Shea's Performing Arts Center
President & CEO
Located in Buffalo, New York, Shea’s Performing Arts Center (Shea’s) opened in 1926 as Shea’s Buffalo Theatre. Nicknamed The Wonder Theatre, Shea’s Buffalo Theatre was the dream of Michael Shea. Originally serving as a movie house, it would later stage vaudeville shows and play host to the likes of the Marx Brothers, Frank Sinatra, George Burns, and Bob Hope. Today, Shea’s presents touring Broadway musicals and other live entertainment in its three venues: Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, Shea’s Smith Theatre, and Shea’s 710 Theatre. Its mission is to restore and preserve Shea’s Buffalo Theatre as a working historic theatre, introduce and engage new audiences with Shea’s 710 and Shea’s Smith Theatres, and facilitate diverse, inclusive, community-building arts and education experiences throughout Western New York.
The now 97-year-old crown jewel of Buffalo was saved from demolition in the 1970s by The Friends of Buffalo Theatre. This nonprofit organization was responsible for getting Shea’s Buffalo Theatre listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the past 20 years, more than $30 million in restorations has been completed, including a stage house expansion. The restorations also allowed Buffalo to keep the only surviving Tiffany-designed theatre in magnificent condition for patrons and the community to enjoy. A highly sought-after venue for globally recognized entertainers, Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is currently ranked in the top three markets in the United States for one-week touring Broadway productions. Shea’s engages with producer Albert Nocciolino and his company, NAC Entertainment, to program each mainstage season. The Shea’s venues have hosted acclaimed talent from every genre including Jerry Seinfeld, Mariah Carey, Tyler Perry, Steely Dan, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and recently provided rehearsal space for the Broadway revival of Sondheim’s Into the Woods and the new musical Mrs. Doubtfire.
Converted from one of Buffalo’s favorite elegant restaurants—Laube’s Old Spain—Shea’s Smith Theatre has played host to Off-Broadway productions, comedy shows, and collaborative performances with local theatre companies since 2000. Seating more than 200 people, this flexible black box theatre offers ample room for events and special occasions and is conveniently adjoined to Shea’s Bistro and Bar. Formerly the acclaimed Studio Arena and the latest space to be added to the Shea’s campus, Shea’s 710 Theatre houses 625 seats and a thrust stage. This venue offers a full season of musicals and plays produced by local and international theatre companies. It also presents smaller touring acts and performances by Western New York schools. With every seat in the house providing a great viewing experience, Shea’s 710 Theatre provides theatregoers with a unique performance experience in a welcoming and intimate environment.
Governed by a 17-member board of trustees led by Chairperson Randall K. Best, Shea’s has an administrative and production staff of 36 employees. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, Shea’s had a total revenue of $37,000,000, with total expenses of $30,371,000. With approximately 260 ticketed events each year at three venues combined, Shea’s boasts 15,000+ subscribers and an average annual paid attendance of 290,000 people, with an additional 250 community members participating in arts engagement and educational events.
Nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, just southeast of Niagara Falls, the Greater Buffalo area has transformed from a Rust Belt town into a progressive, ambitious city. With nearly 1.5 million residents, Buffalo is the second largest city in New York state and home to a diverse community with more than 50% identifying as Black/African American, Latino/-X, Asian, or Indigenous. The Buffalo Niagara Region lies within 500 miles of nearly half the United States population, making it the largest international megaregion between the United States and Canada. This drives $85 billion in commerce annually between the two countries.
Buffalo has several significant corporate headquarters and campuses, particularly in the insurance, banking, and healthcare industries. The city is also trending as a top location for startup businesses due to its relatively low cost of living, influx of investment from both public and private interests, and ease of access to New York City, Toronto, and Chicago. Fueling this workforce is Greater Buffalo’s 106,000 students enrolled at 14 four-year colleges and universities. Many of the 28,000 students who graduate each year choose to remain in the Buffalo region, fostering a youthful and vibrant community. The University of Buffalo has been designated a “flagship” of the State University of New York (SUNY) community by Governor Kathy Hochul, recognizing the institution for its status among the nation’s leading public research universities and its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU).
Buffalo has transformed into a center for outdoor urban adventure. There is an extensive system of parks and parkways designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted that can be enjoyed year-round and the newly revitalized waterfront offers a converted 100-foot-tall waterfront grain silos that are now a hub for kayaking, zip lining, and rock climbing. There are new paved cycling lanes on streets across the city and ice bikes for rent at local skating rinks. There is no shortage of events for adventurous spectators as well and the city’s dedicated fanbase cheers for the Bills (National Football League), the Sabres (National Hockey League) and the Bisons, Buffalo’s own Triple-A baseball franchise.
The city is overflowing with extraordinary cultural destinations such as The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum, and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has undergone a $230 million renovation and recently reopened as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Hosting a modern and contemporary collection of international renown, the museum features the work of Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol, among others.
Nature lovers will find much to explore at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and the Tifft Nature Preserve. The natural beauty of these areas is complemented by the city’s walkable neighborhoods. Buffalo features many buildings by renowned architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex and Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building—one of the earliest skyscrapers. The New York Times has declared Buffalo, “a textbook for a course in modern American buildings.” Many Buffalonians personally contribute to the outdoor splendor of the city by cultivating spectacular home gardens and the city hosts the nation’s largest private garden tour each spring, featuring more than 400 gardens.
