The Theater Offensive
The Theater Offensive (TTO), is the leading presenter of lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) theater in New England, and a national model for advocacy. Founded in 1989 by Abe Ryebeck and other artist-activists, TTO grew out of the gay men’s guerrilla theater troupe United Fruit Company, in response to increasingly conservative national politics and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Since its inception, TTO has created edgy art and theater, bringing queer theater artists to Boston and celebrating bold and vibrant theater nationally. The work of numerous nationally renowned theater artists have been featured in TTO’s annual Out on the Edge Festival of Queer Theater, first held in 1992, including Quentin Crisp, Jackie Hoffman, Billy Porter, and BLOOLIPS.
With a mission to present liberating art by, for, and about queer and trans people of color that transcends artistic boundaries, celebrates cultural abundance, and dismantles oppression, TTO has created a loyal and supportive following locally, regionally, and nationally. TTO has received numerous high-profile awards, including the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama; the Massachusetts Department of Education Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students Recognition Award; and the City of Cambridge Peace & Justice Award. TTO is also a member of the National Performance Network, which includes more than 70 national partners in 31 states and 47 communities, and dozens of co-commissioning presenters across the U.S.
TTO’s programming prioritizes the self-identified needs of low-income residents of color, who often do not have equal access to affordable and relevant art experiences in the communities where they live, learn, work, and play. True Colors: Out Youth Theater is TTO’s longest running program, providing offerings in playwriting, production, and performance for LGBTQ youth and straight allies, from ages 13 to 25. True Colors youth leaders work with TTO to provide deep community engagement by bringing shows, events, and gatherings to local organizations, events, schools, and the streets. In 2017, the OUT’hood Residency Program was created to support the creation of artwork by, for, and/or about LGBTQ people with intersecting identities, resulting in the OUT’hood FEST where new works by resident artists premiered to over 400 audience members. This residency provides artists with rehearsal space, and logistic, marketing, and technical support, as well as mentorship on community-based practices.
Other TTO programs include Queer (Re)public, which honors and explores themes inherent in queer and people of color art through workshops, residency programs, and commissioning art, and the Queer Family Series, a groundbreaking program about the gender and identity fluidity of childhood and human development for and by the whole queer family, from elders to toddlers. These programs regularly commission multi-discipline, performance-based art to produce with and present to communities in Boston and beyond. For the fiscal years 2021 and 2022, TTO’s programming reached over 5,000 audience members, youth programming participants, and workshop attendees.
TTO works in partnership with both regional and national organizations. In collaboration with Company One and the Boston Public Library, TTO presents virtual Drag Story Hour, where a different drag performer reads a children’s book with LGBTQ themes. In 2021, in partnership with MASSCreative and the US Department of Arts and Culture, TTO produced the virtual 2021 Poetic Address to the Nation, featuring Boston-based and national performers, inviting writers, performers, and activists to present work inspired by the stories which were presented.
The organization is currently in the middle of a $20 million capital campaign to build the Boylston Black Box Theater in the Fenway neighborhood, which will become TTO’s permanent home. This site was formerly home to the nightclubs Machine, Ramrod, and 1270 which were epicenters of queer nightlife in Boston for many years. The new building will establish a creative hub for educational programs, community-led artistic experiences, and civic engagements. It will also provide much needed space and resources to historically marginalized communities seeking affordable facilities for their programs and services. Having received major gifts from MacKenzie Scott and the Mellon Foundation, the building is anticipated to open in the spring of 2025, when it will become the largest theater in the world owned and operated by queer and trans people of color, for all LGBTQ people, their allies, families, and friends.
TTO is governed by a 13-member board of directors, led by Stetson Marshall. For the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, annual revenues are projected to be $1.5 million, and expenses $1.6 million.
As New England’s largest city, Boston has long been the region’s economic and cultural hub, offering a variety of performing and visual arts organizations. With an estimated population of 667,000, Boston is one of the 25 largest cities in the country. Greater Boston is home to nearly 4.6 million residents. With strong professional sectors in education, technology, and healthcare, Greater Boston is youthful, culturally diverse, and socially active. Robust public and regional transportation systems support its draw as a preeminent international destination. More than 20 million visitors travel to Boston each year for national events such as the Boston Marathon, First Night/First Day, or Head of the Charles Regatta. Known for its historical roots and the American Revolution, Boston is a city that honors history. 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.
Sources: boston.gov; bostonusa.com; censusreporter.org; newengland.com; visitboston.org
Reporting to and collaborating with the board of directors, the Executive Director will lead and oversee all administrative and operation functions of the organization, with a particular focus on fundraising, artistic strategy and programming, community engagement and facilities management. Dedicated to the completion and success of TTO’s new building and permanent home, they will work to ensure it provides a safe place to the Boston LGBTQ community and their allies. As an advocate for social justice and queer liberation, they will be a cultural influencer and change agent, forming new and renewed relationships with individuals and partners locally and nationally to support the theater’s mission and raise its public profile. Grounded in financial reality, the Executive Director will provide solid business acumen, and support the team of staff and artists by creating a working culture where staff and youth program participants are empowered to bring their best selves to work.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Leadership and Facilities Management
- Lead, develop, and implement TTO’s strategic vision and direction, furthering its mission, philosophy, and values, while establishing a communication strategy that shares information with all stakeholders.
