Artistic Director- Oregon Ballet Theatre
Arts Consulting Group
Portland, OR 97239
Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) is the largest professional ballet company in Oregon, employing nearly 200 people and attracting artists from around the globe with its reputation for excellence. OBT’s mission is to share its passion for the expressive power of ballet, inspire an enduring appreciation of dance, and connect in meaningful ways to its community through excellence in performance, training, and educational programs. With a solid track record from the past, a strong current financial position, and a swiftly changing community committed to creativity and equity, OBT is looking to pursue a period of active transformation and advancement.
The company is rooted in the traditions of classical ballet, with a repertoire that ranges from the great classics to premieres from some of the most exciting choreographic voices in the field today. OBT seeks to inspire beauty and excellence in the hearts and minds of Oregonians through the creation and preservation of the highest quality classical and contemporary ballet performances. The upcoming 2022-2023 season includes Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Yuri Possokhov’s Firebird, Bournonville’s La Sylphide, Christopher Bruce’s Hush, and the OBT premiere of Stanton Welch’s Indigo.
In addition to its main stage season, OBT trains dancers from age four to 80 years old through the professional and recreational classes at the Oregon Ballet Theatre School. Many students have gone on to successful professional careers at companies including the Joffrey, the Dutch National Ballet, and within OBT itself. Students receive training from world-class faculty, with opportunities to perform in fully staged productions at the Keller Auditorium alongside the professional dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre.
Connected to the School, the pre-professional ballet program, OBT2 provides rigorous training and performance experience, facilitating the transition from student to professional dancer in a select group working creatively with the support of OBT School’s expert faculty, guest teachers, stagers, and choreographers.
Looking outside the company, OBT’s Education and Community Engagement program is dedicated to sharing meaningful, high-quality dance experiences with students, families, and communities. In the 2020-2021 academic year, OBT’s education and community engagement programs reached 34,000 individuals and served over 550 classrooms, with more than 50 percent of programming offered to Title I Schools.
Oregon Ballet Theatre is dedicated to the vitality of, and access to, world-class ballet performance and training in the region. The staff, artists, and trustees have committed to the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion. That commitment includes becoming more representative of the entire community. It includes creating a positive workplace culture that respects differences, continued outreach programming that bridges gaps in access, and understanding and engaging diverse and marginalized populations. By considering everything through the lens of equity, OBT aims to be a leader in the field and to ensure the vibrancy and relevance of ballet for years to come.
Currently, Oregon Ballet Theater enjoys financial stability, and seeks to move past previous periods of scarcity and challenge, to reach towards significant and rapid advancement. Despite the setbacks from the pandemic, strong support in recent years have established a comfortable financial position. Now, the organization looks to not only sustain that position but to significantly grow the base of support, investing in advancement, transforming operations, innovating the artistic programs, and elevating OBT’s place both within the local cultural ecology of Portland and within the landscape of professional dance in the nation.
OBT is governed by a 28-member board of directors, led by Chair Allison Lane Lyneham. The organization is currently led by Interim Artistic Director Peter Franc and Interim Executive Director Thomas Bruner, who oversee a administrative and artistic team of 200, including 27 company dancers contracted through the American Guild of Musical Artists for 33 weeks per year. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, reported total revenue was $8.1 million, with approximately $2.2 million from contributions and grants and $5.4 million from program service revenue. Total expenses were approximately $8.1 million. The total budget for fiscal year 2022-23 is $8 million.
Officially incorporated in 1851, and a famed ending point for many travelers of the Oregon Trail, Portland is the largest and most populous city in the State of Oregon. Portland is located on the northern side of the state, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, just across the state border from Vancouver, Washington. Portland has a population of over 650,000 people, with almost half of the state’s population residing in the Portland metropolitan area. The Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuyas, Molalla, and many other tribes.
Portland is best known for being a sustainable, bike-friendly city with easy access to nature and over 162 miles of bike lines and hiking trails. Portland’s “Bridgetown” layout is also unique, with 12 bridges entirely within city limits, six city quadrants, and more than 90 formally recognized neighborhoods. This diversity of community lends the region to develop unique styles and experiences throughout the area with freedom for individuals to find their own place within Portland’s quirky culture.
