Full-Time Artistic Director
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ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Job Description
￼Erasing the Distance (ETD) is a nonprofit arts organization based in Chicago that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.
Founded in 2005 by Brighid O’Shaughnessy, ETD has reached over 55,000 audience members. We collect true stories from people whose lives have been impacted by mental health issues and then transcribe and sculpt these stories into monologues, scenes, and full theatrical productions. These stories are then brought to life by professional actors—often seen on such stages as Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Victory Gardens, and Chicago Shakespeare.
Our three primary program areas are:
1) Touring – bringing customized ETD shows to varied audiences in the Chicago area and beyond.
2) Public Productions – ETD stages shows at local theater and non-traditional venues for the general public. Our productions—often world premieres—are presented in partnership with mental health professionals that offer actor training and on-site audience support and information. Every private and public performance is followed by a moderated, interactive dialogue between the cast and audience.
3) Education/Training – offering workshops and training sessions designed to share the organization’s unique process of gathering, transcribing, and staging true stories of people impacted by mental health issues. The workshops and trainings are mostly geared to artists, mental health advocates, and current/future health professionals.
All ETD activities are grounded in the organization’s core values: Compassion, Courageous Communication, Collaboration, Excellence, and Sustainability.
The Artistic Director (AD) is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing the artistic vision and focus of ETD’s programming in conjunction with the Company. The AD works with the Executive Director (ED) and the board of directors to ensure that ETD is guided by its mission and realizes its goals for artistic excellence, mental health awareness and education, financial stability, fundraising, and audience engagement.
Key Organizational Relationships
The Artistic Director reports to the Executive Director. It is a very collaborative relationship, with each position focusing on different and complimentary areas to effectively lead the organization. Though the AD is not supervised by the board of directors s/he has the opportunity to interface regularly and provide meaningful input to assist the ED and board with strategic and financial decision-making.
The AD supervises the Touring Manager and provides guidance and oversight for that program area.
The AD is intimately involved with actors, directors, story collectors, and other artistic associates integral to mounting any of ETD’s public performances, as well as fuller scale productions. S/he promotes an environment that brings out the best in all artists and compassionately takes individual stories to the stage. This includes managing the Facilitator, Director and Story Collection Teams.
The AD identifies and cultivates relationships with mental health agencies and other collaborating agencies to support ETD’s mission. The AD also has a significant role with the public through interaction with audience members during talkbacks and being an enthusiastic advocate for the organization.
Duties and Responsibilities
• Hire, supervise and evaluate the Touring Manager, providing guidance and oversight for
this program area.
• Manage the Facilitator and Director Teams, including the recruitment, training, and
oversight of all facilitators and directors utilized across program areas.
• Hire and supervise additional staff including program coordinators, guest artists, and
speakers for education and training activities.
• Manage ETD’s Artistic Company.
• Manage ETD’s Story Collection Team, alongside a Company Member who serves as team
• Hire and oversee the management of all contractually hired staff engaged in the public
productions (e.g. actors, directors, designers, tech crew, facilitators, etc.) in alignment with
• Develop company standards, policies and guidelines with the ED.
• Produce (or supervise the producing) of each major public offering. In a given year, this
could range from overseeing 4 pop-up performances (company member led for 2-3 nights each); to developing one full scale world premiere production with a longer run (9-12 nights).
• Determine the public production themes, with staff and company member input.
• Curate the material/script for public productions, including any necessary story collection.
• Cast, train, and supervise directors, actors, stage managers, production managers,
playwrights, devisers, and technical crew.
• Confer with Operations Manager to review and finalize artist contracts.
• Secure partnerships with mental health agencies and other collaborating organizations for each production.
• Secure, organize, and train volunteer story collectors for the Story Collection Team
• Determine which stories will be worked on artistically following collection.
• Follow-up and manage the transcription and sculpting process with volunteers in
conjunction with the company member Story Team Leader.
• Insure all stories and scripts are stored and maintained securely and with integrity.
Education and Training
• Assist Touring Manager with the development of workshop proposals and identifying
appropriate teaching artists.
• Potentially lead education and teaching programs secured by the TM, including workshops or multi-session initiatives.
• Review and assist with the creation and sculpting of artistic material for education and training projects.
Mental Health Working Board
• Staff Liaison to the Mental Health Working Board.
• Assist MHWB Chair in creating meeting agendas to ensure key topics are discussed.
• Work with Chair to identify projects and tasks for members to engage in.
• Assist in the ongoing recruitment and retention of MHWB members.
Communications and Marketing
• Provide input and program copy for marketing and PR materials including press releases, e-blasts, ETD’s annual magazine and brochure, sponsorship materials, show/season
announcements, and more.
• Review design materials used to promote programming.
• Serve as ambassador, speaker, and key artistic voice for ETD interactions with the media
including television, radio, and print publications interviews.
• Work with ED on building and maintaining relationships with major foundation and
corporate funders and individual donors.
• Participate personally in the annual appeal to maintain and increase individual donors.
Board of Directors
• Attend board meetings, as appropriate.
• Report on artistic aspects of the organization and programming.
• Assist in new board member orientation regarding ETD programming.
To support the unique mission, Erasing the Distance’s Artistic Director must have the talent and skills necessary to convey and implement the artistic vision of the organization. The AD should also have some knowledge of and passion for mental health issues. Ideally, the AD will have significant experience mobilizing and managing individuals and teams with the ability to do strength-based matching of skills and interests.
Experience with public speaking and facilitating group discussions is necessary. A proven background in producing, curating/creating/visioning documentary theatre projects, and directing is also required.
The AD possesses exceptional communication and listening skills. S/he is a genuine relationship builder and able to connect with diverse populations. S/he embodies the organization’s core values and encourages them in others.
The AD has a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant field and at least 5 years of experience in an artistic leadership role.
The AD must have a laptop, mobile phone, and a car with proof of insurance that can be used for work. This position works primarily from the ETD office, with some flexibility for telecommuting. It also requires travel for off-site meetings with clients and attendance at specific trainings and performances, including some evenings and weekends.
Compensation and Benefits
The AD position is a three-quarter (approximately 30 hours per week), paid salaried position. As ETD grows as an organization this position will likely become full-time. Salary is commensurate with relevant experience and education.
ETD benefits include paid holidays for all major bank holidays (proportionate to regular hours worked), paid vacation and personal/sick time. We currently do not provide any health insurance or retirement benefits.
How to Apply
Please submit a cover letter, resume or CV and artistic statement by Friday, March 25, 2016 to Erasing the Distance at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the address below. Interviews will be scheduled at the end of March and early April, with an anticipated hire date by July 1, 2016.
Erasing the Distance
Human Resources Department
4001 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Suite 503C
Chicago, Illinois 60613
|• Job Title:||Artistic Director|
|• Job Type:||Full-Time Job|
|• Employer:||Erasing the Distance|
|• Location:||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
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