Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
President and CEO
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (Ordway) is one of the leading performing arts centers in the United States, renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and diverse programming. Located in downtown Saint Paul, the Ordway welcomes audiences of all ages and backgrounds for year-round eclectic performing arts offerings, including Broadway musicals, contemporary dance, concerts, classical music, and new works. Its mission is to create transformative, shared experiences for audiences and artists through live performance with a vision for memorable experiences for all who engage. Its values focus on:
- Access to remove barriers to participation
- Community as an integral part of the regional arts ecosystem
- Equity, diversity, and inclusion as core to its business practices and as a lens through which all decisions are made
- Innovation through creative solutions and new ways of working
- Leadership to serve as leaders in the community
- Organizational governance that promotes the power of multiple voice
- Workplace as a happy, safe, empowering, and responsive place that attracts and retains the best in the business
The Ordway’s story began in 1980 when Saint Paul resident Sally Ordway Irvine challenged the community to help create a performing arts center where her dream of offering “everything from opera to the Russian circus” could become a reality. She started the fund with a $7.5 million gift that, along with extensive community and philanthropic support, helped build the Ordway. Opening in 1985, the Ordway features the 1,900-seat Music Theater and the 1,093-seat Concert Hall, which was added in 2015. These two main venues are supported by two rehearsal halls, extensive back-of-house spaces, and two beautifully appointed atriums for pre- and post-concert gatherings.
A unique component of the Ordway is the Arts Partnership, a landmark agreement crafted in 2007 that brings together the Ordway, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Schubert Club, and Minnesota Opera. The agreement delineates the use and scheduling of the Ordway’s Music Theater and Concert Hall by the four organizations, as well as the commitments to create an access endowment and capital investment in the facilities. Established as a separate 501(c)(3), the Arts Partnership jointly manages a $28 million endowment and raises funds to support venue operations. In 2021, the Arts Partnership began a $45.5 million All 4 ONE Campaign, with $20.5 million for endowment, $16.5 million for post-COVID stability and recovery, and $8.5 million for technology and infrastructure.
Each year, the Ordway presents and produces Broadway shows, concerts, and acclaimed local, national, and international artists and hosts performances by the Arts Partners and other arts organizations. The Ordway’s Presenting series has featured artists such as Emmylou Harris, Gipsy Kings, Gladys Knight, Omara Portuondo, and Black Violin. Its Broadway series has featured productions of Mamma Mia!, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and the Lincoln Center Theater production of Falsettos. The Ordway’s holiday musicals are a Twin Cities tradition, recently featuring SIX, White Christmas, Elf the Musical, A Christmas Story: The Musical, and Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol. The Flint Hills Family Festival has celebrated the creativity of young people through a week of school performances and a weekend of free and low-cost performances and art activities for families. The Ordway’s commitment to young people is also evidenced by its robust education programs, which bring 60,000 school children to its school matinees, school residencies, and student artist training. For the 2020-2021 season, the Ordway embraced virtual programming and outdoor performances, including an original performance Live at the Loading Dock: Ordway Cabaret Series
The Ordway’s equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts reflect the commitment of a board and staff with new and ongoing initiatives interwoven through the organization’s programs and operations. These initiatives include creating the Community Access Program, which offers access to the Ordway’s shows and events to those for whom price is a barrier to admission; launching the Knight Foundation’s Cultural Opportunity Fund, which provides a subsidized rental of the Concert Hall for community groups and artists; and producing and presenting partnerships with a wide range of community groups such as Sounds of Blackness and TaikoArts Midwest. The Taking Our Place Centerstage (TOPC) initiative launched in 2010 to deepen relationships and explore the rich artistic traditions within BIPOC communities. Integral to TOPC is the economic empowerment of businesses and organizations led by people of color and the paid engagement of artists from racially and culturally diverse communities who have a voice in the way their work is presented and contextualized. The Ordway values racially and ethnically diverse leadership and continues to successfully increase cultural representation within its own membership.
The Ordway has an active and supportive 35-member board of directors, led by Chair Brad Wood, and currently operates with a reduced core staff of 49 highly committed employees, which is expected to expand when live presenting and producing resumes. The Ordway has invaluable relationships with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts; American Federation of Musicians; Actors’ Equity Association; Stage Directors and Choreographers Society; and United Scenic Artists.
For the pre-COVID fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, the Ordway reported revenues of $19.8 million, with $9.5 million from presenting, producing, community, and educational programs; $5.6 million from contributions, grants, and endowment revenues; $3.5 million from rentals and rental subsidies; and $1.2 from other revenues. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, annual revenues decreased to approximately $16.2 million due to COVID-19. June 30, 2021 total revenues are projected at $6.5 million. The Ordway’s permanently restricted endowment stands at approximately $15 million, which is in addition to the $28 million Arts Partnership endowment.