Edited from: buffalony.gov; visitbuffaloniagara.com; thrillist.com; thepartnership.org; inc.com; buffaloniagara.org
Reporting to the Chairman of the Board, the President & CEO will provide strategic and visionary leadership to Shea’s Performing Arts Center’s three theatres—Shea’s Buffalo, Shea’s 710 Theatre, and Shea’s Smith Theatre—ensuring programmatic and operational integrity, sustainability, and excellence. The successful candidate will prioritize and build on Shea’s impact as a resource for the community and will be the public face for Shea’s throughout the region, enhancing the organization’s profile and visibility. The President & CEO will be an experienced and enthusiastic fundraiser who will cultivate new partnerships and relationships in Buffalo, Erie County, upstate New York, and beyond. This individual will commit to equity, inclusion, and diversity as an organizational priority and translate these principles into action throughout the organization. The President & CEO will oversee the administrative functions, including development, operations, finance, marketing, education, community engagement, and board relations. Leading a total staff of 36 including a 5-member executive leadership team, the President & CEO will create an organizational culture of teamwork, accountability, empowerment, and trust characterized by proactive decision making, open communication, and strategic fiscal management.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Leadership
- Enhance Shea’s role within the Buffalo community by being a committed, visionary, and accessible leader.
- Serve as the organization’s ambassador, providing strategic guidance in preparation for the celebration of Shea’s 100th
- Champion anti-racism in the performing arts and foster an environment that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility through respect, collaboration, and intentionality.
- Create and maintain strong ties with community decision makers, elected officials, government leaders, the media, business leaders and other arts leaders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
- Partner with the CFO to assess and ensure strong fiscal health and that the organization is properly resourced to achieve its goals.
- Nurture ongoing relationships and manage contract negotiations with significant partners, including theatrical unions.
Contributed and Earned Revenue Enhancement
- Maintain Shea’s investment in a thriving arts and culture sector by serving as the organization’s chief fundraiser and partner with the executive leadership team and board to develop the fundraising plan for increasing revenue diversification and inspiring individual and foundation donors, corporate sponsorship opportunities, government grants.
- Cultivate ongoing government support from the City of Buffalo and state of New York, elevating the positive impact of Shea’s on the larger community.
- Enhance and guide a marketing and communication strategy that maximizes ticket sales, rental revenues, and other earned revenue opportunities.
Community Engagement and Organizational Vitality
- Demonstrate a collaborative leadership style in a wide range of communities and settings that inspires internal and external stakeholders to participate in Shea’s vibrant and exciting future.
- In collaboration with the executive leadership team, develop initiatives that broaden Shea’s reach in the community, actively engaging existing and potential artistic and community partners in holistic approaches to initiatives and programs.
- Communicate Shea’s mission to multiple audiences and develop and guide the implementation of effective strategies to expand participation.
- Lead efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion as a key element of community engagement in audience development, workforce vitality, board participation, vendor access, and programmatic vibrancy.
Administrative and Operational Excellence
- Motivate and mentor an experienced staff while recognizing the incredible efforts of the entire team that delivers on Shea’s mission, vision, and values.
- Foster collaboration, amplify teamwork, and share knowledge to develop elevate staff in all areas and create a culture where everyone feels safe, valued, and respected.
- Inspire effective working relationships with and among the board of directors, engaging with board members to encourage active participation and ambassadorship in the community.
- Elevate and activate Shea’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to attract and retain staff and board members from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
- Create a culture of continuous innovation focused on improving administrative processes.
Traits and Characteristics
The President & CEO will be an emotionally intelligent, visible, community-based leader. With a passion and commitment to Shea’s Performing Arts Center’s history and mission, they will communicate priorities to staff, board members, and stakeholders to expand the organization’s visibility and reach. The President & CEO will be versatile, people-oriented, and committed to improving the patron experience while serving as the ambassador for the organization. With solid fiscal and fundraising capabilities, the President & CEO will lead by example and apply practical thinking and judgement to all aspects of the organization’s operation and initiatives. They will be transparent and direct in their communication style and will value teamwork and collaboration. This energetic and engaging leader will be receptive to new ideas, methods, and opportunities and make tough decisions with confidence and compassion. They will be an active listener who is firm, fair, and friendly.
Other key competencies include:
- Personal Accountability and Diplomacy – The ability to handle difficult or sensitive issues effectively and tactfully and answer for personal actions.
- Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork – The capacity to work with a variety of stakeholders, including employees and community members to cooperate on objectives.
- Planning, Organizing, Time and Priority Management – The dexterity to establish courses of action and complete them with the desired outcomes in a timely manner.
- Leadership and Customer Focus – The capability to organize and influence the community while anticipating, meeting, and exceeding customer needs and expectations.
Senior leadership experience and proven success in arts administration, nonprofit management, business, or a related field is required. An ability to engage the Buffalo community and activate cultural diplomacy is essential. Experience as spokesperson who has represented an organization to a range of stakeholders including policymakers, political/civic figures, business leaders, peers, artists, and the media is required. Qualified candidates will have expert financial and operational acumen and a proven track record of success in fundraising. Demonstrated success advancing equity, diversity, inclusion and access strategies within an institution is required. The successful candidate will have experience managing and motivating a strong, unified team through a visionary, collaborative, and forward-thinking leadership style. Passion for the performing arts leadership field, including trends and best practices, is desired.
Compensation and Benefits
Shea’s offers competitive compensation with a salary range between $275,000 and $290,000, and a benefits package that includes health, dental, vision, and long-term disability insurance, a generous employer contribution toward a 403(b)-retirement plan, paid vacation, sick leave, personal days, and holidays and the extraordinary quality of life and recreational opportunities offered by the beautiful Western New York region.
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 job opportunity, please contact:
Jenna Deja, Vice President
Josyanne Roche, Vice President
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227 (Deja) or Ext. 240 (Roche)
Shea’s Performing Arts Center is an equal opportunity employer.
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