Wexner Center Director
Columbus, OH 43210
The Wexner Center for the Arts (“The Wex”) is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary laboratory for the exploration and advancement of global contemporary art and culture. At its core, the Center seeks to inspire cultural curiosity and fuel the creative expression of our time. Upon its opening in November 1989 on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, the Wexner Center attracted critical acclaim for Peter Eisenman’s bold architectural design. Since then, it has drawn equivalent respect and admiration for the caliber and rigor of its innovative artistic and educational programs.
Through exhibitions, screenings, performances, artist residencies, and educational initiatives for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, the Wexner Center acts as a forum where established and emerging artists can test ideas and where diverse audiences can participate in cultural experiences that reflect the complexity, creative dynamism, and profound inter‐connectedness of contemporary life. Presenting hundreds of programs each year – up to seven to 10 major exhibitions; 200 films; 80 dance, theatre, and music performances; hundreds of educational programs – which together bring 50 visiting artists from around the world, the Wexner Center pre-COVID annually reached 150,000+ visitors on‐site, almost 200,000 active website users, and 86,000+ followers on social media platforms.
The Wexner Center for the Arts has an annual operating budget of approximately $10 million, an incredibly dedicated team of 70 full-time staff, and roughly 150 students, part-time staff, security officers, and volunteers. The Director of the Center enjoys a uniquely supportive relationship with the Wexner Center Foundation and its Board of Trustees while also reporting to the Provost of the University. The Foundation, an independent nonprofit University affiliate established solely for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Wexner Center for the Arts, serves a crucial strategic advisory and fundraising function on behalf of the Center. The Foundation’s Trustees include independent donors, members of the Wexner family, and University leadership. Funding for the Center comes from multiple sources including the Foundation, the University, private donors, and earned revenue.
For more information, please visit https://wexarts.org/.
The Director is the driver of the Wexner Center’s creative vision and oversees all aspects of the Center’s programmatic development, operations, and fundraising. They will build upon and evolve the Center’s reputation as a formidable force in advancing the contemporary art field. Critical to the success of this individual will be the ability, in partnership with the curatorial team, to champion the breadth of artistic endeavors and partner with artists, creative producers, and peer institutions productively and effectively – nationally and internationally – to develop innovative and compelling programming in diverse arenas and further the Center’s identity as a distinct and important cultural destination.
To this end, the Director will serve as the organization’s primary advocate and ambassador locally, nationally, and internationally. They will continue to raise the Center’s profile by articulating its vision and building key partnerships with leading figures and institutions across the field of visual and performing arts, film, video, architecture, design, arts education, and social/cultural activism.
Equally important, the Director will lead the Center’s team in creating opportunities for campus and community engagement including working closely with local artists, OSU’s talent and faculty, academic departments, research centers, and student organizations as well as local groups to develop new approaches to cultural production, presentation, interpretation, and experience. A current leadership shift across the arts at OSU portends a dynamic new era in which the Wexner Center will be a welcome critical player.
The Director will shape the internal organizational structure and resource allocation to support the Center’s mission and ensure that its strategic and programmatic objectives are fully articulated and effectively pursued. The Director has overall responsibility for securing and strengthening the Center’s brand while overseeing all aspects of its operations – from curatorial and educational programming to advancement (creative services, marketing, development) to administrative functions (finance, HR, IT, visitor experiences, and facilities and tech services). They will advance and ground diversity, equity, and inclusion across the Center’s staff, programs, audience, collaborations, and Board. Additionally, the Director will approach the financial oversight of the Center with vigilance, integrity, and balance, exerting an even-handed and reasoned approach to budgetary decision-making and in full transparency and collaboration with the Wexner Center Foundation Board of Trustees and the University.
The Director will build a productive working relationship with the Wexner Center Foundation Board, of which they are a voting member, with a focus on formulating a strategic direction for the institution and growing and diversifying its base of private support. Additionally, they will play an active role in suggesting and recruiting new Trustees to the Board and in assuring the integrity of Board governance. The Director also ensures fluid, transparent communication with and between the Foundation Board and OSU leadership, with a particular focus on ensuring alignment on key initiatives.
This will become an even more critical aspect of the Director’s role as the University reimagines and invests in its Arts District, which the Wexner Center anchors. The University anticipates significant capital investment in the arts as part of its master plan to address the primary University gateway at 15th and High Streets. The Wexner’s Director will be an important thought leader in creating opportunities for the future of the Center as a key stakeholder of this district.
The next Director of the Wexner Center for the Arts will have demonstrated an elevated level of achievement in contemporary arts leadership, management of organizations, and interpersonal relations. They will be an individual of significant intellect, creative vision, strategic acumen, and entrepreneurial drive capable of building the next phase of the Center’s exhibitions and programs.
The successful candidate will bring a passion for the Center’s mission including an authentic interest in and commitment to expanding audiences for contemporary culture and exploring unconventional approaches to cultural production and distribution. They will have deep and broad connections in the cultural arena and will be able to call upon a truly global network to further the Center’s mission. They will have the credibility and confidence to convene high-level dialogue around contemporary art and culture, engage intellectually across a wide range of disciplines, and inspire others to see and appreciate the points of intersection between contemporary creative expression and any number of other disciplines.
