Skylight Music Theatre seeks an Artistic Director who will collaboratively shape the vision of the company and inspire excitement, joy, and a spirit of conviviality and warmth grounded in the creation of high-quality productions of stories told through music. As a critical member of Skylight’s senior leadership, the Artistic Director will set the course for the company’s future by honoring its rich and storied past and forming a new relationship of authentic trust and ongoing conversation with the community it currently serves and those who will become part of the “Skylight family” into the future. The Artistic Director will have an expansive understanding of musical theatre repertoire along with an active interest in how opera and other artistic combinations of music and words can captivate audiences. Through know-how and experience, this individual will come to this position with the skill and foresight to understand how to listen to what a community wants and where they are willing to be stretched artistically. This strong artistic leader will possess a talent for rallying together resources, ideas, and people both on and off the stage, all done with an uplifting spirit that that finds opportunity in challenge, and triumph in shared moments of collaborative success.
The origin of Skylight Music Theatre dates back to 1959 when legendary Milwaukee public relations man Clair Richardson pitched an idea to a friend to rent out an empty office space and produce an evening of Gilbert and Sullivan so that they could “have some fun.” That auspicious beginning was the spark that led to the creation of the Skylight Comic Opera Theatre which was housed in a converted space on Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square that had once served as an automobile garage. That iteration of the company grew and thrived into the early 1990s, when the then retitled Skylight Opera Theatre moved into the 358-seat jewel box Cabot Theatre in Milwaukee’s Third Ward as the new tenants and owners of the Broadway Theatre Center.
Through the years major talents of the opera and musical theatre world such as Francesca Zambello, Stephen Wadsworth, Shuler Hensley, and other stars of regional and national stages worked alongside Milwaukee’s deep local talent pool to build the special Skylight brand. That brand has translated into an experience steeped in welcoming access, wild creativity, and an intensely personal relationship between artists and audiences shaped by the intimacy of the spaces where Skylight performances have taken flight.
Since its start, opera has been a part Skylight’s fabric, but as the company has explored new ways to connect deeply to Milwaukee audiences it made the intentional choice to adapt its name to Skylight Music Theatre, extending the possibility of what it is able to do from a programmatic standpoint. The Skylight’s current budget is $3.2 Million and it performs a five-show season in the Cabot Theatre, now heavily weighted towards productions from the musical theatre canon. It also offers smaller scale cabaret style and revue productions on an intimate stage in the Broadway Theatre Center Bar, the charming and elegant Salon, and the 99-seat Studio Theatre.
More information on Skylight’s history and programming can be found on its website at http://www.skylightmusictheatre.org/.
CURRENT ENVIRONMENT AND THE FUTURE
The Skylight moved into the Broadway Theatre Center in 1993 and became the owner of a facility created to showcase all of its own productions and those of other smaller Milwaukee theatre companies that call the two primary performances spaces in the building their artistic homes. Seeking to shed the demands of building ownership and ongoing facility maintenance, the Skylight brokered a deal in 2018 for a sale/leaseback of the building that houses its administrative offices, production shops, and performance spaces while solidly confirming its future by entering into a long-term lease.
The sale/leaseback of the Broadway Theatre Center has allowed Skylight to look at new models of sustainability and operate from a more stable financial base as it sharpens its current role in Milwaukee’s robust and changing cultural community. With fresh competition in the production of musical theatre from the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and expansions in Broadway touring options for local patrons, Skylight finds itself in a newly crowded market where they had once been the primary player. Skylight remains committed to producing music theatre in all of its forms in ways that engage audiences and illuminate the works in new ways.
The new Artistic Director will succeed Ray Jivoff, a popular local actor and director who has served in his current role at Skylight since 2016. Jivoff is retiring at the end of the 2018/2019 season after a long and active relationship with Skylight first as performer, then as Education Director and a stage director, and finally as the chief artistic figure of the company. Jack R. Lemmon has served as Executive Director since 2015, having previously held top-level administrative leadership positions in the regional dance and theatre world.
The Skylight Board of Directors is a group of deeply invested community leaders and volunteers who are committed to Skylight’s future as an organization producing music theatre in all its forms. As the Skylight looks to its future, the Artistic Director will join a company that is actively concerned with serving its long-time supporters as well as aggressive promotion of fresh ideas to welcome new patrons. Balancing artistic aspirations with a pragmatic sense of how to more firmly root itself in Milwaukee’s cultural firmament is a primary focus of the institution as a whole, and the new Artistic Director will serve as a critical figure in honing what the vision of the Skylight is moving forward and what values the company holds most dear.
POSITION DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Artistic Director will be responsible for programming, planning, and supporting all of Skylight Music Theatre’s artistic activities. Reporting directly to the Skylight’s Executive Director, the Artistic Director will be fundamentally committed to strengthening the company’s future and looking for new ways to build capacity through programming. As someone capable of shaping the vision of an organization, the Artistic Director will consistently put the success of a team ahead of any personal glory, deriving the greatest joy from bringing out the best in others. The Artistic Director will set the tone for collaboration with a team of devoted professionals within and beyond Milwaukee. As Skylight’s artistic ambassador, the Artistic Director will embrace taking on a role in fundraising and innovative entrepreneurial ideas that align with Skylight’s mission. The Artistic Director will cultivate a deep pool of great local artists, while extending the Skylight’s reach throughout the cultural world with an expansive regional and national network. The Artistic Director will be someone with great artistic savvy who believes deeply in presenting accessible and engaging presentations of stories told through music in ways that comfort, challenge, and delight audiences.
