Arts Consulting Seeks Executive Director for Silkroad

April 30, 2019 – Boston-based executive search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) has been enlisted to find an executive director for Silkroad, an arts and musical collective created by famed cellist Yo Yo Ma. President Bruce D. Thibodeau is leading the assignment.

Silkroad’s executive director will be charged with leading the non-profit’s local, national and international strategic direction and ensure programmatic integration, artistic and social impact, financial resourcing, and administrative effectiveness, said ACG. Reporting to and serving as an ex-officio member of the board of directors, the individual will be expected to clearly articulate an organizational strategy, identify and take advantage of new opportunities, and deliver results that support vibrancy and sustainability.

The executive director will develop and manage productive relationships with diverse constituencies of artists, partner organizations, board members and funders, said the search firm. The new leader must also convey complex stories in understandable language to internal and external stakeholders, both in person and through media technology.

Strategic Imperatives

Among the key responsibilities of the role, Silkroad’s next executive director must realize a short-term strategic direction and define a long-term strategy that integrates artistic programs, collaborations and educational activities in synergy with Silkroad’s mission, vision and values, said ACG. The individual is also expected to partner with the organization’s co-artistic directors to create effective relationships with artists and strategic partners that ensure radical cultural collaborations, curiosity and listening. He or she must also assess complex and imaginative ideas, balance competing yet complementary interests, and prioritize strategic initiatives into specific and measurable actions.

The executive director serves as Silkroad’s public voice in the media, at educational institutions, during conferences and elsewhere in advancing the organization’s position as a catalyst for change. He or she must also identify, cultivate and maximize earned revenues through expanded programs and partnerships. It is also important for the leader to inspire philanthropic support as an investment in creativity and global cultural understanding.

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The role requires leadership and flexibility, which involves the capacity to develop, set and pursue strategic initiatives while adapting to societal changes and embracing a diverse range of opportunities, said ACG. Collaboration and accountability; diplomacy and teamwork; and planning, organizing and prioritizing are also essential.


A bachelor’s degree is required for the role and an advanced degree with at least 10 years of senior management experience in the arts, higher education or social purpose organizations are preferred, said ACG. Exemplary verbal and written communication skills, demonstrable experience growing philanthropic and earned revenues, and a track record of collectively working with a variety of stakeholders are also necessary. Qualified candidates must have the ability to travel internationally on a regular basis. Multiple language capabilities and non-profit governance expertise are welcomed as well.

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Silkroad was conceived in 1998 by Yo Yo Ma, who found inspiration in the historical Silk Road as a model for productive cultural collaboration—the exchange of ideas and traditions at the edges where one culture meets another. Silkroad has been in residence at and in a collaborative agreement with Harvard University for the past five years. The organization provides one yearly concert, hosts interns and engages in classes that create partnerships with professors and schools, including the Harvard Business School where Silkroad is a case study taught to all first year MBA students. Silkroad is governed by a 17-member internationally recognized board of directors and has a full-time staff of six employees. Co-Artistic directors since 2017, Jeffrey Beecher, Nicholas Cords and Shane Shanahan guide a large roster of 55 multifaceted performing and teaching artists who are supported by numerous production-related consultants and other freelance artists. Silkroad has $4.7 million in budgeted revenues, evenly divided between programming residencies and contributions, in the 2019 fiscal year.

Arts Consulting Group provides interim management, executive search, revenue enhancement consulting, facilities & program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. It 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, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Tampa, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Dr. 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. He 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.

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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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