MANAGING DIRECTOR POSITION PROFILE THEATREWORKS USA
NEW YORK, NY
History and Background
Theatreworks USA was founded in 1961 by Jay Harnick and Charles Hull, who subsequently led the organization for 39 years until they simultaneously retired in 2000. At that juncture, the baton was passed to Barbara Pasternack and Ken Arthur, who became artistic director and managing director. Mr. Arthur is retiring from his post in June of this year; Ms. Pasternack remains in her role as artistic director.
The mission is clear: Theatreworks USA develops and delivers professional theatre productions to a national audience of children and families. Since its founding in 1961, Theatreworks has presented more than 90 million children and their families with opportunities to enjoy theatrical productions in 49 states and Canada. Each season, three million children, many of whom have no other access to the performing arts, attend original productions in venues as varied as local elementary school gymnasiums, regional fine arts centers, and major Broadway-sized theatres. Theatreworks tours up to 16 shows each season from its repertoire of 133 plays and musicals. In addition, Theatreworks has an extensive multi-cultural roster of guest artists, including storytellers, puppeteers, poets, and magicians. The overarching goals of Theatreworks' programs are the following:
- Create shows that stimulate reading and discussion on the cultural, historical, and/or social issues and themes represented in each show. These exceptional new plays and musicals are often based on popular contemporary literary
- Nurture and work with talented emerging writers, directors, and designers as well as established talent.
- Foster a love of theater and reading for young
- Encourage young people to tap into their own reservoirs of creativity and
- Present role models and encourage positive values through the shows'
- Enhance the theatre experience which children share with their friends and classmates, teachers, and
- Develop a life-long appreciation for the
- Build the audiences of the
Theatreworks USA has a distinguished history of not only providing young audiences with their first taste of the performing arts, but also giving young actors, writers, directors, and designers an early opportunity to work in the field. A list of its alumni is a veritable "who's who" of theatre, including Jerry Zaks (four-time Tony-winning director), Robert Lopez (two-time-Tony winner), F. Murray Abraham (Academy Award Winner for Amadeus), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Colman Domingo (The Scottsboro Boys), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), and Judy Kuhn (Les Misérables) are among the many writers and actors who got their start with Theatreworks.
Theatreworks USA is first and foremost a professional, producing theater company. Although based in New York City, it has an expansive national reach. Most of its performances are seen in other cities and its tours have traveled to 49 states and Canada. All productions are staffed exclusively by actors and stage managers who are members of Actors’ Equity Association. There are three primary programs under the Theatreworks umbrella:
- Class Trips. Theatreworks manages school-time field trip programs in 73 venues in 71 cities across the Teachers call the New York box office to purchase low-cost tickets for their class.
- Theatreworks USA representatives attend arts conferences and showcases throughout the year to meet with performing arts administrators, school districts, and arts councils who purchase Theatreworks shows for their audiences. Tickets to National Touring productions are sold and/or distributed by the individual presenter.
- Free Summer Theater. By special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation, Theatreworks USA invites 15,000 New York City area students, teachers, and families to free performances of an Off-Broadway production during July and August. Most tickets are distributed to over 150 social service agencies and summer school programs, including NYC’s Dept. of Youth and Community
Information on Theatreworks USA may be found on its website: http://www.theatreworksusa.org
Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director
For over 30 years, Barbara has developed and produced almost 100 original plays and musicals, creating a critically acclaimed, diverse repertoire of family entertainment. Barbara has cultivated artistic relationships with hundreds of new and established writers, directors and performers. An accomplished dramaturge, Ms. Pasternack has optioned, commissioned, and produced musicals and plays based on a variety of well-known literary properties including Little Women, which later was expanded and produced on Broadway, Sarah Plain & Tall, which was selected for the O'Neill Festival and later produced by Dallas Theater Center, The Giver and Red Clay, which were later expanded and further developed by regional theaters.
Board of Directors
Theatreworks USA is governed by a 17-member Board of Directors, including ex officio seats for the Artistic Director and Managing Director. While many trustees have a long history with and commitment to the organization, there are also a number of trustees who have joined the Board in recent years.
Theatreworks USA occupies two floors of a Chelsea building, a total of 25,000’ feet. One floor houses offices and the other has ten studio spaces of varying sizes. There are 18 fulltime employees and up to 120 part-time and seasonal employees.
Theatreworks has a significant history of producing new works – both commissioned and previously unproduced works – with as many as four new works created in a single season.
Theatreworks USA operates on an annual budget of just over $8 million. Income from touring shows – either from presentation fees or self-produced class field trip fees – comprises just over 75% of current income. A robust space rental program called “Chelsea Studios” offers shared use of these spaces to other commercial and nonprofit organizations. Rental fees now comprise nearly 10% of Theatreworks’ annual income. Annual contributed income represents just over 6% of Theatreworks’ revenue, including individual, Board, and institutional support.
Opportunities and Challenges
The next Managing Director of Theatreworks will find a devoted staff and Board. Commitment to the mission – producing affordable, quality theater experiences for young people across the country – is embraced by all. As recent history attests, the number of children’s theater touring companies has diminished significantly. While other theaters tour work for young people, Theatreworks is the sole
company devoted to this endeavor. Productions – primarily musicals – are self-contained with five to six actors and a stage manager traveling in two vehicles. An ongoing assessment of the current touring
market and how to deliver the highest quality work to those markets is critical to the Theatreworks’
Theatreworks’ facility lease ends in August 2018. Efforts are currently underway to identify a new home, as a move will be inevitable in the coming calendar year.
There is a collectively held view that contributed support will take on a larger percentage of the revenue portfolio. Strategies to build these efforts will need to be developed and aligned with the current resource allocation for program delivery.
New work development is a core strength of Theatreworks. Developing new pieces with eye toward a post-Theatreworks run (e.g., in conjunction with other nonprofit or commercial producing partners) is an area of interest for the organization. In the current season, a new piece – The Lightening Thief – was developed and opened in the Lucille Lortel Theatre in late March.
Finally, expanding awareness in New York City of Theatreworks and its work is critical, as this will
enhance the organization’s brand, messaging, and fund-raising.
Position and Responsibilities
The Managing Director works in a co-CEO relationship with the Artistic Director; both positions report to the Board of Directors through the Chair. It is, of course, critically important that the individuals in these two positions work in a cohesive and productive manner. The central roles of the Managing Director are as follows:
- Forge effective and positive working relationships with the Artistic Director and Board of
- Align all human and financial resources in a way that can sustainably realize the strategic and artistic vision for the
- Lead Theatreworks’ fundraising activities in a strategic and proactive
- Develop communication strategies and guide marketing, external messaging, and branding.
- Assure ongoing fiscal discipline by creating and achieving balanced operating
- Forge and maintain important external relationships across the country and in New York
- Hire, manage and motivate the staff team and set the tone for a positive working
- Act as a primary external voice and advocate of Theatreworks.