November 11, 2021 – Founded in 1970, Milwaukee Ballet has grown to become the leading ballet company in Wisconsin. The organization recently called in Boston-based search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) to find a new executive director. President Bruce D. Thibodeau and vice president Geoff Chang are leading the assignment.
Reporting to and collaborating with the board of directors in a shared leadership model with the artistic director, the executive director will provide strategic and financial expertise to Milwaukee Ballet, MBII and MBSA. Focused on advancing its mission, vision, and values, the search firm says that this individual will oversee all of the company’s business functions, guiding the organization into its next phase of growth. With a particular focus on raising contributed revenue and increasing earned income, the executive director will engage the board and senior management team to ensure equity, diversity, inclusion, and access initiatives are at the center of all decisions. As an active spokesperson for the organization within the local and national community, the executive director and artistic director will work in tandem to develop partnerships with other arts and civic institutions, as well as cultivate relationships with funders and other philanthropic supporters. This leader must exemplify and facilitate a culture where everyone feels valued, respected and supported.
Arts Consulting Group notes that the executive director must be a focused and decisive leader with the ability to work collaboratively with people from all parts of the organization and community. Guided by an open-minded and empathetic approach, the executive director will be expected to exhibit transparent communication and possess a welcoming demeanor. Valuing different perspectives and approaches to problem solving, the executive director will have the ability to relate to people from all backgrounds. As a champion for equity, diversity, inclusion and access, the executive director will have a passion for the performing arts and be eager to ensure that performances and training programs are accessible to all.
The successful candidate must have at least five to seven years of progressive senior management experience that includes solid financial management and expertise in building and strengthening strategic partnerships, according to the search firm. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is required and a master’s degree in arts administration, non-profit management, business or a related field is preferred. Active participation in the arts community, a track record of non-profit fundraising success, and experience guiding strategic plan development and implementation are ideal. Exceptional verbal and written communication skills, as well as public speaking experience, are expected.
Milwaukee Ballet’s mission is to transform lives and connect communities through inspiring dance, community engagement, education and training. The company of 25 dancers offers performances each season at the 2,200-seat Marcus Performing Arts Center and the historic 1,300-seat Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee. Milwaukee Ballet is governed by a 27-member board of directors, comprised of business and community leaders from across the city and led by board chair and president Jan Pirozzolo-Mellowes. There are 31 artistic and administrative staff members in a variety of areas that support the organizational mission, vision, and values. For the fiscal year ending July 2022, total operating revenue is expected to be $7 million, with about $4 million from performance, school and other income, as well as $2.7 million from contributions and grants.
Arts and Culture Recruiters
Arts Consulting Group provides interim management, executive search, revenue enhancement consulting, facilities and program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. The firm has identified senior-level leaders for the Long Beach Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Chicago Opera, Stockton Symphony Association and Portland Baroque Orchestra, among others. The firm has offices in Boston; Calgary; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Halifax; Los Angeles; Nashville, TN; New York; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Tampa, FL; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.
Mr. Thibodeau founded ACG in 1997 and has been part of numerous projects in all practice areas to grow institutional sustainability, advance the arts and culture sector, and enhance communities served by the industry. Dr. Thibodeau has guided hundreds of non-profit, university and government clients in achieving effective leadership transitions, planning cultural facilities, increasing revenues, developing dynamic institutional brands and messages, crafting strategic plans and business models, and revitalizing board governance practices.
Mr. Chang joined ACG in 2020, bringing a rich background of experience within the arts and culture industries, specifically within the dance sector. Mr. Chang most recently served as general manager at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, New York, where he produced performances at many of the world’s leading cultural venues and arts festivals.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media