Deadline: Apply by March 3 for best consideration. Early applications encouraged.
About Washington Project for the Arts
Unique among arts organizations, Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) supports artist-driven projects, advocacy, and dialogue so that artists can live, work, and flourish. Artists curate and organize all WPA programming as an extension of their own intellectual research and in alignment with WPA values of collaboration, inclusion, and experimentation.
WPA’s support for artist-driven projects is based on the belief that a thriving arts community is essential to the enduring health of society, and a vision for the nation’s capital as a place that welcomes, values, and respects the presence and contributions of contemporary artists.
WPA values artists and pays artists. Its commitment to paying artists fairly made it the first arts organization between New York and Miami to be W.A.G.E. (Working Artists for the Greater Economy) certified in 2016. In 2020, 50% of WPA expenses went directly to artists.
WPA was founded in 1975 by the art impresario Alice Denney, organizer of the legendary NOW Festival in 1966. Over the past four decades, and under the leadership of a series of dynamic directors, WPA has been at the nexus of the Washington, DC area arts community, presenting exhibitions, lectures, screenings, performances, workshops, symposia, and public art projects. Nearly every major visual artist in the District between 1975 and today has had some connection with WPA; many have sat on WPA’s Board of Directors, including William Christenberry, Gene Davis, Sherman Fleming, Sam Gilliam, Martha Jackson-Jarvis, and Maida Withers. Walter Hopps, the legendary curator, was also a board member.
WPA’s artist-driven program model was adopted in 2018 after extensive interviews with artists in the greater Washington, DC area. To learn more about WPA, please visit www.wpadc.org.
WPA has created a unique program model and organizational structure that inspires other arts organizations to be more collaborative when supporting artists. As a thought leader among alternative art spaces, the Executive Director shepherds WPA’s artist-organized projects, and identifies and secures funding to sustain the organization as a leader in contemporary art locally, nationally, and internationally. The Executive Director guides a team of 5-10 full-time and part-time staff and contractors to manage programs and daily operations.
Among administrative priorities, the Executive Director manages relationships with institutions including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as part of its Regional Re-Granting Program, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and a number of major donors.
Like all nonprofit leaders, the next Executive Director should bring a balanced approach as a visionary and operational executive. They should have the capacity for organized, focused work, and an ability to manage multiple projects under deadlines, while maintaining an openness to changing situations and opportunities. Specific areas of responsibility include:
Set strategic direction for WPA’s mission, vision, and goals in collaboration with the board of directors, staff, and stakeholders.
Maintain an organizational culture of care. Hire, manage, and mentor staff so that WPA has the skills and expertise to administer programs with a high degree of inclusion, integrity, curiosity and creativity.
Collaborate with the board of directors to achieve good governance and build fundraising capacity. Support recruitment efforts to replenish the board’s membership over time.
Serve as chief fundraiser, setting strategy with annual and long-term plans that cultivate and maintain relationships with a broad range of supporters, including individuals, institutional funders, and corporate sponsors.
Raise new sources of revenue to further WPA’s goals. Identify new funding opportunities, pursue partnerships, write grants, and secure major gifts. Develop new patron system to recognize donors. Manage two annual fundraising events.
Communication and Public Relations
Serve as chief spokesperson, representing WPA to a broad constituency of local and regional governmental and elected officials, staff, and commissions; funders; community groups; individual donors; and the media.
Build and maintain a broad network among artists and creative professionals locally, nationally and internationally.
Identify opportunities, strategies, and partnerships that enhance WPA’s artist-centric programs on a regional, national, and international level.
Finance, Operations, and Facilities
Create and manage complex annual budgets of approximately $1M.
Manage finances in collaboration with contracted bookkeeper and the board’s finance committee: budget and track expenses and develop clear financial reporting.
Coordinate necessary maintenance and modification of WPA office/project space.
The salary range is $90,000-$100,000, commensurate with experience, and offers unlimited paid time off and health and dental insurance. Some relocation assistance may be provided.
Location & Schedule Requirements
WPA maintains its administrative headquarters and flexible project/exhibition space in a 1,500 sq. ft. ground floor, ADA accessible facility in the historic Atlantic Plumbing Building at 8th and V Streets, NW in Washington, DC. WPA is accessible by public transportation.
The Executive Director, along with all members of the WPA team, staffs public hours and exhibitions. The Executive Director is required to be located in the DC area to facilitate on-site work, donor relationships, and a variety of meetings. Possibility of some remote work can be determined in consultation with staff and board.
The WPA Board of Directors has retained the services of Good Insight, a national executive search firm serving small nonprofits, to conduct this search. Interested applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter that describes their interest in and qualifications for this role, emphasizing related leadership experience. Visit www.good-insight.org/careers to upload application materials. Direct confidential inquiries to Claire Huschle at WPA@good-insight.org.
For best consideration, apply by March 3. Qualified applicants will be contacted on a rolling basis. Early applications are encouraged due to the pace of the search.
Equal Employment Opportunity
WPA is committed to a diverse workplace and is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Experience, Skills and Qualities
The position of Executive Director will be a challenging and rewarding opportunity that requires a diverse set of skills and experiences to achieve success. The board is seeking highly qualified candidates that can lead the organization with vision, skill, and creativity. While we understand that no single candidate can possess every qualification below, the following are priority areas.
Passion for WPA’s mission and vision, and commitment to our operation as an artist-centered, equitable, inclusive, service-driven, and sustainable organization.
7+ years of progressive leadership in contemporary art, nonprofit, or advocacy settings.
Skilled fundraiser able to secure long-term relationships with foundations, corporations, and individuals through annual giving, signature events, and capital campaigns. A broad network within the local, national and international art and funding communities is considered a plus.
Networked across multiple contemporary art disciplines on a regional, national and/or international level.
Polished and persuasive written and verbal communication skills.
Brings a strong equity and justice frame, with high levels of emotional intelligence, integrity, cultural sensitivity, and interpersonal skills.
Comfort with engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in many different settings with confidence, integrity, passion, and curiosity.
Established track-record of supporting contemporary artists and promoting an appreciation of contemporary art in the general public.
Experienced manager with a gift for fostering a culture of care, mentorship, transparency, and effective internal communication among staff, volunteers, and the board of directors.
Adept at working cross-organizationally rather than top-down; committed to transparency, openness, and inclusion in the workplace.
Collaborative leadership style; able to put ego aside and embrace WPA’s organizational values of experimentation, inclusion, and collaboration within a diverse team.
Successful record of setting vision for, managing, and implementing strategies that scale programs, initiatives, or organizations to a new phase of growth.
Knowledge of business practices, including a working understanding of contract and lease negotiations, IT and finance systems, budgeting, marketing, and HR.
Demonstrated experience working effectively with a board of directors, including engaging them in fundraising opportunities, participating in board recruitment, and orienting them to WPA’s unique culture, programs, and communities.
Experience developing and managing contemporary art exhibitions and public programs and events alongside a dedicated staff.