Saint Paul and the neighboring Minneapolis are widely known as the Twin Cities and make up the core of a multi-county metropolitan area that is highly regarded for its quality of life, economic vibrancy, and cultural ecosystem. Located adjacent to the Mississippi River, Saint Paul is the capital city of Minnesota and the second most populous city in the state. The city sits on the native lands of the Dakota, who named the area “I-mni-za ska dan,” meaning little white rock. European explorers and settlers arrived in the area in the early 1800s, leading to the expropriation of the land from the Dakota by the United States government through a series of treaties in the 19th century. The city was incorporated in 1854 as the capital of the Minnesota Territory.
Known as a city of neighborhoods, Saint Paul is not only affordable but also very diverse. With more than 300,000 residents, its population is 57 percent white, 18 percent Asian, 16 percent Black, 9 percent Latino, and 1 percent Native American. More than 80 languages are spoken in Saint Paul’s public schools. Saint Paul is also home to the largest Hmong population of any city in the United States. The cost of living is at the national average, while the cost of housing is five percent below the national average. Higher education institutions abound in the Twin Cities and beyond with almost 50 colleges and universities within 50 miles.
Saint Paul’s climate is typical of the upper Midwest with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold, with an average of 52 inches of snow per year, yet year-round recreation and leisure activities abound. Saint Paul’s municipal park system is ranked third in the nation by The Trust for Public Land, featuring more than 170 parks and open spaces, 100 miles of trails, four public golf courses, and a variety of sports facilities. Less than 25 miles from Saint Paul is Afton Alps, one of 18 ski areas in Minnesota with 300 skiable acres, 50 trails, 18 lifts, and four terrain parks. Professional sports are popular in the Twin Cities, which is home to the National Hockey League Minnesota Wild, Major League Soccer Minnesota United FC, Major League Baseball Twins, National Basketball Association Timberwolves, Women’s National Basketball Association Lynx, and National Football League Vikings.
Saint Paul has a lively arts and culture sector that offers a variety of experiences for people of all ages. There are 104 nationally registered historic sites in the city, including the Historic Fort Snelling and Summit Avenue, the longest stretch of Victorian mansions in the United States. The Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Children’s Museum, Minnesota History Center, Hmong Cultural Center, and the Bell Museum are all located in Saint Paul. Notable performing arts organizations include Penumbra Theatre, Park Square Theatre, and Arts Partners—Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Schubert Club, and Minnesota Opera.
Sources: saintpaul.gov, visitsaintpaul.com, bestplaces.net, census.gov
The President and CEO will provide strategic and community leadership that leverages the expertise of the board and staff in advancing the Ordway’s comprehensive equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives that are embedded in its mission, vision, and values. An external networker, the President and CEO will actively engage in the cultivation and stewardship of donors to support the vibrancy of the Ordway’s programs and facilities, sustain its significant infrastructure, and ensure its legacy. Reporting to the board of directors, this individual will be the organization’s primary spokesperson and ambassador, enthusiastically representing the Ordway, engaging in civic activities, and promoting the Ordway’s role as a leading community asset and driver for artistic, educational, social, and economic vitality. They will continue to foster authentic and deeply collaborative relationships with the Arts Partners that advance mutually beneficial initiatives and outcomes. The President and CEO will guide and inspire the Ordway team to explore new strategies and programs that expand access, increase audiences, and ensure the organization’s long-term success.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Leadership
- Provide leadership and direction, in concert with the board and staff, to define the strategic planning and community engagement process focused on long-range goals and organization-wide strategies centered on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Engage the community and embrace the Arts Partnership in transforming the 2021-2023 Strategic Framework into a robust strategic plan.
- Revitalize a mission-driven and sustainable business model focused on the return to live performances at the Ordway and throughout the community
- Envision and encourage innovative ideas that re-energize the Ordway to address broader community and audience needs
- Leverage the caliber of and collaborate with the board, staff, and Arts Partners in strategic initiatives that elevate the Ordway’s profile, image, audience, and revenues.
- Facilitate board and senior leadership’s regular review of a refined mission, vision, and strategic direction to mobilize organizational strengths, identify opportunities, and address programmatic, educational, economic, and demographic trends.
Revenue Generation and Financial Resiliency
- Develop revenue models that secure the long-term financial stability of the organization through effective earned and contributed revenue strategies, including the growth of the endowment and capital reserves.
- Strategize with the Producing Artistic Director to develop plans for the advancement of a financially viable Broadway series with a proper blend of presented and produced shows.
- Engage with the Senior Programming Director to ensure eclectic and diverse program offerings that create sustainable pathways for new relationships and revenue opportunities.
- Partner with the Vice President of Advancement to articulate mission-driven contributed revenue strategies through an array of fundraising opportunities, including major gifts, corporate sponsorships, foundation giving, and government support.
- Cultivate, strengthen, and grow a robust portfolio of individual supporters for the Ordway and the Arts Partnership.
- Collaborate with the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer to ensure short- and long-term plans with accountability for accurate budget development, monitoring, reporting, and evaluation of financial and operational activities.
- Provide strategic direction to promote the development and implementation of marketing and communication strategies that will generate and maximize earned revenue from existing and new programs and an expanded audience base.