Technology is a major industry in Portland, with more than 1,200 technology companies based in the city, notably led by Intel, which is one of the largest employers. Other major industries include banking (anchored by U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo) and sportswear (with Adidas and Columbia based in Portland and Nike in nearby Beaverton). Even with the recession driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, Portland’s total income grew by over seven percent in 2021. This matches Portland’s population growth, growing faster than any other cities in Oregon in 2021.
Portland has the amenities of a major city, such as an international airport, an efficient public transit system, major league sports teams, and many museums and art galleries, in addition to the charms of a small city, such as plentiful arts and crafts fairs, independent bookstores, and local traditions like the annual Rose Festival Parade and the World Naked Bike Ride. Portland’s abundant rainfall has encouraged a culture that simultaneously values the joys of outdoor beauty and the investment in indoor activities throughout the year, making Portland an exciting community for arts organizations and cultural activity of all kinds. Portland’s culture of individuality, creativity, and experimentation fuels a calendar is packed year-round with events, live music, and performances, as well as a culture of innovation in design and craft ranging from sneakers to doughnuts.
Every year, Portland hosts a never-ending flow of cultural festivals, ranging from the PDX Jazz Festival to the Northwest Black Comedy Festival to ValenTango, the continent’s largest and longest-running tango festival. Portland hosts an established and vibrant collective of arts organizations, including the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and over 100 theater companies. Along with Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland’s expansive dance scene includes White Bird, Northwest Dance Project, BodyVox, AWOL Dance Collective, New Expressive Works, and others.
Sources: travelportland.com; portlandoregon.gov; datausa.io; oregoneconomicanalysis.com
The Artistic Director (AD) at OBT will work in a shared leadership model with the Executive Director (ED) to direct and advance all elements of the organization’s mission, strategy, programming, and operations. Reporting to the Board of Trustees together, the AD and ED lead the entire team of employees and artists, serve as the public face of the organization, and marshal the voices and support of OBT’s internal and external stakeholders towards a shared vision for transformation. Together, the Directors will build an engine of strategic change for programming, management operations, fundraising, and community engagement that propels OBT into a period of vitality, sustainability, and lasting impact.
While strongly collaborating with the ED, the Artistic Director carries primary responsibility for all artistic management functions of the company and school, establishing the artistic vision, preparing a company season and repertoire, and engaging with a diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds. The Artistic Director will support and care for both the artistic vision and artists of the company while ensuring fiscal sustainability and effective collaboration across departments. The AD will have imagination, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an ability to adapt quickly to change. This highly-polished individual will be a strategic thinker and a self-starter with excellent written and oral communication, project management and supervision skills, and a demonstrated passion for the mission.
Direct reports include the Ballet Master, Company Manager, Wellness Coordinator, and Production Director. The Artistic Director also participates with the Executive Director in the direct supervision of the OBT School Director, Marketing Director, and Director of Education and Community Engagement. Otherwise, the AD supports the ED in their supervision of the remaining managerial and administrative staff.
Roles and Responsibilities
Artistic Leadership and Programming
- Conceive, plan, and develop a recognizable artistic identity and clear, compelling artistic vision for OBT; and translate that vision into a repertoire, delivering an outstanding product that achieves mission and operating goals while establishing a unique artistic profile for the company.
- Ensure recruitment and retention of a happy and high functioning artistic team by cultivating an environment of positivity and trust, supporting robust human resource policies and practices, and participating in labor relations with integrity and care.
- Inspire, support, and develop OBT’s company of dancers, advocating for their best interests and honoring union agreements, while inviting their feedback and respecting their individuality and unique talents.
- Tend to the company and staff team by providing for the hiring, developing, and managing of all artistic, production and support staff including both internal hires and contract workers such as choreographers, designers, technical staff, costume shop, and other artists.
- Together with the ED, oversee The Oregon Ballet School, supervising the Director in their leadership of school personnel and policies and, within board approved parameters, development of curriculum, standards, and procedures for the school.
- Maintain a visible, consistent, and welcomed presence in the studio by directing, teaching, and supervising classes and rehearsals.
- Hire OBT2 director and dancers and selects repertoire that ranges from the classics to premieres, while diversifying the range of choreographers, including more works by women and artists of color.
- Support the Marketing and Communications team by providing artistic input for marketing materials and images that represent OBT’s artistic work and brand.
- Together with the ED, oversee Education and Community Engagement programs, supporting the continued growth of in school programs and community participation throughout the region.
Organizational Leadership and Collaboration, and Board Relations
- Partner with the ED to facilitate development of a widely shared vision and strategic plan for advancement of the mission, elevation of the base of support, and broadening of OBT’s presence in the community and sector.
