DHR International has been exclusively retained to conduct a search for the Executive Director, International Festival of Arts & Ideas. James Abruzzo, Global Head, DHR Nonprofit Practice, is leading this assignment.
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas (the “Festival”) anchored itself into the region’s consciousness when it produced its first festival in June 1996. Since then, the Festival has demonstrated its commitment to the global and local, to the power arts and ideas, and to its twin founding roots of building community and contributing to economic vitality. The Festival’s goal is to bring people together, increase tolerance and understanding, and enhance regional growth.
Our mission is to create an internationally renowned festival in New Haven of the highest quality with world-class artists, thinkers and leaders, attracting and engaging a broad and diverse audience, celebrating and building community and advancing economic development.
From the first Festival in 1996 of five days and 45,000 attendees to the 20th Festival held over three weeks with 100,000 attendees, the Festival has continued to expand its impact and reach. As a registered 501(c) (3) based in New Haven, the Festival’s multiple sites within the city provide beautiful and historically vital settings and are located ideally for pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic—and can be reached by public transportation.
This celebration of the arts and humanities occurs in a community that already enjoys vibrant arts and humanities ecology and a number of world-class institutions of higher learning, including Yale University. This exchange of ideas is meant to foster understanding and share knowledge among different cultures and over generations. The Festival showcases artists from around the world and engages the ethnically diverse local and regional artists and thought leaders. Over 85% of the programs are presented without charge to ensure that the Festival is accessible. The Festival aims to create a balance among artistic and ideas presentations; full engagement of the diverse communities; and significant outcomes socially and economically.
The Festival’s fundamental aspirations are to attract and present world-class artists, provide a wide range of artistic experiences, provoke the mind, spur economic revitalization, attract a diverse audience, involve and integrate the community, provide enriching experiences for the young, aid in the development of new works, support regional arts, create a celebratory atmosphere with lasting memories, showcase the riches of New Haven to visitors, and enhance the image of New Haven and the State of Connecticut to the world.
In recent years the Festival added a robust education program to its portfolio of work, developing a Festival Fellows program for high school students that offer college credit through collaboration with a local community college. In addition, efforts to engage neighborhoods in developing site specific mini-festivals have resulted in neighborhood-based pop-up celebrations that have contributed to regional collaborations. The new Executive Director will be responsible for the development and evolution of these and other emerging programs.
The Festival is also well-established as a dominant local, state, and regional force. The State of Connecticut, the City of New Haven, five colleges and universities, local and regional corporations, foundations, and individuals support the Festival.
The organization is governed by a Board of Directors of approximately 40 individuals made up of members representing business, academic, arts, neighborhood, and government interests with the President of Yale University and the Mayor of the City of New Haven sitting as Honorary Co-Chairs. There are 14 professionals on permanent staff; including part and full time, there are over 200 seasonal hires, and over 280 volunteers each year.
The annual operating budget has ranged from $2-$4 million (depending on the nature of the programming), not including important in-kind support for infrastructure, city services, and venues. Recently, the board created a “Fund for the Future” that ensures greater financial stability and a fund for investing in new programs and commissions.
SCOPE AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
Vision and Leadership
- Provide the overall vision and leadership for the organization as it continues to expand its reach, explore ideas, and embrace its local communities.
- Provide and passionately articulate the overall artistic and organizational vision for the organization, consistent with its mission.
- Inspire the board, staff, partners, volunteers, donors, community leaders and members, government officials, and other academic and professional constituency groups to continue to position the Festival as an important regional and international event.
- Represent the Festival organization throughout the year within the community extending stakeholder relationships, and globally, creating and nurturing collaborations, partnerships, and commissions.
- Lead the ongoing strategic planning process, engaging a broad group of stakeholders, and develop with the Board and staff, over time, an evolution of the Festival’s existing strategic plan in a manner that will best lead to the organization’s sustainability, which naturally includes attention to bottom line positive financial results each year.
- Work with the Board to develop clear artistic, social, and economic outcomes, and the means to evaluate progress toward achieving them.
- Expand the reach and depth of the board membership.
- Weave positive values of cultural diversity into the fabric of the Festival across staff, repertoire, and audience.
- Establish oneself as a “creative force” and “concerned citizen” in the region.
- Set the standards for the values of diversity, inclusion and quality.
- Serve as the primary spokesperson for the Festival.
- Provide imaginative leadership toward the development of the artistic and intellectual programs of the Festival.
- With the program manager and partnering collaborators, ensure that the programming is at the highest level – relevant, new and interesting. Create programming that pushes individuals beyond their comfort zone and pulls diverse groups together around important topics and ideas.
- Develop and nurture international partnerships and commissions and ensure that the regional and local artists, arts groups, universities and libraries, and interested citizens, participate in the Festival.
- Participate in Festival events as a spokesperson, introducing and participating in panels and community discussions.
- Create additional programming to extend the Festival’s reach and prominence beyond the month of June.
Management, Marketing, and Fundraising
- With the Chief Operating Officer, ensure that the operating and program budgets are managed prudently and that funds are invested in an innovative manner.
- Mentor, manage, encourage, and celebrate the staff, seeking ways to stretch their talents and to reward their accomplishments.
- Identify and seek the major financial support necessary for the Festival’s future (in close collaboration with the development staff and the Board of Directors).
- Interacting directly with state officials, corporate and foundation executives, continually seek to make the case for support of the Festival.
- Develop and steward donor relationships.
- Encourage and support the use of technology, CRM, dynamic pricing, and other modern arts management methods to increase efficiency and maximize productivity.
- Lead the marketing and public relations efforts to ensure that the Festival is maximizing its earned income potential and extending and clarifying its brand locally and internationally.
Previous Executive Directors became or were full-time residents in the greater New Haven region
The chosen candidate will be the one who brings the optimum mix of the following skills, achievements, and values:
- Proven ability and experience to oversee the creation of a complex arts and humanities festival.
- An experienced leader—someone who, through past experience and career path, has demonstrated an ability to create a sustainable, relevant, creative, and accessible institution.
- Proven ability to balance artistic risks with prudential financial management.
- Someone who believes in the value of arts and ideas, specifically in the context of enhancing social cohesion and regional economic development.
- Proven experience as an enthusiastic and energetic fundraiser, with excellent speaking, writing, and communication skills; an individual who relishes interaction with committed donors and who enjoys “closing” gifts.
- A proven collaborator; an executive who has participated in partnerships, joint producing, and commissions.
- A demonstrated commitment to innovation and an entrepreneurial and enterprising spirit.
- Proven success in guiding a cultural project or company, and demonstrated management and supervisory skills, especially in a challenging environment.
- Communication skills; presence and willingness to be the public face of an organization that has multiple objectives and a range of stakeholders.
- Recognized creative sensibility and an international awareness, rooted in a deep knowledge of, and wide-ranging contacts and respect, within the arts world.
- Passionate belief in the value of interaction of our diverse communities with art and artists.
- A combination of experience and academic preparation that gives confidence in his or her leadership of the Festival.
- Proven experience in leading effective partnerships and fostering co-beneficial collaborations.
- Excellent judgment with the decisiveness and resourcefulness to anticipate and respond to opportunities; effective under pressure and able to handle constant multi-tasking.
- High integrity; an enthusiasm and tenacity to make things happen; and a sense of humor to render it enjoyable.
- A bachelor degree or equivalent is required, an advanced degree is preferred.
Salary will be commensurate with the scale of the organization and the environment in which it operates. Benefits include health insurance, vacation, and an employee-funded contribution to a retirement plan.
Please send résumé to:
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability or status as a U.S. veteran.