VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER JOB DESCRIPTION
Department: Executive Office
FLSA Status: Exempt
Work Location: Hybrid; primarily onsite with some remote work
FT/PT: Full time
Last Revision Date: September 5, 2023
How to Apply: A cover letter is required and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address:
Your specific interest in the position and working at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Your skills and experience that directly relate to the responsibilities of the role.
The Organization: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is known internationally for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep commitment to serving our community. Making its home in historic Orchestra Hall at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO actively pursues its vision to be an inclusive and culturally relevant community where all people can experience their world through music.
The DSO is a complex organization. Operating 365 days per year in historic Orchestra Hall, one of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, we are a performing arts institution, an educational facility, and a community center. We are governed by an independent Board of Directors and employ both union and non-union employees as musicians, stage crew, and administrative staff. Creating a unified culture throughout the institution is an organizational imperative, and we are guided by our values of excellence, diversity, resilience, collaboration, and innovation. The DSO is also deeply invested in the city of Detroit; through our Detroit Strategy initiative, we are expanding the DSO’s participation in the growth and well-being of the city.
The DSO’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is paramount to who we are; we work to create an environment where all employees are seen, valued, and supported to enable their best every day. This is essential as we pursue our mission to impact lives through unforgettable musical experiences by sustaining a world class orchestra for the city of Detroit and the global community.
The DSO offers a unique, fast-paced working environment, an excellent overall compensation package, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer. For more information visit www.dso.org.
Position Summary: The Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) oversees and provides strategic leadership for all aspects of the DSO’s artistic administration, orchestra operations, and community engagement and education efforts, guided by the vision and priorities outlined in the DSO’s strategic goals and 5-year financial plan. Reporting to the President and CEO, and working in close partnership with the Music Director, the COO is a key member of the Executive Team, including the Vice President and Chief Financial & Administrative Officer and Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, and works closely with orchestra leadership and the Board of Directors. This position is responsible for developing a portfolio that reflects the mission and vision of the DSO, elevating the orchestra and its Music Director, Jader Bignamini, while cultivating and deepening the DSO’s strategic local, national, and international artistic and cultural partnerships.
A diplomatic and dynamic leader, the COO is responsible for creating an unparalleled concert experience for audiences of all ages that furthers the reputation of the DSO as a destination for musicians and artists worldwide and as a Detroit community and cultural leader. The COO is also responsible for fostering a thriving artistic and work environment for orchestra musicians, guest artists and conductors, composers, artists from all disciplines, staff, and crew members, while developing and maintaining strong, constructive relationships that promote an environment of labor stability and team cohesion.
The position leads and mentors three direct reports overseeing a diverse portfolio of 29 full-time and dozens of part-time artistic, operations, and community and learning professionals. The COO guides the development of artistic programing, season calendar, and orchestra operations within the guidelines of the stagehands and musicians’ collective bargaining agreements and other artists’ contracts, while ensuring that the DSO’s vision for artistic excellence is imbued in all programming activities. The COO also guides the vision and strategy of the DSO’s community and learning team, including education, community engagement, social innovation, Detroit Strategy, and Detroit Harmony efforts.
Specific Duties and Responsibilities:
In partnership with the President and CEO, Music Director, and Senior Director of Artistic Planning, shape long-term artistic vision that positions the DSO to meet our definition of artistic excellence and provides unforgettable musical experiences that impact lives of all who experience our orchestra.
Oversee and support the Senior Director of Artistic Planning in the planning of all DSO programming and engagement of guest conductors and artists within approved financial parameters. Stretch the musical boundaries of the DSO while supporting revenue goals and audience development objectives. DSO Programming includes, but is not limited to:
PVS Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Family series
William Davidson Neighborhood concert series
Detroit Neighborhood Initiative
Educational Concert Series
Events in the Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube and Sosnick Courtyard
Signature Fundraising Events.
Develop strategies that elevate and expand the DSO’s artistic profile and presence locally, nationally, and internationally through digital initiatives, commissions, residencies, festivals, tours, and other partnerships. Regionally, this includes the DSO’s partnerships with Greenfield Village, Interlochen, Meadowbrook, and more.
In partnership with the President and CEO and Senior Director of Artistic Planning serve as liaison to the DSO’s Music Director Jader Bignamini. Develop strong relationships with the DSO’s Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik and Fred A. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair Terence Blanchard as well as other, and future, artistic leadership positions.
Develop and maintain relationships with artists, agents, presenters, and other influential music industry representatives to keep abreast of existing and emerging artistic talents, trends, and repertoire.
