The Arts

As the population of the Jacksonville region expands, so do the occupations that support the growth of the area. Northeast Florida continues to grow its cultural attractions and none are more important than the arts. The Northeast Florida area offers a variety of arts jobs including Art Teacher, Music Teacher, Furniture Designer, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, 3D Artist, Animator, Interior Designer, Writer, Painter and Musician.

Industry Report

Arts jobs bring a distinct cultural flair, generate a sense of well-being, and inspire intellectual and personal reflection. The arts unite people by way of provoking their senses, reflecting times of cultural change, and capturing common stories that make us human. Arts jobs allow those in this Career Pathway to express their unique talents to engage their communities and provide tremendous added value to those within them.

In addition to art jobs with great companies in the Jacksonville area, there is a great opportunity to start your own business. The region provides a strong, supportive environment for artistic entrepreneurs and the community has an inviting culture for those looking to make their passion their profession. You can review the Arts Career Pathway to see what options are available and where you can take your career.

It is also important to recognize the career choices that are available for artists in the Jacksonville area school system. The need for the arts in school has never been lost on the educators in Northeast Florida and therefore provide a chance to serve future generations with teaching on painting, music, drama, dancing, drawing, writing and more. For those looking to fill those roles, please check with your local school districts.

Make sure to review the Arts Career Pathway to learn more about what you can do to prepare for a fulfilling career with the creative class. The Jacksonville region needs artists and wants you to be part of our community.

Art Companies in the Region

Steven Libman

President and CEO, Jacksonville Symphony

Steven Libman recognized his passion for theater, dance and classical music as a youth attending a high school offering a strong theater program. That exposure led him to decide that he wanted to spend his life working in the performing arts.

“I was entranced by the deep, emotional connection between the artist and the audience,” said President and CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony, Steven Libman.

The Jacksonville Symphony, with a budget of $13.5 million, serves over 113,000 people each season through performances in Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts and through its Community Engagement programs. The Symphony is the largest arts organization in Northeast Florida, the largest symphony orchestra in Florida and is vital to Jacksonville’s economic development. Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.3 percent of GDP, or $1.10 trillion, in 2022.

Libman is responsible for the financial management, fundraising, marketing and production functions for the Jacksonville Symphony and partners with the Music Director Courtney Lewis on long range planning and programming. Libman is nationally recognized for developing an entrepreneurial and creative approach to strategic planning, fundraising, programming, branding, marketing initiatives, institutional growth and problem solving.

While in college, Libman majored in economics management and administration. He earned a bachelor’s degree in performing arts management from Rhode Island College.

“I was fortunate that I knew what I wanted to do as a career at a young age,” said Libman. “It’s also good to know what you’re good at and where you excel.”

Libman’s successful career as an arts executive has led to positions throughout the country. He started as Managing Director of the Rev Theatre Company (formerly the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival) and the Fulton Opera House before being named Managing Director of the Pittsburgh Ballet, where he spent 17 years. Libman became Managing Director of the La Jolla Playhouse, President/CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, and Chief Advancement Officer for the Atlanta Ballet.

Over the years, Libman has played a key role connecting millions of people to artists. Highlights include reaching new audiences by producing ballets set to the music of Sting, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and others at the Pittsburgh Ballet. The Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys” was created at La Jolla Playhouse and during Libman’s tenure he was part of the team that successfully transferred the production to Broadway.

Libman joined the Jacksonville Symphony in January 2020 and navigated the Symphony through the COVID-19 pandemic during his first year. The Jacksonville Symphony was one of only 10 orchestras in America that performed in their hall during the 2020/21 Season.

Libman recognizes the importance of working with a great leadership team and committed staff.  For more than two years, Libman and his team have been planning the Symphony’s 75th Anniversary Season, which opens on September 21, 2024, with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2. The season also will include more than 40 guest artists, the world premiere of three new works, a Jimmy Buffett tribute and visits from Harry Potter and Han Solo.

For those interested in a successful arts management career, Libman recommends having a deep knowledge of several art forms, as well as understanding of the production function. Strong writing and speaking skills are essential. It is also vital to have financial management, marketing and fundraising skills.

