Founded in 1979, Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, Massachusetts is dedicated to developing and producing new plays that tell great stories and explore what it means to be alive today. MRT has mounted more than 200 productions in its 37-year history, including 23 world premieres and 40 regional premieres. Primarily serving the Merrimack Valley, a region of northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and located approximately 45 minutes from Boston, MRT is known as a leader in cultivating and celebrating new, vibrant, contemporary plays, frequently producing world and regional premieres. Led by Artistic Director Sean Daniels, MRT believes that artists are at the core of all creative work. He focuses on developing relationships with leading artists from around the region and the country. MRT is a cultural resource for the community, producing a seven-show season that strives to remove barriers to access and build community partnerships. The season runs from September through May in the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall, a 279-seat theatre located adjacent to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
Engagement with audiences of all ages is paramount and MRT exceeds the traditional models by providing unique opportunities for the community to connect with artists. The Cohort Club gives audiences the extraordinary experience of becoming part of the production, observing the rehearsal and production process and discussing the work with the artists. The Young Company initiative offers middle and high school students a fun, fully-immersive, year-long program of classes and workshops with professional theatre artists where they create an original play and participate in the inner-workings of a professional theatre company.
MRT is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. It is the only professional theatre company in the Merrimack Valley region and one of three League of Resident Theatres (LORT) in Massachusetts. MRT is also an Associate Member of the National New Play Network and a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group.
MRT is governed by a 30-member board of trustees, led by Chair Nancy L. Donahue and President Donald Bedard. The organization also receives advisory assistance from a 12-member board of overseers. Both boards are composed of community leaders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. MRT employs 20 full-time and 7 part-time employees as well as approximately 30 over-hire/seasonal employees. MRT’s operating budget for 2016 was more than $2.3 million, with more than $1.3 million in earned revenue and more than $1 million in contributed revenue.
Founded in the 1820s as a manufacturing center for textiles, Lowell is located 30 miles outside of Boston and is situated along the rapids of the Merrimack River. By the 1850s, Lowell had the largest industrial complex in the United States. The textile industry wove cotton produced in the South and the city continued to thrive as a major industrial center throughout the 19th century. Though manufacturing declined in the early 20th century, Lowell rebounded in the 1980s and the revitalization continues today. The city is a superlative example of the creative economy model of urban revitalization. Cultural development became the focus and these efforts began to attract companies and families back to the urban center. Historic manufacturing and commercial buildings were adapted as residential units and office space. By the 1990s, the city saw the arrival of an increased student population as the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Middlesex Community College expanded their programs and enrollment. Healthcare and technology sectors began to grow as well, with software companies like MACOM Technology Solutions locating their headquarters in the Greater Lowell area.
Lowell offers highly desirable amenities while remaining affordable. The median home value is estimated at $250,500 and the median annual household income is about $55,915. It is a diverse city with distinct neighborhoods, including Lower Highlands (also known as Little Cambodia), featuring the vibrant food and culture of one of the nation’s largest Cambodian populations. Lowell has a remarkable number of old factory buildings that have been beautifully refurbished as luxury apartments and loft-style living alternatives. There are also pockets of historic homes sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods. Lowell is served by two major airports, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Boston Logan International Airport, both approximately 30 miles from downtown. There are ample public transportation options, including multiple fixed route bus services, paratransit services, and the Lowell Line of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail system, which connects the city to Boston. Lowell’s public school system offers strong community partnerships and a diverse student population. The city also features several highly rated private and charter schools.
The cultural hub of the Merrimack Valley, Lowell is a city where arts and culture are for and by everyone. There are multiple museums and galleries, a thriving restaurant scene, and first-class entertainment venues bringing internationally acclaimed music, events, and NCAA Division I sports to the Merrimack Valley. The city is also home to the Lowell Spinners, a Boston Red Sox affiliate team. Festivals abound, including the Lowell Folk Festival, the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival, and the Lowell Summer Music Series. Additionally, Lowell National Historical Park, one of New England’s treasures, offers exhibits highlighting the region's many generations of immigrants as well as a working streetcar line and canal boat tours.
Sources: lowellsun.com; greaterlowellcc.org; zillow.com; bizjournals.com; City-data.com
The Executive Director (ED) of MRT will be a results-oriented leader, responsible for supervising all aspects of the organization’s managerial operations, fundraising, public visibility, and strategic business planning. The ED will have strong financial acumen and possess the skills to help raise MRT’s profile, enabling major fundraising efforts to support annual operations and strategic initiatives. This individual will value teamwork, integrity, innovation, and professionalism. The successful candidate will be a collaborative and forward-looking leader, able to identify new initiatives, partnerships, and opportunities to further enhance MRT’s success. The ED will promote a culture of compassion and creativity with the staff, board, and community partners, embracing diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The ability to mentor staff and mobilize the board is essential. The ED will be an open, communicative, and confident professional who brings creativity, vision, and energy to the position. This individual will have the development experience necessary to lead and engage a wide cross-section of stakeholders in all fundraising areas. The ED and the Artistic Director are both responsible for the leadership of the organization and both report to the Board of Trustees. It is critical that the ED have a desire to work closely and collaboratively with the Artistic Director.
