Odgers Berndtson Seeks Artistic Director for Abbey Theatre

October 20, 2020 – Mark O’Donnell, managing partner of Odgers Berndtson in Ireland, has been retained by the 115-year-old Abbey Theatre in Dublin to find a new artistic director.

The new artistic director will be responsible for the development, articulation, leadership, and realization of the artistic vision of the Abbey Theatre, said Odgers Berndtson. The individual will be charged with delivering “unique, memorable, challenging experiences for audiences, which reflect and nurture Ireland’s artists in all their diversity, by making and presenting the broadest possible range of theatre.”

The incoming leader will also be expected to enhance the Abbey Theatre’s reputation by directing plays and commissioning and initiating artistic projects and programs, which will further the promotion and development of Irish culture, said the search firm. It is essential that the new artistic director lead the artistic vision through development and planning of ambitious multi-annual artistic programs that align with and reflect the values of excellence, inclusiveness, diversity and equality set out in the Abbey Theatre five-year strategy.

Pandemic Challenges

A key part of the role will involve addressing and planning for the artistic challenges associated with COVID-19.

The new artistic director must also lead on the development of artistic activities which have potential to raise grant funding for the theatre and contribute to and support proactively the fundraising and sponsorship initiatives led by the executive director and the development committee, specifically in relation to engaged supporters.

The individual must also provide leadership, in consultation with the wider artistic community, for defining the artistic requirements for the new state-of-the-art theatre.

Candidates should have a flair for creativity and innovation allied to a strong reputation for successfully directing a diverse range of works of theatre, said Odgers Berndtson. In-depth experience and effective artistic leadership capability within the theatre world is essential. Knowledge of theatre, and a network of appropriate contacts within theatre at both national and international levels is also critical.

Leadership Skills  

Prospects for the artistic director role must have demonstrable leadership skills, said the search firm. They should also be capable of inspiring and managing creative experts and specialists allied to skilled presentation and media skills. Outstanding collaborative skills with an ability to create an inclusive environment that inspires people working with and supporting the Abbey Theatre are also required.

Related: Arts Consulting Group Recruits CEO for Association of Performing Arts Professionals

Candidates must further have the ability to balance creative risk with sound financial management linked to an understanding of governance and its importance in the smooth and effective operation of a national cultural institution, said Odgers Berndtson.

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The Abbey Theatre’s mission is to engage imaginatively with all of Irish society through the production of ambitious and courageous theatre, in all its forms. Ireland’s National Theatre is artist-led and audience-focused. For over 115 years, the Abbey Theatre has played a significant role in reflecting Ireland’s evolving cultural, political and social identity. It has done so through the creation and staging of an important literary repertoire which has helped Irish people to understand and communicate what it means to be Irish. This role continues, as the nation’s sense of identity evolves, its population becomes increasingly multicultural, and as a major building project is developed to house the Abbey Theatre for decades to come.

Veteran Recruiters

Odgers Berndtson delivers executive search, leadership assessment and development strategies to organizations globally. The firm’s 250-plus partners cover more than 50 sectors and operate out of 59 offices in 29 countries.

Mr. O’Donnell specializes in high-level executive searches and appointments of senior management appointments from head of function to board level across a range of industries and functions. He is particularly focused on assisting clients in the consumer, financial services, technology, arts and sports sectors. Mr. O’Donnell is considered a leading consultant in the recruitment of all C-suite positions in particular CEO, CFO, HRD, marketing and commercial directors. Additionally, he leads the firm’s assessment practice.

Mr. O’Donnell began his career in financial services working with Global Asset Management in Dublin and Schroders Investment Bank in Australia. Prior to joining Odgers Berndtson, he was a director in the consulting arm of KPMG and subsequently joined the consulting division of Deloitte as director where he focused on strategy, operations and human capital.

Related: Alexander Whitehead Places Artistic Director at Arts Club Theater 

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

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