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Barr Foundation

Barr Foundation

Program Officer - Arts & Creativity


Barr Foundation

Committed to investing in human, natural, and creative potential, the Barr Foundation (Barr) serves as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. As stewards, Barr nurtures and enhances vital community assets. As catalysts, Barr cultivates and advances the breakthrough ideas that will shape our collective future.

Barr works in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts and creative expression, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr has grown to become one of the largest private foundations in New England, with assets in excess of $3 billion and a 2022grantmaking budget of nearly $140 million.

A set of core values, defined by Barr’s founding trustees, expresses their beliefs about what constitutes effective philanthropy and guides how Barr carries out its philanthropic mission. Barr is committed to strive for impact, invest in leaders, center racial equity, act with humility, take the long view, embrace risk, and demonstrate curiosity. These core values extend to the workplace culture, where all engage in learning opportunities on diversity, equity, and inclusion; reflect on practices, policies, and grantmaking; and strive to create an environment where everyone is valued and included. Additionally, while each program is guided by distinct priorities and goals, Barr embraces a common set of approaches in all aspects of its work, namely flexibility and nimbleness, a broad range of tools, knowledge and learning, openness and transparency, and active collaboration.

Arts & Creativity Program

The Barr Foundation believes that arts and creativity have the power to connect people from disparate backgrounds, to deepen understanding of a dynamic environment, and to help imagine new, better, different futures. The overarching goal of the Arts & Creativity Program is to elevate the arts and creative expression and to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts. Barr believes that communities become dynamic and thriving when they have access to arts and creative expression that reflect the full range of cultures, traditions, and voices in those communities and that positive change in the arts requires an explicit focus.

Barr pursues its program goals through three strategies:

    1. Advancing the capacity to adapt, take risks, and engage changing audiences in new ways;
    2. Fostering opportunities to connect the arts to other disciplines and sectors; and
    3. Activating public support for the arts.

Across these strategies, Barr applies a systems approach, working to strengthen necessary field infrastructure and focusing its investments in two areas it believes hold power to spur large-scale change—visionary leaders and leading-edge practices. Barr’s grantmaking provides seed, risk, and patient capital alongside a range of support and capacity building. While Barr’s Arts & Creativity Program primarily focuses its grantmaking in Massachusetts, it partners in several national philanthropic initiatives.

The Arts & Creativity team is currently comprised of a Program Director, two Senior Program Officers, and a Program Associate. This position will add to the team as they continue to grow. The team also frequently works with consultants on short- and long-term projects and initiatives.


Home to more than 4.8 million people, the City of Boston and the Greater Boston Area are New England’s economic and cultural hub and the location of Barr’s offices. The region is the ancestral homes of the Massachusett, Pawtucket, Wampanoag, Nipmuck, and others who inhabited the area for centuries before European colonists settled in the area in the late 16th century. The region is recognized for the strength and international reach of its education, health, and technology sectors. Quality of life is anchored by a vibrant arts and cultural sector with world-renowned museums, orchestras, historic sites, regional cultural centers, emerging and experimental performing and visual arts entities, and multi-disciplinary cultural heritage organizations.


Position Summary

The Program Officer – Arts & Creativity (Program Officer) will join during an exciting time of growth for the Arts & Creativity Program, particularly as the team is designing and implementing new projects and initiatives to extend and deepen its focus on racial equity. The Program Officer will support grantmaking across the three strategy areas and coordinate projects for select initiatives, research studies, and communications projects. The Program Officer will focus on how best to understand the primary issues facing the field and developprograms that deliver sustainable outcomes. Other specific areas of focus might include support for individual artists, community media, solidarity economy practices, capacity building, and participatory philanthropic practices. Reporting to the Director of Arts & Creativity, the Program Officer will embrace the belief that arts and creativity are fundamental and necessary for the health of the human spirit and share a sense of urgency to amplify the arts’ role in communities and society today.

Roles and Responsibilities


  • Identify potential grant opportunities with the Director of Arts & Creativity, evaluate new proposals, conduct site visits, and actively assist organizations in improving the quality of proposals and activities.
  • Manage active grants, assess their progress, and analyze and act on financial and programmatic reports.
  • Build relationships with grantees and program cohorts to build community and support long-term collaboration.
  • Assess nonprofits’ health and effectiveness by analyzing financial statements, evaluating the feasibility and strategic value of proposed programs and activities, and assessing management, leadership, and organizational capacity.
  • Draft internal documents and analyses for Barr leadership and trustee consideration of grant proposals.
  • Evaluate grants or grant clusters in support of program strategy reviews in partnership with the Arts & Creativity and Learning & Evaluation teams and external evaluation consultants as appropriate.
  • Share learnings, shape public narratives and generate positive attention for the work, ideas, and voices of Barr’s partners in collaboration with the Communications team to contribute to the fields of nonprofits and philanthropy.
  • Develop and manage consultant engagements as necessary for Arts & Creativity Program strategies.
  • Respond to inquiries to the Arts & Creativity Program, supported by the Program Associate and Arts & Creativity team.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with other Barr program teams as needed.