Lead the artistic side of Skylight’s operations in close conversation with Skylight’s Executive Director.
Help to manage expectations of all staff, volunteers, and Board relating to the growth and ambition of the company in concert with the Executive Director.
Take an important role in the annual artistic and organizational budgeting process, understanding the operational need and potential and how artistic activities inform the success of the company.
Ensure that a strategic approach to identifying new artistic and funding resources are part of all discussions of programming and planning.
Consistently promote continual improvement in professional processes that celebrate the organization’s evolving philosophy, mission, vision, energy, and verve.
Lead a team with openness, caring, confidence, and authentic respect for individuals, fiercely protecting Skylight’s long-held belief in the creation of joy and community.
Establish and nourish a great working relationship built on trust and accountability with Skylight’s Executive Director, Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and supporters.
Take an active role in being a cultural leader within the community, fostering great relations with other leaders in Milwaukee’s thriving arts and culture scene.
Set clear expectations that honor hard work, constantly striving to improve upon past successes while learning from missteps.
Value and recognize all stakeholder contributions (time, wealth, ideas, etc.) by optimistically encouraging creativity and the free sharing of ideas.
In collaboration with Skylight’s Executive Director, define Skylight’s artistic vision and direction through a deep understanding of how the company can uniquely serve local audiences and expand its presence in the region.
Develop programming that commands significant interest for its high level of artistry and welcoming attitude to audiences.
Participate in the creation of Skylight’s annual season through artistic work as a director, music director, and/or performer.
Lead the selection, hiring, and mentorship of professional actors, directors, designers, artistic/production staff.
Maintain a thriving and diverse network of today’s best working artists to draw upon for Skylight’s productions and programs.
Create an atmosphere and infrastructure where young artists can learn from the best in the field and perform at their peak potential and where seasoned artists are reinvigorated by new lessons gained from early career talent.
Show a dedicated commitment to education in new and creative ways by seeking out artists to execute innovative community engagement and lifelong learning experiences.
Explore the creation of new work development by forming relationships with professionals skilled in those areas.
Fundraising, Administration, and Strategy
Participate in institutional fundraising alongside Skylight’s Board of Directors, Executive Director and development staff.
Help to engage funders and key influencers.
Forge effective, collaborative, transparent working relationships to benefit Skylight.
Communication and Marketing
Act as Skylight’s chief artistic spokesperson.
Be an active collaborator with all of Skylight’s marketing efforts.
Contribute ideas on new ways to expand Skylight’s communicative reach in respectful and encouraging ways.
Communicate opportunities and challenges to Board and staff through unified messages created in concert with Skylight’s Executive Director.
Skylight Music Theatre is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices and, in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool. The ideal candidate will have the following:
Deep personal contacts among music theatre artists; a sense of artistic gravitas rooted in professional experience.
Proven talent as a respected artist with an emphasis on the music theatre industry.
Clear artistic and managerial experience in conceiving and producing live theatrical events.
Demonstrated experience working with budgets and organizational planning.
Proven track record of participation in fundraising and support activities appropriate to past organizational accomplishment.
Collaborative, transparent, team-oriented approach to work.
Ability to multi-task and respond swiftly and under pressure in a fast-paced environment.
Strong writing and communication skills.
Talent for mobilizing a team of professional staff and volunteers with an assured and inclusive sense of purpose.
Excellent facility for communicating opportunities and challenges in a manner that drives an organization forward with zeal and determination.
The ideal candidate will also possess the following characteristics:
Collaborative approach to executing ideas.
A warm, approachable, personality.
A strong attention to detail.
A strong work ethic, demonstrated integrity, and authentic sense of grit.
Ability to derive deep satisfaction from facilitating the best work of others.
A desire to become a clear and present leader in and friend of the community through residence in Milwaukee, WI.
COMPENSATION AND START DATE
Salary and benefits will be competitive with other companies of comparable stature and size. Skylight Music Theatre hopes to make its decision by early summer of 2019 with the chosen candidate taking on the position as negotiated.
About Skylight Music Theatre
Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center is working with Management Consultants for the Arts on this very important search.
For over 34 years, Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc. has specialized in working with the cultural field and has had a rich involvement with cultural organizations of all types and sizes throughout the country. We have built our reputation on our deep understanding of the needs and objectives of America's individual cultural organizations as well as our knowledge of the national context in which they operate.
Our services include consultations in: planning, executive search, organizational analysis, board/staff retreats and seminars, conference and workshop development and facilitation.
We provide these services to a broad range of cultural organizations, including theaters, art museums, dance companies, historical societies, visual arts centers, children's museums, science centers, performing arts centers, orchestras, service organizations, arts councils, foundations and public agencies.