This individual will have demonstrated success developing and implementing a compelling strategic and programmatic vision for an organization. They will evidence an ability to guide, shape, and continually enhance the Center’s organizational identity including its vision, mission, values, culture, and strategy while protecting the integrity of its institutional foundations. The next Director will bring a proven understanding of and commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging with an ability to manifest these values in programs, operations, and institutional culture.
The ideal candidate will have previous experience either running an arts organization or heading a large department or program within an institution. They will have demonstrated success managing teams and resources and as a fundraiser, including being a careful steward of organizational assets and providing effective financial oversight for budgets.
The successful candidate will have demonstrated an ability to lead, collaborate with, and motivate a diverse community of supporters and stakeholders including donors, Board members, civic leaders, campus partners, staff, students, and volunteers. Further, this individual will have demonstrated success in building ideological and financial support for all major initiatives while also skillfully balancing and aligning the needs of multiple interests internally and externally.
In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, the following is highlighted.
Credibility in the Field and Passion for the Mission: The ideal candidate will exhibit a thorough knowledge of and passion for contemporary art, along with a record of well-respected intellectual achievement in their field. They will possess the intellectual curiosity and rigor to interact effectively with artists, faculty, students, and peers as well as an ecumenical approach to working with diverse genres of art. Ideally, this individual has demonstrated an ability to build productive and significant relationships with emerging and established artists across multiple disciplines.
Strategic Thinking and Vision: The successful candidate will have a track record as an entrepreneurial and creative thinker with the ability to develop and implement a creative and strategic vision. This person will demonstrate an expansive knowledge of the key global cultural trends influencing the Center’s mission as well as the top thought leaders and organizations with whom the Center may want to collaborate. They will be able to rely on experience and an extensive global professional network to guide and contribute to the continued realization of the Center’s mission.
Resource and Partnership Development: The successful candidate will have experience building an institution’s funding base including from individual, corporate, and foundation funders as well as through fresh pathways for earned income. Further, they will demonstrate an ability to engage both current and prospective funders locally, nationally, and globally. This individual will have proven success forging and maintaining mutually productive relationships with peer institutions and partners to further the Center’s impact and reputation.
Communicating, Influencing, and Building Relationships: The successful candidate will exhibit a consensus-seeking but decisive approach to problem solving that enables them to effectively build support for the Center’s initiatives. This individual will be a truly skilled internal and external communicator with an ability to engage effectively with a diverse range of partners and audiences. They must be politically astute, socially agile, approachable, and grounded.
Management of Teams and Resources: The successful candidate will have demonstrated success enabling a team to translate organizational strategy into clear goals and objectives as well as aligning key constituents around key institutional decisions. They will bring experience retaining, mentoring, and motivating top talent. This individual will have a reputation for fostering an organizational culture of collaboration and mutual respect along with a healthy expectation of high performance and productivity. Lastly, they will have proven an ability to carefully steward organizational assets, balance budgets, and make smart decisions with limited financial resources.
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
For 148 years, The Ohio State University’s campus in Columbus has been the stage for academic achievement and a laboratory for innovation. The Ohio State University is a world-class public, urban, land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant research university with very high research activity, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation, which also identifies Ohio State as an engaged university. As Ohio’s flagship, it is the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state. More than 75,000 students are enrolled at Ohio State, which includes: the University’s main Columbus campus (61,369 students); its regional campuses at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark, where a premium is placed on access; and its Wooster campus – home to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and the Agricultural Technical Institute. Ohio State has 15 colleges that offer more than 200 undergraduate majors and some 270 master’s, doctoral, and professional programs.
As Ohio’s best and one of the nation’s top-20 public universities, the University is recognized for its top-rated academic medical center and premier cancer hospital and research center. Its 3,000 faculty include: members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Sloan, Guggenheim, and Fulbright scholars; and distinguished fellows from numerous learned societies.
Ohio State is a member of the Association of American Universities and is the only public university in Ohio to which the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has given both its highest overall classification of Research University Very High and highest undergraduate admissions classification of High Undergraduate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has also twice honored Ohio State with its Community Engagement Classification, most recently in 2015.
In February 2022, Ohio State said it was on track to meet its $650 million fundraising goal for the fiscal year – its best year in fundraising history.
Columbus is one of the nation’s fastest-growing large metropolitan areas and the fastest in the Midwest and is celebrated as one of the strongest metros in the country for job creation. With its highly diversified base of companies, the Columbus area is on the leading edge with advanced industries such as technology, retail and e-commerce, cybersecurity, finance, and more. Some of the region’s largest employers include OSU, JP Morgan Chase, Nationwide, Honda of America Manufacturing, L Brands, Cardinal Health, Huntington Bancshares, Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon, and soon to include a major footprint by Intel. Additional information about Columbus’ current pace of change can be provided.