Planning and Strategy

  • Think strategically, execute strategies as part of a team, define program objectives, evaluate progress, and independently manage projects through a complete lifecycle.
  • Collaborate with the Arts & Creativity team members in developing grantmaking strategies that will have a strong impact in areas important to Barr.
  • Contribute to the assessments and modifications of strategy in response to new knowledge, changes in context, and new perspectives, serving as a thought partner on the Arts & Creativity team.
  • Maintain a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about the current trends, professional practices, and policies pertinent to the program.
  • Assist with developing and tracking program and project budgets.

Community and Field Engagement

  • Develop and cultivate strong working relationships with grantees, outside advisors, experts in the field, public sector partners, and colleagues in philanthropy.
  • Contribute to the team’s knowledge by keeping abreast of current trends, emerging issues, policies, political landscapes, influential leaders, and best practices.
  • Commission papers and program-related reports in collaboration with the Arts & Creativity team that broadly contribute to Barr’s and others’ understanding of new approaches, best practices, and issues relevant to the program’s interests.
  • Organize meetings and convenings of field experts, as appropriate, to share best practices, encourage collaboration, and explore strategies for collective impact.
  • Learn about and provide leadership to the professional field through speaking engagements, writing, and use of social media.
  • Collaborate with Communications team to share resources, research, and amplify grantee work with the goal of advancing field knowledge.
  • Attend community and field events, including conferences and partner events, and travel as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

The Program Officer will be passionate about and committed to the arts and its broader impacts throughout society. This individual will be people-oriented and keenly adept in building rapport with diverse constituencies. A strong communicator, they will build authentic relationships with an array of internal and external stakeholders. With a deep ability to empathize with community challenges and a commitment to supporting the expertise of grantees, partners, and community-based leaders, the Program Officer will be able to analyze and understand complex organizational and community conditions as well as policy, political, and community dynamics. They will also expand learnings on organizational development and systemic change.

Other key competencies include:

  • Diplomacy and Appreciating Others – The capacity to listen to multiple points of view, identify with and care about others, tactfully address sensitive or difficult issues, and facilitate beneficial outcomes.
  • Teamwork – The dexterity to work towards agreement and participatory decision making, recognizing and appreciating team members’ individual perspectives and effectively collaborating to maximize team effectiveness.
  • Personal and Professional Accountability – The capacity to self-evaluate by utilizing and analyzing feedback and data and taking responsibility for actions and results.
  • Time and Priority Management – The ability to prioritize and complete tasks while meeting deadlines, creating an environment that is results-oriented, and ensuring that time and budget goals are met.
  • Flexibility – The ability to readily receive information, respond, modify perspectives, and adapt to change.


While no single candidate may embody all the qualifications below, an ideal candidate will have a strong record of achievement with a minimum of five years of relevant professional arts and creativity experience in the nonprofit, public, or private sectors. Demonstrable knowledge and experience in diversity, inclusion, racial equity, and racial justice, including lived experience and communicating with diverse constituencies in a variety of settings, are critical.

Must be able to travel and support program activities that take place during evening and/or weekend hours. Quantitative and qualitative analytical skills are necessary, as is using both objective data and informed opinions to evaluate the impact of an organization’s work. Strong skills in Microsoft Office suite and familiarity with Salesforce or similar database programs would be an asset. Academic degrees in arts, arts administration, or related fields are welcome but not required.

Compensation and Benefits

Starting salary is commensurate with experience, anticipated to be within a range of $115,000 to $125,000. Attractive employee benefits include generous health, dental, vision, and life insurance; strong retirement savings program; 15 vacation days to start; and generous parental leave and health leave policies.

COVID-19 Update and Hybrid Work Environment

This position is based in Barr’s offices on the waterfront in Boston’s North End. Currently due to COVID-19 and out of concern for the health and safety of its employees and guests, Barr’s employees are working largely remotely. Barr is planning for a gradual office reopening and this position would allow for a flexible working arrangement with a hybrid of office and remote work.

Vaccination Requirement

All current Barr employees are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and requires any new employees to be fully vaccinated by date of hire as well, absent a medical or religious accommodation as approved by the Director of Human Resources.

Applications and Inquiries

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:

Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Senior Vice President

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225

Barr Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to building and fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. It welcomes candidates who would both contribute to and learn from working in such an environment. In addition, Barr Foundation is a Compact Signer for the 100% Talent Compact, which is administered by the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, a unique public-private partnership between the Boston Mayor’s Office and Greater Boston employers dedicated to eliminating the gender and racial wage gap. Barr Foundation is proud to be part of this first-in-the-nation approach to reaching pay equity for women and people of color across the region.

Click here for the downloadable PDF.

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