The National Theatre
Since its opening in 1835, just a few blocks from the White House, The National Theatre (The National) has premiered landmark American musicals, including West Side Story in 1957; hosted presidential inaugural balls; and played a significant role in important national events, including the struggle for civil rights. Deeply steeped in the history of the United States, it was at The National that President Lincoln watched the Washington debut of John Wilkes Booth in the title role of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The original theater was reconstructed several times in the 19th century following a number of fires. The current building had its first performance in 1923 and in the early 1980s, the theater underwent a major renovation. The refurbished theater opened in 1984, with President and Mrs. Reagan attending a gala benefit performance of David Merrick’s 42nd Street. Simply put, few theaters in America have the history, prestige, and continuing vitality of The National Theatre.
Beloved actress Debbie Reynolds once said, “When a show plays at The National, it’s playing for America.” The National has welcomed almost every major theatrical star in United States history. It strives to be the “Stage for the Nation,” by presenting the highest caliber performing arts, ranging from Broadway productions to popular entertainment and award-winning educational programming. The National’s 2018-2019 season includes six Broadway productions along with a wide range of educational and community initiatives, such as Saturday Morning at The National, a series of free educational programs for children, and the Community Stage Connections, a free program that brings theatrical and musical performances to areas of the District of Columbia and surrounding communities that have limited access to the arts.
The National has two performance venues—the main theater, with a capacity of approximately 1,700, and the Helen Hayes Gallery, an intimate 125-seat performance space ideal for educational programming and smaller performances. The National also has an extensive collection of archival materials, including playbills, photographs, articles, and posters. Plans for proper storage, access, digitization, and display are currently under development.
While its name may suggest otherwise, The National does not receive government funding. The historic building is privately owned and leased to The National Theatre Corporation (NTC)—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1974 and governed by a 15-member Board of Directors. John B. Adams, Jr. serves as Chair. NTC’s fiscal year 2019 operating budget is more than $600,000, consisting of approximately 71 percent in contributed revenue and approximately 29 percent in earned revenue. This does not reflect capital improvement funds, with recent annual expenditures of $1.5 million. NTC guides community engagement, oversees educational programs, and preserves The National and its extensive archives. Among other responsibilities, NTC’s three-person staff manages The National’s relationship with National Theatre Group (NTG). NTG is an affiliate of JAM Theatricals and is responsible for the “Broadway at the National” season each year. NTG is contracted as the sole presenter on the Main Stage through 2027.
NTC’s strategic planning is focused on establishing an even clearer identity, supporting NTG’s mainstage presentations while expanding its own community engagement programs, and communicating The National’s rich history in order to distinguish it from its sister theaters and performance spaces. NTC’s corresponding strategic initiatives in the coming years include bringing The National’s archives and history to the public’s attention, increasing its organizational capacity, expanding its economic model, increasing its strategic partnerships, and formulating a communication plan that tells the compelling, inspiring story of The National.
The Executive Director will be NTC’s chief operating officer with a core focus on achieving The National’s strategic objectives. This is a key leadership role not only at The National but also in the cultural life of Washington, DC. The Executive Director will serve as the public face of The National and report directly to the Board of Directors. This individual will tend to the overall financial well-being of the organization, paying special attention to fundraising initiatives and NTC’s important relationship with NTG.
Roles and Responsibilities
Vision, Strategy, and Leadership
- Provide leadership focused on increased facility utilization, artistic excellence, commitment to the community, and significant contribution to the District’s economy and cultural landscape.
- Oversee the implementation of the Five-Year Strategic Plan (2018-2023).
- Develop an organizational culture that supports cohesive, creative, and productive relationships with a variety of strategic partners.
- Refine organizational goals and objectives consistent with the mission and values of NTC.
Fundraising and Financial Support
- Direct NTC’s fundraising efforts and supervise all fundraising activities, including maintenance of a robust fundraising calendar, research and submission of all grant proposals and appeals, management of donor recognition activities, and related reporting.
- Continue to deepen donor base and increase District support.
- Launch a capital improvement campaign with a focus on audience experience and operational improvements.
- Establish a formal endowment.
- Explore programming with additional revenue potential.