- Expand and improve youth and community programs, increasing participants and broadening audiences, through a combination of assessment tools, best practices, and collaborating with programming staff.
- Initiate and lead conversations about TTO’s future, imagining the unimaginable, and exploring new and creative ways to represent and support the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.
- Lead TTO’s capital campaign by overseeing the completion and opening of its new building, establishing systems for effective facilities management, and creating a passionate facilities team that will ensure its continued success.
- Find creative ways to monetize the new building, including rental opportunities, while ensuring that all decisions are made in alignment with the organization’s commitment to the community.
- Prioritize anti-racism and equity, diversity, inclusion, and access work in all management decisions.
- Embrace other strategic leadership and facilities management responsibilities, as needed.
Community Engagement and Revenue Enhancement
- Serve as the public spokesperson for the organization, representing and advocating for TTO with public stakeholders including the media, civic leaders, and government agencies, to elevate the company’s profile.
- Expand and develop alliances with mission-aligned organizations to leverage the future expansion of programs and diversity of partners.
- Support ongoing relationships through active involvement with arts cohorts, attending conferences and serving on panels to build and amplify TTO’s local, regional, and national presence.
- Cultivate existing and new individual donors, as the lead fundraiser, and deepen relationships with corporations and foundations including the Mellon Foundation, the Barr Foundation, and the Linde Foundation.
- Seek out new and non-traditional sources of contributed income, while leveraging the skills and networks of board members to enhance fundraising efforts.
- Re-envision and lead innovative marketing and communication strategies to expand audiences, with a particular focus on attracting those from the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.
- Embrace other community engagement and revenue enhancement responsibilities, as needed.
Organizational Leadership, Culture, and Team Collaboration
- Provide human-centered leadership, fostering a company culture where staff feel valued and motivated, wins are celebrated, and working silos are removed.
- Re-assess TTO’s organizational structure, identifying new roles to be created and hired, and supporting the team with appropriate human resources, structures, and systems.
- Collaborate, empower, and mentor staff, delegating tasks where necessary, and offering transparent and regular communication to create a high functioning team.
- Partner will senior leadership, ensuring that sound fiscal decisions are made and that TTO operates within budget guidelines.
- Expand and diversify the board, while guiding and supporting board committees in their governance, strategy, and accountability duties.
- Encourage active board participation and ensure their goals align with the overall organizational strategy.
- Embrace other organizational leadership and team collaboration responsibilities, as needed.
Traits and Characteristics
The Executive Director will be an inspiring and transformational leader, a strategic thinker, and a fearless champion of social justice who is committed to TTO’s mission and a celebration of the strengths of queer culture. Embracing a public-facing role, they will be adept at building new and renewed relationships in order to raise the organization’s profile. A strong and passionate communicator, they will have a creative and flexible approach to problem solving, while demonstrating the values of compassion, equity, and justice.
Other key competencies include:
- Flexibility and Interpersonal Skills – The ability to modify, respond, and adapt to change with minimal resistance, while effectively communicating, building rapport, and relating well to all kinds of people.
- Time and Priority Management, and Goal Orientation – The capacity to prioritize and complete tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames, as well as setting, pursuing, and attaining goals regardless of obstacles or circumstances.
- Personal Accountability and Diplomacy – The dexterity to be answerable for personal actions, while effectively and tactfully handling difficult or sensitive issues.
- Planning and Organizing – The capability to establish courses of action to ensure that work is completed effectively.
TTO does not require any specific educational credentials or a specific number of years of experience. The successful candidate will have a passion for the arts and TTO’s mission, although they need not come from the nonprofit sector. They will be committed to serve and celebrate BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and should demonstrate experience of working with diverse LGBTQ communities. A track record of fundraising success, and solid business acumen, is required. The ideal candidate will have experience with facility management. Exceptional writing abilities and verbal presentation skills are expected.
Compensation and Benefits
TTO provides a competitive and equitable compensation package with a salary range of $130,000 to $150,000. Benefits include paidvacation, sick leave, personal days, and holidays; health, long-term disability, and life insurances; and a voluntary 403(b) retirement plan.
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:
Geoff Chang, Vice President
1040 First Avenue, Suite 352
New York, NY 10022-2991
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 218
Theater Offensive’s mission is to present liberating art by, for, and about queer and trans people of color that transcends artistic boundaries, celebrates cultural abundance, and dismantles oppression.
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