- Commit to effective maintenance and infrastructure plans with the Vice President of Building Operations and Production that guarantee audience safety and comfort.
- Ensure that all advancement, marketing, and communication activities are conducted in a manner that enhances the public image of the organization and make effective use of the Ordway’s resources.
Community Engagement and Programmatic Vitality
- Proactively demonstrate public leadership by participating in civic activities, serving on outside boards, and strengthening the Ordway’s commitment to the community.
- Promote a creative artistic vision and support the program team’s development of year-round, multi-disciplinary events that further the organization’s image and visibility in the Twin Cities, the Midwest, nationally, and internationally.
- Develop programmatic priorities with the Producing Artistic Director and Senior Programming Director for the conceptualization and implementation of inspiring artistic and educational programs that bring joy, insights, and quality to the community that the Ordway serves.
- Leverage the collaborative relationships with the Arts Partners to advance an array of programs, initiatives, and mutually beneficial outcomes.
- Advance the Ordway’s creative direction through expanded artistic and educational offerings that appeal to multi-generational audiences and reflect the diversity of Saint Paul, the Twin Cities, and the region.
- Ensure that community engagement and education programs promote access, reflect the Ordway’s role as a leading community asset, serve as a driver for artistic vitality, and align with the organization’s vision and values.
Institutional Governance and Leadership
- Develop and sustain a collaborative and effective relationship with the board in ensuring its effectiveness and that members enjoy their role as community ambassadors.
- Continue to nurture the deeply held relationships with the Arts Partners and regularly strategize with each to optimize their respective roles in fulfilling their, and the Ordway’s, overarching and integrated missions.
- Communicate, in partnership with the senior leadership team, in a transparent manner and on a timely basis to the board, providing information that supports their policy-making capabilities and governance responsibilities.
- Engage board members with wide-ranging perspectives to address organizational priorities and represent community interests.
- Identify and cultivate prospects for future board service, closely collaborating with the nominating and governance committees to ensure the continued engagement of diverse, qualified, and engaged directors.
- Guide and connect regularly with senior leadership team members to ensure synergistic departments that align with program and business goals.
- Imbue the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the organization as essential to audience engagement, board participation, workforce development, and organizational vibrancy.
- Facilitate a productive work environment where everyone feels valued and respected for the unique skills, abilities, and cultural competencies they bring to achieve shared goals.
Traits and Characteristics
The President and CEO will be a versatile and people-oriented leader with a demonstrated commitment to collaboration and partnerships. They will create an environment that is open to new ideas while deftly assessing the practicality of investing time, energy, and resources. The President and CEO will be an experienced communicator who easily engages with people of diverse backgrounds and values community service. Approachable and empathetic, they will be a servant leader with the ability to unify and build consensus. The President and CEO will be adept at synthesizing objective and subjective data to gain insights that invigorate programs and refine processes. A life-long learner, this individual will value curiosity and thoughtful inquiry and constantly strive to be more culturally competent. Possessing strong time and priority management skills, they will easily shift between multiple projects and tasks in all areas of the organization and community.
Other key competencies include:
- Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – The capacity to actively listen and appreciate multiple perspectives; develop and nurture positive relationships with people across racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds; and demonstrate sensitivity in facing challenging issues.
- Leadership and Teamwork – The ability to inspire and build trust, lead with confidence, act with integrity and authenticity, respect team members’ perspectives, and make equitable decisions
- Professional Accountability and Resiliency – The confidence to self-evaluate, recognize and learn from mistakes, accept responsibility for actions and decisions, and overcome setbacks that may occur.
- Creativity and Innovation – The curiosity to explore and evaluate new approaches or systems, pursue non-traditional perspectives and novel approaches, and imagine innovative concepts that achieve desired results.
Qualified candidates will have a bachelor’s degree in arts administration, business, or related field (or equivalent professional experience). A minimum of 10 years of progressive senior management experience that includes demonstrated success expanding earned and contributed revenues, strengthening strategic partnerships, and increasing community engagement is required. Leading candidates will have strong business and financial acumen and experience with nonprofit governance models. A deep appreciation and understanding of the performing arts with established professional networks within the field are welcomed. A demonstrable commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is essential.
Compensation and Benefits
The Ordway offers a competitive salary expected to be in the range of $275,000 to $325,000 and a benefits package that includes paid vacation, sick, and holiday leave and employer contributions to medical, dental, and vision insurance. A flexible spending account, defined contribution pension plan, financial counseling, and 529 college savings plan are available. Employer paid short- and long-term disability and life insurances are also provided.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this unique job opportunity, please contact:
Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau, President
Ms. María Muñoz-Blanco, Vice President
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201 (Dr. Thibodeau) Ext. 221 (Ms. Muñoz-Blanco)
The Ordway is an equal opportunity employer and will consider candidates regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, marital status, familial status, public assistance status, age, local human rights commission activity, national origin, veteran status, or disability status. The Ordway facilities and administrative offices are wheelchair accessible and service animals are welcomed.
Click here for the downloadable PDF.