May 14, 2018 – Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven has chosen Arts Consulting Group (ACG) to find its next artistic director. The previous leader, Gordon Edelstein, was fired in January after accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Josh Borenstein, the group’s managing director, has taken on the artistic director responsibilities in the interim. The search is expected to be completed by early next year.
“The ACG team is thrilled and honored to be working with Long Wharf Theatre at this critical moment in the theatre industry,” said Bruce D. Thibodeau, president of ACG. “Embracing non-traditional, open, and multi-faceted approaches to executive search that are embedded in inclusion, diversity, equity and access creates new opportunities for both the next generation of leaders and the communities their organizations serve.”
ACG rose to the top of the eight firms that sought the assignment.
Transition Team Formed
In the wake of Mr. Edelstein’s dismissal, Long Wharf Theatre formed a transition team of trustees and staff to reevaluate the organization’s direction and structure. Among its recommendations, the committee asked that the next artistic director be more collaborative in tone and nature and reside in the New Haven area.
Subsequently, a search committee was created to move forward with the transition committee’s recommendations.
“There is a clear and refreshing movement across the theatre world that is calling for a new air and way of doing things,” said Laura Pappano, chair of Long Wharf board of trustees. “It is no longer about one person’s vision ending up on stage. Rather, we are now in the collective creativity business. We need to consider how multiple venues – classrooms, libraries, lobbies, community rooms, cabarets and stages – show off what we do, bring people together and challenge them to be their best selves.”
“All of us on the committee feel that ACG has the tools, mindset, and approach that give us the best chance of finding an artistic director of great imagination, talent, and leadership,” said Ms. Pappano.
Seeking Great Leaders
Candidates for the role must have more than a strong resume. “Top executive search firms today recognize the importance of minimizing unconscious hiring bias, using gender neutral language, and balancing qualitative and quantitative data to identify, cultivate, and recruit those who have the capacity to be great leaders,” said Dr. Thibodeau.
Alexander Whitehead Places Artistic Director
Theatrical, film and music organizations have been turning to executive search firms in recent months to find new leaders. Among them, Alexander Whitehead Executive Search placed Ashlie Corcoran as the new artistic director at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theater Company.
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.
Finding Artistic Directors
Hunt Scanlon Media has reported on a number of search firms finding artistic directors for their non-profit clients. Here’s a look at some recently completed searches:
DHR International recently placed David Binder as the artistic director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). He succeeds long-time executive producer Joseph V. Melillo, who will step down at the end of the year. James Abruzzo, managing partner of DHR’s global non-profit recruiting practice, led the search.
“The Brooklyn Academy of Music is the major presenter of the greatest contemporary artists from around the world – therefore, we needed someone who understood the global landscape,” said Mr. Abruzzo. “Also, BAM has a commitment to its local community, so someone who understands the complexities of the changing cultural landscape of Brooklyn was important.”
Following an extensive national search, Daniel Phoenix Singh, a dancer and arts leader, has been selected to lead New Spire Arts in Frederick, MD. The search was led by Catherine French Group, a specialist in the performing arts sector located in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Singh “is excited to be working with New Spire Arts and will be announcing the inaugural 2018-2019 performing season in spring 2018,” said the organization in a statement. In his new role, Mr. Singh will lead a $1 million capital campaign that is already underway for the completion of New Spire Stages, a new performing arts center. He will also serve as chief fundraising officer and is expected to build on the momentum provided by the initial support from the Ausherman Family Foundation.
Mr. Singh is currently the artistic director and president of Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company.
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