“You should be a consumer of information,” Libman said. “Are you insanely curious about the world and what’s happening around you?”

Most of all, Libman says, “It’s important to have a good time, be joyful and maintain a sense of humor.”

Josué Cruz

Director of Development, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville

Josué Cruz is an artist and Intercultural communicator whose passion is bridging the gap between creativity and performance.

The longtime artist and entertainer has worked in the arts for several years as a performer and a facilitator. Cruz is Owner and Managing Partner of LPT Salsa, LLC, a 10-piece salsa music orchestra, and the Director of Development for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. which enriches the arts through its support to cultural organizations, individual artists and the Public Art Program. He also contributes to numerous publications as a freelance writer.

“I always had an attraction for the arts but I never thought it would be my career path until my later high school years,” said Cruz, who moved to Jacksonville from South Florida in 2011.

Cruz recognized his interest in creative writing after winning a poetry writing contest as a middle school student. His love for performing emerged as a teenager and continues today. Cruz is lead vocalist for LPT, a group that performs locally as well as across the globe. One of his most memorable performances took place in a small Australian town that didn’t offer many live music performances.

“It’s very rewarding to perform in places that are absent of art and experience how important art is to that community,” Cruz said.

He is a connoisseur of all fine art forms spanning from opera to rap, poetry, romantic landscapes and neo-classical imagery. Cruz’s enthusiasm for facilitating the growth and success of artists is equally strong. As Director of Development, Cruz is responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and facilitating the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s fundraising needs. These include individual, foundation, and corporate sponsorships, establishing major gifts and planned giving programs, and grant-writing.

“It all comes down to the impact you can have going forward,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s career began as a Language Arts/Creative Writing teacher and evolved with a wide variety of cultural, educational and leadership positions.

“I love learning about a project and helping people turn their dreams into realistic, attainable goals,” he said.

For success, artists must possess the skills of their craft, whether it is writing, music or the visual arts. Other skills come into play including perseverance, organization and communication skills. Cruz believes an artist’s success is a result of having adaptability and humility. Rather than follow a narrow path, be multi-dimensional and learn as much as you can about everything.

“You never know when a piece of knowledge is going to open a door,” Cruz said.

An entrepreneur at heart, Cruz says his enterprising spirit has helped him navigate a career in the arts.

“You have to understand the business of art in order to make a sustainable living and have a positive economic impact on your life,” Cruz said.

Grant funding though the Cultural Council and other organizations is available. Cruz said it is vital for artists to do their research before applying and be prepared to demonstrate their capabilities in the application and reports.

Most importantly, Cruz said understand what opportunities you are willing to pursue.

“Recognize that line you won’t cross,” Cruz said. “A successful artist knows his or her values.”

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee

CEO of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

As a youth growing up in Alexandria, Va., Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., describes the Smithsonian museums as her playground for exploration, discovery and fun. Those game changing experiences provided the initial spark that began her career pathway.

“It was a real privilege to have access to the ultimate field trip destination,” said Brownlee, the George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs director and chief executive officer of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. Brownlee leads a “phenomenal group of professionals” with a focus on the institution’s strategic vision, donor engagement and funding.
“My days are very rich and full, and I love every moment,” Brownlee said.

An art historian, curator, educator and writer, Brownlee is a graduate of Spelman College (B.A., English and Art History) and Duke University (Ph.D., Art History). While at Duke, she realized she would have to decide whether her career would lead to academia or institutions. While contemplating her future, she avoided limitations.
“One of the most impactful pieces of advice I received was to ‘cast a wide net,’” said Brownlee.

The recommendation came from Dr. Richard Powell, a mentor and her Art History professor/graduate school advisor at Duke.

“There were many opportunities and I was trying to determine what I wanted to do,” Brownlee said. “He encouraged me to apply for everything that might be of interest.”
Brownlee’s path led to The Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, where she flourished as a MacArthur Curatorial Fellow.

