordinator and what makes an ideal candidate? ArtsHub digs into some research and recent job listings to learn more.

Training and qualifications

While, like most job in the arts, there are no set rules for becoming a comms specialist, some level of formal education helps. This can include a degree in media and comms, marketing, advertising, social media or PR (public relations).

Skills such as writing, project management and content development are pretty much part of the day-to-day responsibilities, alongside data analytics and reporting. This means you must have knowledge and hands-on experience of online platforms, including Salesforce, WordPress, Mailchimp and Google Analytics.

Previous experience in arts administration could also help boost your portfolio if this is your first time venturing into comms, but the communications coordinator or manager roles are usually reserved for people with a couple of years of experience under their belt.

For those starting out, some universities, such as Deakin and University of Queensland, offer specialist communication internships.

Read: 10 entry-level arts jobs to consider (part 1)

Other essential attributes

Good communication is a superpower, whether this is written or verbal. Because the arts sector caters to a diverse range of stakeholders and increasingly champions for access, it is vital to have a keen awareness of current social and cultural conversations, and maintain a level of sensitivity. Marketing and communications campaigns that backfire are often criticised for being “tone-deaf”, “clickbait” or perpetuating stigma and stereotypes for the sake of attention.

This can usually be avoided by working together with other departments and colleagues, such as the artists, educators or engagement officers of an arts organisation, who interact with their audiences on a daily basis. It means that a good communications campaign is a collaborative effort, and those who are team players will thrive.

Interpersonal skills are also vital, especially when it comes to tricky situations involving multiple stakeholders that may have their own perspectives, even when everyone is working towards the same goal.

And last, but not least, being able to think outside the box and adopt a creative approach to problem-solving can be advantageous, especially in an arts setting.

Bonus points

Out of many of the communications coordinator job listings on ArtsHub, graphic design comes off as a highly desirable skill that will score prospective candidates bonus points for the role. This includes proficiency in Canva, Photoshop, InDesign or Adobe Creative Suite, to help mould information into visual material that can effectively communicate the core elements of the message.

Understanding of photography and video is also a plus, as communications coordinators are often tasked with managing workflow and budget, alongside content creators and producers.

And what does success in the role look like? When a campaign resonates with the target audience and prompts them into action – whether that be buying a ticket to a show, donating to support arts initiatives, or simply sharing the message with their peers and community – then you know you’re on the right track.

Find the latest marketing and communications job opportunities on ArtsHub.

Built upon a proud 24-year heritage, ArtsHub is Australia's leading independent online resource dedicated to the world of the arts. Our passionate team actively pursues a vision of being a world-class arts and culture publishing, media and marketplace business that significantly contributes to developing a dynamic, diverse and prosperous arts industry.