- Spearhead the implementation of OBT’s artistic programs and collaborate with board and staff to ensure that the mission is advanced by the artistic and community-facing programming, aligned with organizational priorities, and fulfilling a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in every facet of the organization.
- Partner with the Board, guiding and supporting board members individually and collectively in their pursuit for better and more inclusive governance, strategy, ambassadorship, and accountability on the board and otherwise for OBT.
- Build strong relationships between the Company, School, and OBT2, and by providing pre-professionals with performance opportunities, providing master classes, offering guidance, and being an approachable and visible presence for students and parents.
- Together with the ED, consistently acknowledge, support, and uplift the work of OBT staff by maintaining frequent communication across all departments of the organization, soliciting feedback on ways to improve workplace culture, and modeling communication and behavior that exemplifies OBT’s Code of Conduct.
Community Engagement and External Relations
- Act as a visible and inspiring spokesperson and advocate for OBT, engaging with a broad swath of the community, including funders, donors, sponsors, civic leaders, community partners, subscribers, and audience members, as well as private organizations regionally, nationally, and internationally.
- Partner with the ED and development department in fundraising efforts as well as developing other resources necessary to support OBT’s mission, identifying and developing additional earned and contributed fundraising opportunities.
- Partner with the ED, Development Director, and development department to create and pursue contributed revenue goals, including donor campaigns, major gifts, sponsorships, fundraising events, grants, and other development efforts that increase the number of supporters and depth of support.
- Build local, regional, and national awareness of OBT and strengthen its brand and reputation with artists, media, and funders by participating in press interviews and other media appearances, cultivating strong professional and artistic relationships outside the region, and collaborating with local arts organizations across creative disciplines to develop new and mutually beneficial strategic partnerships.
Traits and Characteristics
The AD will be an be an innovative, inspiring, and charismatic leader who will communicate with humility, empathy, and appreciation while serving as a representative and spokesperson of the organization. A creative, kind, passionate, and collaborative visionary, this individual will strive for artistic excellence alongside a dedication to the well-being of the dancers and a commitment to nurturing a positive and transparent workplace culture throughout all parts of the organization.
They will bring a familiarity and/or curiosity for the unique regional culture and communities of the Pacific Northwest, and they will have a comfort and ambition for fundraising and other forms of relationship building and advancement. The ideal leader will know how to partner effectively in a co-leadership model that involves working together seamlessly in tandem both internally and externally with a peer and equal executive leader. The Artistic Director will champion and advance the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all artistic decisions.
Other key competencies of the role include:
- Diplomacy and Personal Accountability – The disposition to handle difficult or sensitive issues effectively and tactfully while being answerable for personal actions, and the disposition to quickly recover from adversity.
- Leadership – The aptitude to organize and influence people to believe in a vision while creating a sense of purpose and direction.
- Teamwork and Project Management – The capacity to cooperate with others to meet objectives and while identifying and overseeing all resources, tasks, systems, and people to obtain results.
- Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork – The ability to effectively communicate, build rapport, and relate well to all kinds of people and the capacity to cooperate with others to meet objectives.
- Project Management and Time and Priority Management – The dexterity to identify and oversee all resources, tasks, systems, and people to obtain results while prioritizing and completing tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames.
- Flexibility and Negotiation – The dexterity to readily modify, respond, and adapt to change with minimal resistance while listening to many points of view and facilitating agreements between two or more parties.
Oregon Ballet Theatre does not require specific education credentials or a set number of years of experience for an AD. Qualified candidates should have experience and demonstrable skills in artistic leadership, budgeting and expense management, programming and production, team management, relationship building, and interacting with stakeholders including donors, audience-members, media, and other influencers. The successful candidate may or may not be an active choreographer but should possess substantial training in classical ballet and contemporary dance as well as wide-ranging connections within the dance field nationally and internationally. Candidates should have experience working in a leadership role within a dance company and successful experience as a teaching artist. They must have an ability to inspire dancers to perform at their highest level, while maintaining a culture of deep respect and collaboration. Strong public speaking skills, and a commitment to dance education and community engagement are expected.
Compensation and Benefits
Oregon Ballet Theatre offers a competitive compensation package with a salary range between $140,000 to $170,000. The benefits package includes full benefits, including employer-paid health and life insurance and 23 days off annually.