VP of Artistic Operations & General Manager- Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
Arts Consulting Group
Charlotte, NC 28202
One of the premier music organizations in the southeastern United States and the oldest operating symphony orchestra in the Carolinas, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO) connects with more than 100,000 music lovers each year through its lively season of concerts, broadcasts, community events, and robust educational programs. The CSO has demonstrated a commitment to its mission of uplifting, entertaining, and educating the diverse communities of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond through exceptional music experiences. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2022, the CSO continues its vision to reach out through the transformative power of live music as a civic leader, reflecting and uniting the region.
The CSO employs a professional full-time orchestra of 62 musicians and three conductors, supports three youth orchestras, and offers an extensive array of educational and audience engagement programs. The CSO performs in a variety of venues in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties in the Charlotte region, principally at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Belk Theater (1900 seats), the Levine Center for the Arts’ Knight Theater (1100 seats), and Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall. Its extensive community engagement activities take the CSO’s music to a variety of churches, breweries, community centers, schools, and senior care centers throughout the region.
The 2022-2023 season will feature 11 guest conductors, including the CSO debut of Erina Yashima leading Beethoven’s rarely performed Triple Concerto and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, and Cleveland Orchestra’s Vinay Parameswaran conducting Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations and William Grant Still’s Poem for Orchestra. The Sandra and Leon Levine Pops series will explore a wide range of musical genres, highlighted by 007: The Best of James Bond, a celebration of five decades of music for the iconic spy films. Legendary film scores come to life in the CSO’s popular Movie Series, a true “surround-sound” live experience. Additionally, the CSO is opening the 2022 Charlotte International Arts Festival with a newly commissioned production of David Bowie’s final album, titled Blackstar Symphony. The CSO is one of 25 orchestras in the United States to receive Catalyst Fund grants from the League of American Orchestras to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion within the organization.
The CSO 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, completed in May 2021, focuses on seven essential areas of strategic focus: artistic vitality and growth, education, financial health and sustainability, innovation, organizational culture, public relevance, and audience development. Strategies to advance the CSO’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion are incorporated within each area. This plan serves as a road map for CSO, pointing the orchestra towards an enterprising and resilient future.
The CSO is governed by a 30-member Board of Directors chaired by Linda McFarland Farthing. David Fisk was appointed President & CEO in 2020. For the last 12 years, the artistic leadership of the CSO was under the baton of internationally renowned Music Director Christopher Warren-Green, who has now taken on the titles of Conductor Laureate and Artistic Adviser. Emerging American conductor Christopher James Lees is the Resident Conductor of the CSO and Principal Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, the CSO is reporting total revenue of approximately $11.8 million, with over $6 million in contributions and grants (excluding government or other special assistance related to COVID relief), and just over $3 million in ticket sales and program services. Total expenses in FY22 were approximately $11.3 million.
Present day Charlotte sits on the ancestral lands of the Catawba, Cheraw, Sugeree, Wateree, and Waxhaw Peoples. European colonists chartered the city in 1768 and named it to honor Queen Charlotte, wife of British King George III, and is affectionately known as “The Queen City.” A center of commerce and industry, Charlotte is the most populous city in the State of North Carolina with a population exceeding 875,000 and is the center city of a bi-state metropolitan area of more than 2.5 million people. According to the 2020 United States Census, Charlotte’s diverse and vibrant population is 46.7% Caucasian, 35.5% African American, and 14.6% Latinx.
Charlotte is among the fastest growing communities in the nation, with about 100 people making it their new home every day. The Charlotte Douglas International Airport is ranked 5th worldwide for air traffic and 6th for passenger traffic, with an annual passenger total exceeding 43 million people. The central business district is known as “Uptown.” Residential and commercial development are abounded most notably in the broad South End, just south of Uptown, and in Camp North End. The city has 199 distinct neighborhoods that host multiple cultural and creative events throughout the year as well as a wide range of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Professional sports in Charlotte include the NFL Carolina Panthers, the NBA Charlotte Hornets, the MLS Charlotte FC, MiLB Charlotte Knights, the AHL Charlotte Checkers, and NASCAR racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in the United States and has nine Fortune 500 and 17 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in its metropolitan area. It is home to a wide range of businesses and major financial institutions, including Bank of America, Truist, and the East Coast operations of Wells Fargo. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is the city’s largest public university. The city’s central location is surrounded by many colleges and universities including Davidson College, Queens University of Charlotte, historically black college Johnson C. Smith University, Clemson University, and Duke University. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system is the second largest in the state; its Performing Arts department is home to approximately 350 professional, certified music and theater arts teachers and ranks nationally in the top five arts education programs.
The region is home to many museums, parks, state-of-the-art performing arts centers, and renowned performing arts organizations, including Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Mint Museum, Charlotte Ballet, and Opera Carolina. Charlotte also presents many annual festivals. Private and public support for arts and culture in Charlotte is strong. In 2021, the city increased its annual investment in the arts to $6 million for three years, and Foundation for the Carolinas led a matching fundraising campaign, the Infusion Fund, that raised $23 million from generous private sector donors.