Prior to joining the Cummer Museum in 2020, Brownlee served as director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art for nearly 20 years. Her duties included engaging directly with artists and learning what drives them. At Spelman, she guided the Spelman College Curatorial Studies Program and expanded her efforts to educate the next generation of museum professionals by assuming a dual role as senior strategist for the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective. During her tenure, she flourished as an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute and received numerous awards including the David C. Driskell Prize in African American Art and Art History.
“The responsibilities were vastly different but extraordinarily rewarding,” Brownlee said. “I discovered that I had multiple sparks and opportunities to combine them. The experience was so rich for me.”

Other accomplishments, which are detailed on her Wikipedia page, include writing four books on artists.

“I did not intend to be an author, yet one experience built upon another,” Brownlee said. “There were unbelievable, intoxicating opportunities that allowed me to evolve as a writer and editor.”

Brownlee’s work has historically focused on the promotion of female African-American artists. Mentors, including Dr. Powell, Dr. Driskell and her kindergarten teacher, Margarette Peterson, have guided her career.

Brownlee’s success reflects her spirit of collaboration and effective written and verbal communication skills. Critical thinking – being able to synthesize ideas and break them into manageable parts – is vital to achieve goals.

A self-described lifelong learner, taking an improvisational class is on Brownlee’s future wish list.

“In an improv class, you explore the skills to be effective, think outside of the typical box and deliver,” Brownlee said. “I would love to have those skills in my arsenal.”

Brownlee’s love of learning, unique talents and abilities, and her inclusive approach to teamwork have allowed her to create and enjoy a rewarding career pathway in the Arts.

Renee Parenteau


Making others look good inspires picture perfect career for Renee Parenteau

Inspired by art, fashion and beauty, Renee Parenteau enjoys a successful career as a professional photographer and makeup artist, bringing skill, artistry and enthusiasm to every project.

“I’m fortunate that I can incorporate my passion and lifestyle into my work,” said Parenteau, owner of Renee Parenteau Photography in Springfield. “I love getting to know people and helping them bring out their best so that they feel and look great for the photo.”
Parenteau opened the studio when she moved to Jacksonville in 2007.

She was recognized as the JAX Chamber Downtown Council’s Small Business Leader of the Year in 2016 and as a Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2014.

Fluent in Spanish, French and English, her services include corporate photography, commercial shoots, special events, family photos and individual headshots. Parenteau’s offerings include a photo package which gives her clients the "celebrity experience" with professional makeup and wardrobe changes.

“My niche is the celebrity experience,” Parenteau said. “Every detail – makeup, hair, lighting and clothing – is important in a picture.”

During her career, Parenteau has traveled the world working with numerous celebrities including Kenny Chesney, John Travolta, Roberta Flack and Billy Horschel. Before relocating to Jacksonville, she also served clients in Los Angeles in business, entertainment, advertising and professional sports.

“My career has given me a great opportunity to know so many amazing people,” Parenteau said.

Growing up in Oregon and California, Parenteau attended the Fashion Institute in Portland after high school. After visiting a makeup studio located next door to the Fashion Institute, Parenteau knew that she wanted to work professionally as a makeup artist. Parenteau relocated to Seattle and enrolled in cosmetology school and began working with the Seattle Opera doing theater makeup. She went to work at a salon where the owner’s husband was a photographer and gained experience doing makeup for photo shoots. A move to Los Angeles followed where she enjoyed success working as a makeup artist in the advertising industry.

“A makeup artist is very valued as part of the production team,” Parenteau said.

Working side-by-side with many talented photographers sparked Parenteau’s interest in the business of photography. She studied photography at Escuela de Fotografia in Madrid, Spain, shifting her career focus prior to moving to Jacksonville.
“It was important to me to diversify my skills,” Parenteau said.

For those interested in a photography career, Parenteau recommends a formal education as well as working alongside a photographer whose work they admire. Be aware of current trends, such as video and AI, be prepared to pivot and understand how to run a business. A lifelong entrepreneur, Parenteau doesn’t have employees and does all of the work herself – prepping for shoots, processing photos, answering inquires, booking, bookkeeping and marketing.

“It’s important to produce great photos, but you also need to know how to price, bill and market your services,” Parenteau said. "Use social media platforms to promote your business and also to learn what other creative businesses are doing. Most importantly, know your value. Always keep your value by charging a competitive rate or coming to an agreement in trade of equal or greater value than your fee.”