New Arts Service Organization - Executive Director Northwest Arkansas Council

New Arts Service Organization

Executive Director


A new arts service organization is being envisioned to build the capacity of the cultural sector in Northwest Arkansas and to support the programs and activities that expand access to arts, culture, and heritage. Initially funded by the Walton Family Foundation and supported by other regional foundations, the new organization will be incubated at the Northwest Arkansas Council (Council) to ensure its integration with the larger regional planning efforts. The Council will provide administrative support to the new arts service organization during its development and will remain a partner as the organization explores business model options before becoming an independent entity. Established in 1990, the Council will focus on economic development and is recognized for its leadership in advancing job opportunities, infrastructure investment, and quality of life in the state and region. The Council works with partners to perform data collection and analysis that produces comprehensive reports on how the region is changing and to support its emphasis that the region is “Great for Business. Great for Life”

In addition to providing leadership, professional development, small grants, and advocacy, this new organization will promote the arts while actively strengthening the infrastructure of the cultural community. It will also support creative growth—from individual artists to cultural organizations—and build cultural awareness about the activities, opportunities, and impacts of the region.


Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the United States, with more than 545,000 residents—a figure that continues to grow by approximately 30 new residents each day. The region is also home to a diverse community of artists and creative professionals. The median age is 33.5 years, making it an ideal home for young professionals and families. The region is powered by three Fortune 500 corporate headquarters and the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. Its historic downtowns and vibrant entertainment districts are recognized as top destinations for shopping, dining, and the arts. Outdoor amenities abound, with multiple state parks, 486 miles of Beaver Lake shoreline, an impressive regional trail system, a botanical garden, and endless hiking, biking, and boating opportunities. A diverse array of educational opportunities is available through nationally ranked high schools, two universities, and a community college.

The public, private, and philanthropic sectors have invested billions of dollars creating a world-class infrastructure and amenities that one would not normally find in mid-sized metropolitan areas. Recent examples include:

  • Arts and Culture: Opened in 2011, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art hosts more than 600,000 visitors each year. The Walton Arts Center and Walmart AMP venues host dozens of Broadway shows and concerts for more than 350,000 visitors annually. The Scott Family Amazeum is a new interactive children’s museum that opened in 2015. The University of Arkansas recently announced gifts of more than $160 million to support the establishment of a School of Art and the Windgate Art & Design District. The City of Fayetteville has dedicated approximately $26 million to arts and culture, including a new cultural arts corridor and a 50,000-square-foot theater complex for TheatreSquared, which was named by the American Theatre Wing as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theaters. Brightwater: Center for the Study of Food is a world-class culinary education facility that has put the region on the national culinary landscape. Slated to open in 2020, the Momentary is an adaptive reuse project that will transform a 63,000-square-foot decommissioned industrial plant into a multi-disciplinary space for visual and performing arts and an artist-in-residency program.
  • Festivals: The Bentonville Film Festival was developed by actor Geena Davis and focuses on diversity and inclusion in film. The Fayetteville Roots Festival is an intimate five-day urban music and food festival, rapidly establishing itself as one of the best events of its kind in the nation. Artosphere is the Walton Arts Center’s annual arts and nature festival, celebrating artists who are influenced by nature and inspire people to live more sustainable lives. BITE NWA is a three-day food festival, celebrating the region’s best cuisines, ingredients, restaurants, and chefs
  • Recreation: The region features nearly 400 miles of natural-surface trails and multi-purpose paved paths, including the more than 37-mile Razorback Regional Greenway, which connects seven major cities across the region; four new technical bike courses; two climbing facilities; two botanical gardens; and two of the nation’s best farmer’s markets.

Northwest Arkansas is gaining national recognition for its robust economy and outstanding quality of life, consistently showing up in the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities Index and ranked among the top five places to live by US News & World Report for the past three years.


Position Summary

A collaborative and visionary leader, the Executive Director will be responsible for developing, articulating, and implementing the new organization’s mission. The Executive Director will build consensus throughout the region around the new organization’s name, vision, and values. This individual will also work with the board of directors and a variety of regional stakeholders in a robust strategic planning and community engagement process. Determining key programs and services, as well as building the overall management structures of the organization, will be key components in the Executive Director role.

Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Planning and Community Engagement

  • Identify and assess the arts, culture, and heritage needs of regional cultural organizations, individual artists, funders, business leaders, educational organizations, government agencies, and residents.
  • Evaluate a variety of business and operating models to determine how a new arts service organization can best serve the multiple needs of a growing region.
  • Create the organization’s initial strategic plan, operational budget, and staffing plan.
  • Build arts, culture, and heritage organizational capacity through professional development opportunities that enhance and attract artists and cultural organizations.
  • Embrace other strategic planning and community engagement responsibilities, as needed.

Advocacy and Leadership

  • Develop and implement an institutional branding and public relations program that communicates the positive social, educational, economic, and community impacts of arts, culture, and heritage activities.
  • Actively position the organization as the region’s top advocacy voice for the arts, culture, and heritage, ensuring that stakeholders understand its breadth and depth of activities, impacts, and importance to the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.
  • Lead cultural tourism and other regional planning efforts to highlight the vast resources of the region, with an eye towards opportunities for further cultural and economic development.
  • Support appropriate initiatives to expand public support for the arts and culture sector while working with partners to promote the value of the arts as a catalyst for economic development.
  • Serve as the face of the organization, representing the region at meetings, conventions, and public forums in the business, philanthropic, and civic sectors.
  • Keep abreast of national and statewide initiatives and legislation to expand public support.
  • Empower the board of directors with knowledge and information that energizes their advocacy efforts, as appropriate.
  • Embrace other advocacy and leadership responsibilities, as needed.

Fiscal Oversight and Administration

  • Maintain the management relationship with the Council while providing fiscal and organizational leadership of the organization’s resources.
  • Develop and diversify sufficient financial resources to ensure the organization’s financial health and future sustainability as a separate entity.
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable laws in creating and governing an independent nonprofit organization.
  • Embrace other fiscal and administrative responsibilities, as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

The Executive Director will be an entrepreneurial leader and a creative thinker who embraces the opportunities that a new arts service organization can bring to a growing region. Anticipating future needs and the effects of upcoming cultural, social, economic, and demographic changes in the region, the Executive Director will be an excellent listener. This individual will also be a partner to internal and external stakeholders, with a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across the field. A thoughtful risk taker who is open and responsive to the ideas of others, the Executive Director will be able to prioritize and balance competing interests and build consensus from disparate viewpoints. A superior writer and speaker, the Executive Director will be a courageous representative for a new organization in the arts, culture, and heritage sector with a highly visible presence across the region, state, and nation.

Other key competencies include:

  • Project Management, Planning, and Organizing – The ability to identify and cultivate the resources and systems needed to obtain results and the capacity to prioritize tasks to establish appropriate courses of action.
  • Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – The dexterity to embrace different points of view constructively, resolve challenging issues, and bring cohesion among a wide array of stakeholders while interacting with them in a positive manner, treating them fairly, and listening carefully to what they have to say.
  • Leadership and Flexibility – The aptitude to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals with the agility and adaptability to embrace and implement change.
  • Personal Accountability – The confidence to accept responsibility for the consequences of personal and professional actions, maintain commitments, and apply lessons learned from the past while simultaneously living in the present and looking to the future.


A bachelor's degree (master’s degree preferred) and a minimum of seven to 10 years of increasing leadership experience in a nonprofit arts council, arts service organization, foundation, private/public partnership entity, or other relevant collaborative arts organization are required. A commitment to the arts, culture, and heritage sector, as well as social and economic development, is expected. Excellent written and verbal presentation skills and computer literacy (Microsoft Office) are mandatory.

Compensation and Benefits

The Council provides generous compensation, commensurate with experience, and a benefits package, including medical, dental, vision, and life insurances and a 401(k) matching Safe Harbor plan.


Please submit letter and resume (electronic submissions preferred) to:

Ms. Wyona Lynch-McWhite
Vice President

ACG Contact Logo

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


Northwest Arkansas Council is an equal opportunity employer and celebrates diversity of all kinds.

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