Oversee and support the General Manager in the planning and execution of multi-year advance orchestra calendars utilizing orchestra services in the most strategic and effective manner, including those that generate alternative revenue streams.
In support of the General Manager, serve as a primary management liaison to the DSO Orchestra Committee, Artistic Advisory Committee (also including Senior Director of Artistic Planning), as well as the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 5 and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 38 unions.
Serve as a lead management representative in the DSO’s collective bargaining processes with AFM Local 5 and IATSE Local 38. Ensure negotiations advance the DSO’s mission, vision, and goals, and maintain a harmonious relationship between the DSO and union leadership.
Partner with General Manager to shape and execute the vision of DSO’s digital initiatives (webcasts, broadcasts, recordings) to elevate DSO brand and online presence.
Support the General Manager and Orchestra Personnel teams to resolve complex orchestra and crew personnel matters, in collaboration with DSO Human Resources.
Foster and maintain healthy, constructive relationships with DSO musicians, crew, staff, and leadership.
Community and Learning
In collaboration with the Senior Director of Social Innovation & Learning and other Community and Learning department leadership, evolve, strengthen, and champion a vision and strategies that yield significant and sustainable impact in all program areas, with a particular focus on the city of Detroit and its residents by:
prioritizing social innovation practices and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
leading, promoting, and supporting current and forward-facing best practices in music education and engagement.
Devise and oversee the execution of strategies that strengthen relationships with key stakeholders in education and community engagement, including the DSO Board, Trustees, staff, audiences, and institutional and strategic community partners.
Serve as the staff lead for the Education Steering Committee of the Board as well as a member of the Board’s DEI Committee and Detroit Strategy Task Force.
Leadership and Management
Lead, manage, coach, and mentor three direct reports, ensuring unified collaboration across the Artistic Planning, Community and Learning, and Orchestra Operations departments. Oversee the preparation and execution of department budgets.
Oversee the preparation and execution of grant proposals, reports, and compliance in collaboration with Community and Learning and Advancement leadership.
Partner with the Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer to understand and strategically expand donor and sponsor opportunities.
Partner with the Vice President and Chief Financial & Administrative Officer to ensure adherence to departmental budgets and alignment with DSO’s 5-year financial plan.
Serve as staff liaison to the Board of Directors with the DSO’s Executive Team, advocating for the artistic and educational profile and decisions of the organization.
Partner with key members of DSO senior leadership, including the Executive Team, Senior Director and Director cohorts, and others to advance the DSO’s strategic goals and foster a dynamic, innovative, and collaborative organizational culture.
Participate and collaborate with national organizations such as the League of American Orchestras, the AFM, IATSE, and the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musicians to stay informed of trends and general activities in the orchestra and performing arts sector.
Other duties as assigned.
This is a salaried, non-union position.
Successful candidates must be available to work a varying schedule, including nights and weekends, to meet the needs of the DSO’s performance schedule.
All positions at the DSO require the successful completion of a background check prior to beginning employment. A criminal record does not automatically disqualify candidates.
Physical Requirements: This role primarily works in an office environment, and frequently has prolonged periods of sitting and looking at a computer screen.
Position Reports to: President and Chief Executive Officer
Direct Reports: General Manager, Senior Director of Artistic Planning, Senior Director of Social Innovation& Learning
The DSO recommends all employees be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.
Ten or more years’ experience in orchestra operations, artistic planning, or music education, including five or more years’ experience in a senior-level position with an orchestra or similar performing arts organization.
Five or more years’ experience leading teams, including working with professional musicians, and demonstrating effective and productive relationships with institutional leaders such as Music Directors, C-Suite Executives and Board leaders.
Deep understanding of orchestral music, awareness of current trends and best practices in orchestra management, and a keen interest in collaborating with musicians, composers, and artists.
Strong business acumen and the ability to understand complex financial and negotiated agreements; experience preparing, forecasting, and analyzing artistic costs.
Exceptional communication, attention to detail, organizational and administrative skills.
Demonstrated investment in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Demonstrated experience acting independently, taking initiative, and meeting changing priorities.
Successful experience working in, and contributing to, a collaborative team environment.
Seven or more years’ senior leadership experience with an orchestra or similar performing arts organization.
Five or more years’ direct supervision experience, including hiring, developing, coaching, and mentoring mid and senior level professionals.
Collective bargaining experience.
College or conservatory degree in arts administration, music performance, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
About the DSO
The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who concluded a decade-long tenure at the helm in 2018, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated... its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in eight metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.