Roles and Responsibilities
Vision, Strategy, and Leadership
- Embody and provide positive and collaborative leadership to the board and staff.
- Partner with the Artistic Director in the activities of the organization.
- Lead the coordination in the development of the overall annual budget.
- Develop an organizational culture that supports a cohesive, creative, and productive staff.
- Manage the use of capital and operating funds and identify needs for facilities, equipment, and management.
- Lead an inclusive strategic planning process, working with the Artistic Director, board, staff, and community stakeholders to develop a visionary plan for programming, instructional, and performance opportunities.
- Cultivate an organization with the highest ethical standards.
- Interview, hire, and mentor staff, assign work, and provide performance appraisals on a regular basis.
- Participate in industry meetings and organizations to share and implement current best practices and business standards.
- Direct MRT’s fundraising strategies and provide organizational leadership in all aspects of development.
- Have strong development leadership skills and an ability to inspire and engage stakeholders and the community to support positive fundraising efforts for MRT.
- Collaborate with the board to develop short- and long-term goals and strategies around all areas of contributed revenue.
- Mobilize the board to get in front of top prospects and proactively engage in fundraising activity.
- Identify and establish key relationships with potential funders and donors to facilitate the development of new and renewed sources of contributed support.
- Supervise all grant-making activities, re-examine the current grant structure and formula, work with the staff to develop more opportunities, and manage the grant-making process.
- Coach and mentor the development staff.
- Oversee all daily operations of MRT to ensure the organization runs smoothly.
- Ensure that organizational policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place, adhered to, and regularly reviewed for effectiveness.
- Work with the Director of Finance to ensure transparency and accuracy in all financial reporting.
- Direct the use of capital and operating funds and identify needs for facilities, equipment, and management.
- Ensure the timely preparation of the budget in consultation with the board treasurer, Director of Finance, and senior staff.
- Review all business contracts and agreements, ensuring accurate preparation and execution.
- Evaluate technology needs and collaborate with staff to find the best systems to support MRT.
Marketing, Community Engagement, and Audience Development
- Promote the highest levels of customer service and community engagement.
- Engage with the marketing staff to maximize earned income from programs and ancillary activities.
- Guide marketing, branding, and public relations to achieve earned income goals while enhancing MRT’s brand awareness.
- Develop partnership agreements with community organizations and key media.
Board and Governance
- Monitor and report to the board on the performance of the budget and all financial matters.
- Communicate and establish a strong working relationship with the board, encouraging all members to be active participants across the organization.
- Assist in board prospect identification, cultivation, and recruitment and utilize board committees as an opportunity for future board member development.
- Utilize industry standards and engage board members to implement best practices and structures.
- Provide support to best employ the talents and resources of the board and work closely with board members to ensure strong fiscal health and effective governance.
Traits and Characteristics
The ED will be a dynamic, people-oriented leader who sees the big picture and values frequent interaction with internal and external stakeholders. This individual will be versatile and able to rapidly adapt to changing priorities while maintaining a positive and friendly demeanor. With an ongoing commitment to learning, the successful candidate will inspire the development of a long-term vision with achievable goals and a practical, executable strategy. The selected individual will bring energy, tenacity, passion for arts and culture, and a can-do attitude.
Other key competencies include the following:
- Customer Focus– Commits to customer satisfaction with a high value on multiple stakeholder needs, anticipates challenges, and develops appropriate solutions.
- Planning and Organizing – Works within established time frames and ascertains top priorities for optimum productivity with procedures, processes, and systems that result in order, accuracy, and efficiency.
- Goal Achievement– Establishes goals that are relevant and attainable and initiates activity without delay.
- Personal Accountability – Accepts responsibility for the consequences of actions and maintains personal commitment to objectives regardless of the success or failure of those personal decisions.
Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred, plus a minimum of five to seven years in increasing responsibility in a senior management role. Expertise in operations, strategic fundraising, and financial management is required. A successful track record in best practices within the nonprofit field and a high level of leadership experience is expected. The successful candidate should have a passion for the arts with an emphasis on theatre as well as enthusiasm for producing new work.
Compensation and Benefits
MRT provides competitive salary and benefits, including medical insurance (group health and flexible spending/health saving account options), dental insurance, paid time off, non-contributory 403(b) retirement plan, and the quality of life that New England offers.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a letter and resume (electronic submissions preferred) with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments to:
Ms. Jenna Deja
Vice President, Arts Consulting Group
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227
Fax (888) 284.6651
MRT provides equal employment opportunities for all persons regardless of race, color,
national origin, creed, religion, gender, age, genetic information, disability, sexual orientation,
veteran’s status, or political affiliation, except where religion, gender, or age are
bona fide job related employment requirements.