Sources: charlottenc.gov; census.gov; charlotteiscreative.com; charlottesgotalot.com
The Vice President of Artistic Operations and General Manager will provide leadership and oversee the design and implementation of the artistic planning and production for the CSO, guided by the vision and strategies in the 2025 Strategic Plan. Reporting to and working in close partnership with the President and CEO, the Vice President of Artistic Operations will be a member of the senior management team and will work closely with the orchestra’s Music Director. They will lead and mentor an intimate team with five direct reports: Director of Operations, Director of Artistic Planning, Orchestra Personnel Manager, Principal Librarian, and Stage Manager. They will guide the development of the programming calendar, manage the rehearsal, and performance and venue schedule within the guidelines of the musicians’ collective bargaining agreements and other artists’ contracts, while ensuring that the CSO’s artistic vision is imbued in all programming activities. They will be the main staff liaison to the Board for artistic matters. They will cultivate and deepen the organization’s relationships with performing arts venue partners, other arts and cultural organizations, and key community partners.
Role and Responsibilities
Envision the long-term artistic plan for all artistic programming at CSO guided by the vision for artistic vitality & growth of the 2025 Strategic Plan, closely collaborating with the President and CEO and Music Director.
Partner with the President and CEO and the Music Director to develop the annual season, considering repertoire, guest conductors and artists, and special concerts.
Work closely with individual conductors on programs, focusing on the overall artistic vision of the season and with the CSO’s Music Director’s artistic vision for the organization.
Oversee and identify potential composers to be engaged as Composers-in-Residence, as well as oversee the commissioning of new works.
Ensure that guest artists have a welcoming and fruitful experience at the CSO, making sure they feel connected to the organization and when appropriate, secure their ongoing commitment and return engagement.
Develop and maintain relationships with artists, agents, and other influential music industry representatives to keep abreast of existing and emerging artistic talents and repertoire.
Attend concerts and events frequently to gain additional insight into the performance of the orchestra and guest musicians, sharing perspectives and observations with the President and CEO and Music Director.
Participate actively or collaborate with national organizations such as the League of American Orchestras, the American Federation of Musicians, and the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musicians to stay informed of trends and general activities in the orchestra and performing arts sector.
Management & Operations
Implement strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion to address internal culture, accessibility, recruitment, and retention of artistic and operations personnel, the audience experience, and other areas relevant to the artistic operations of the organization.
Develop and maintain multi-year advance calendars in cooperation with all impacted CSO departments ensuring adherence with provisions of the musicians’ collective bargaining agreement.
Direct a centralized rehearsal and performance schedule, coordinating with orchestra and production teams, as well as communicating plans and schedules to all relevant CSO departments.
Identify creative and problem-solving strategies to maximize the use of orchestra services, alternative revenue streams, and innovative program design to capture new and emerging audiences
Manage the CSO’s relationship with performance venues such as the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Levine Center for the Arts, and others to ensure long-term positive partnerships that enhance the orchestra and audience’s experience in the venue.
Oversee the preparation of and monitor budgets for artistic planning, concert productions, orchestra maintenance, and stage crews.
Supervise orchestra and production staff to ensure the highest professional level of orchestra and chorus programs.
Guide the Manager of Orchestra Personnel on sensitive personnel matters that impact programs and interface with artists.
Provide advice and support to the President and CEO in the CSO’s collective bargaining process with Local 342 of the American Federation of Musicians, ensuring productive negotiations that advance the mission, vision, and goals of the organization, and maintain a harmonious relationship with the musicians and union leaders.
Partnerships & Community Engagement
Strengthen mutually beneficial artistic relationships with current partners such as Charlotte Ballet, Opera Carolina, and the Charlotte Master Chorale, and build and nurture new initiatives and collaborations that grow the CSO’s civic and artistic reputation.
Partner with Vice Presidents of Learning & Community Engagement, Marketing, and Development to develop and implement innovative audience development programs, attain new and diverse audiences, and deepen the organization’s engagement with music educators, students, and other emerging partners.
Serve as staff liaison to the Board of Directors as appropriate, advocating for the artistic profile and decisions of the organization to directors, trustees, volunteers, and civic and community partners.
Maintain a calendar of public speaking engagements and lectures to audience members and volunteer groups to expand the visibility and community connections of the organization.
Traits and Characteristics
The Vice President of Artistic Operations and General Manager will be a collaborative and dedicated leader with strong analytical and problem-solving abilities. A people-oriented leader and persuasive communicator, they will be comfortable interacting with multiple constituencies and easily adapt to differing situations. Resourceful and flexible, they will possess excellent organizational and project management skills. They will efficiently manage their time and focus, thoughtfully prioritizing tasks and resources. They will demonstrate a commitment to advancing the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Other key competencies include:
Leadership and Diplomacy – The sensitivity to tactfully handle complex or ambiguous issues, carefully considering all aspects of a situation, and bring parties together for positive resolutions.
Goal Orientation – The ability to set and attain artistic and organizational goals by developing effective strategies and pursuing opportunities that advance progress towards the goals, with the determination and persistence to overcome obstacles.
Teamwork – The willingness to cooperate with others, showing respect and appreciation for each team member’s perspectives and contributions.
Personal Accountability and Resiliency – The capacity to examine and evaluate personal actions, accept feedback and criticism, and use it as an opportunity to move forward.
An undergraduate degree in music, arts administration, or a related field is expected. A minimum of five to seven years of experience in a senior-level position with a music or performing arts organization is required. Qualified candidates will demonstrate a deep understanding of classical music, awareness of current trends and best practices in orchestra management, and a keen interest in collaborating with musicians, composers, and artists. The successful candidates will have experience leading and supervising a team, working with a professional orchestra, and developing a trust-based relationship with the music director. Strong business acumen and the ability to understand complex financial and negotiated agreements is expected.
Compensation and Benefits
Charlotte Symphony provides a competitive and equitable compensation package with a salary in the range of $100,000 to $130,000, plus benefits.