- Maintain a strong, positive working relationship with NTG management and staff.
- Ensure that organizational policies, scheduling, systems, controls, and procedures are in place, adhered to, and regularly reviewed for effectiveness.
- Provide clear and consistent financial reporting to NTC Board regarding NTG activities.
- Support NTG’s efforts to increase programming and activity.
Educational Programming, Community Engagement, and Archives
- Develop unique audience experiences that will raise The National’s profile and provide opportunities to attract new patrons and donors.
- Expand the scope and impact of NTC’s programs (Saturday Morning at The National, Community Stage Connections, and the High School Ticket Fund) to serve more children and families in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
- Formulate and implement a comprehensive educational program strategy to best serve the needs of a diverse community.
- Develop opportunities to produce programming in alternate venues like Freedom Plaza.
- Maintain relationships with leadership of other Washington, DC performance venues and cultural institutions.
Marketing and Audience Development
- Create compelling branding that tells the story of The National’s mission and vision and celebrates NTC’s legacy as a historic cultural presence in the heart of the nation’s capital.
- Increase public awareness of NTC’s individual identity and its relationship with NTG.
- Guide all NTC marketing and public relations initiatives and develop partnership agreements with key media organizations.
- Devise an overarching approach to The National’s archives and collection of historic materials so they are accessible and available for research, public use, and enjoyment.
- Develop a master plan to ensure proper preservation and cataloging of current and future archival material.
Board Development and Governance
- Engage with Board members to implement best practices, structures, and systems.
- Partner with the Board to ensure strong fiscal health and effective governance.
- Maintain a strong working relationship with the Board, encouraging all members to be active participants and organizational ambassadors throughout the community.
Human, Financial, and Technological Management
- Guide financial planning, including budget development, monitoring, and reporting; contract reviews and management; audits and investments; and other financial management areas as needed.
- Hire, train, and supervise staff, mobilize volunteers, and oversee the effective use of financial and technological resources needed to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives.
- Ensure that NTC’s technological infrastructure meets the needs of its internal and external constituents.
Traits and Characteristics
The Executive Director will be a results-oriented, energetic, resourceful, and inspiring leader with the ability to set, pursue, and reach goals in a timely manner. The Executive Director will excel in entrepreneurial and creative thinking, with the ability to see the big picture. Adept at multi-tasking, this individual must be willing to adapt to changing circumstances. The successful candidate will be a people-oriented leader who inspires excellence in colleagues, provides vision to the team, and mobilizes others to fulfill organizational goals and objectives. The selected individual will be resourceful and receptive, bringing energy, optimism, and a positive outlook. The Executive Director will be passionate for the arts, particularly Broadway offerings, and the historical archives of a national treasure. The Executive Director will have impeccable character and integrity, a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, and strong self-awareness.
Other key competencies include:
- Problem Solving Ability and Resiliency – The dexterity to anticipate, identify, and overcome obstacles, including the identification of multiple components of challenging issues, relationships between people, and steps needed to achieve optimum solutions.
- Personal Accountability – The competence to prioritize and complete necessary tasks to meet or exceed the mutually agreed-upon expectations of the role and to assume accountability for leadership actions.
- Planning and Organizing – The capacity to utilize logical, systematic, and orderly procedures to meet objectives, prioritize tasks, and develop procedures, processes, and systems that address accuracy, efficiency, and productivity.
- Physical Plant Oversight – An understanding that maintenance of the theater and the ongoing capital improvements, as funding permits, are of significant importance.
Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred) plus a minimum of five to seven years of related senior management experience in nonprofit arts administration, historical archives, or a related field. A successful track record in fundraising and leadership best practices is expected. Requirements include strong written and oral presentation skills and high-level financial management acumen. The successful candidate will have a passion for the performing arts and arts education as well as enthusiasm for The National’s distinct and historic role in the cultural life of the Washington, DC region and the nation.
Compensation and Benefits
NTC offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and a generous benefits package.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:
Ms. Jenna Deja, Vice President
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227
The National Theatre Corporation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes
a diverse workforce that best serves the needs of its dynamic community.
Click here for the downloadable PDF.