It is the mission of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts to serve as the catalyst for lifelong discovery and exploration of the arts. The Wilson Center is a multidisciplinary cultural arts facility with a 16-year history of excellence. The Center’s programming is designed to transform both individual lives and whole communities through the power of the arts. Since opening in 2002, the Wilson Center has continued to celebrate its five core values of excellence, innovation, passion, stewardship, and collaboration through an outstanding and diverse array of world-class performances, educational programs, classes, festivals, and special events. Currently in its 2017/2018 season, the Wilson Center now annually welcomes more than 45,000 people, including more than 10,000 students every year—many of whom are being introduced to the arts for the first time—and the Center is poised for growth and future success.
Situation in a 400-acre park in Brookfield, Wisconsin, the Wilson Center is recognized as a cultural anchor in the Greater Milwaukee community and focuses on three main disciplines: Performing Arts, Arts Education, and Visual Arts. Featuring internationally acclaimed artists and ensembles, the Wilson Center is recognized for its high-quality and eclectic performances and programs. Branford Marsalis, Audra McDonald, Pilobolus, Hilary Hahn, Suzanne Vega, Leo Kottke, Jessica Lang Dance, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Yamato, Al Di Meola, Kronos Quartet, Roseanne Cash, and hundreds of other artists have graced the Wilson Center’s stages as part of its annual performance season that is second to none in virtuosity and cultural breadth. Performances take place in The Harris Theater, an intimate venue equipped with a full-size proscenium stage and 619 orchestra and balcony seats, as well as in the cabaret-style, 136-seat Dawes Studio Theater and the Gerlach/Haack Outdoor Theater, which is home to every summer to the free Starry Nights outdoor concert series.
The Wilson Center proactively engages the community through one-of-a-kind initiatives such as the international Wilson Center Guitar Festival. Established in 2013, the Guitar Festival annually celebrates the greatest classical, fingerstyle, jazz, and rock & blues guitarists of today and tomorrow in a weekend-long festival format that includes live competition rounds, headliner concerts, masterclasses and workshops, vendor exhibits, and more. In addition, in 2014, the Wilson Center was awarded a prestigious $50,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which served as the catalyst for Lynn Chappy ArtsPark, a vibrant, outdoor artistic landscape that is designed to engage and inspire the broader southeastern Wisconsin community and beyond. Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors and through a partnership with the City of Brookfield, ArtsPark already features numerous non-traditional works of art and architectural structures located throughout the grounds surrounding the Wilson Center. As a multi-phase initiative, each ArtsPark sculpture and design element is intended to serve as a catalyst for expanded artistic and educational opportunities that highlight the role of art in our understanding of nature and the community.
Through arts education programs such as Beyond the Classroom, ArtsReach, and Arts Camp: The Art of Nature, the Wilson Center promotes lifelong learning for children, teens, families, and adults of all abilities, and offers innovative classes using state-of-the-art studios and stages. Visual arts also play a vital role in the Wilson Center’s diverse programming. In addition to year-round visual art classes and workshops for all ages and abilities, numerous works of art are integrated into the building's design, including a towering 40-foot high limestone sculpture surrounding a fireplace that is one of the focal points of the Wilson Center. The Wilson Center also celebrates the work of regional professional artists each season with six exhibits in the Ploch Art Gallery. The Gallery is free and open to the public, and each exhibition is celebrated with an opening reception artist dialogue.
In addition to community partnerships that feature performances, programs, and classes presented at the Wilson Center by the Elmbrook School District, First Stage, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Wisconsin Philharmonic, Trinity Irish Dance, and more, the Wilson Center works with numerous individuals, organizations, and corporations throughout our community to provide an intimate and sophisticated atmosphere for a variety of rental events. These events often include performances, weddings, festivals, arts education classes, meetings, fundraisers, and private parties.
Governed by a dedicated 32-member Board of Directors led by Board Chair Fred Syrjanen, the Wilson Center has a staff of 13 full-time and 18 part-time employees, with 100 additional volunteers and event/performance overhires to support a myriad of functions. During the 2017 fiscal year, the Wilson Center had total revenues of $2.3 million, including $1 million in contributed revenue and $1.3 million in earned revenue. The current 2017/2018 season is budgeted at $2.2 million in total revenues and the fiscal year ends August 31.
For a virtual tour of the Wilson Center, please visit www.wilson-center.com/virtual-tour.
Reporting to and working closely with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director (ED) will be an inspiring leader within the organization and the community. The ED will be the leader in fundraising for both operating and capital needs, have extensive experience in developing and managing operating budgets, be responsible for initiating/expanding strategic collaborations in the Center’s cultural and educational focus areas, and have an established track record of excellence in developing and empowering employees. The ED will publicly represent the Wilson Center in all matters regarding media, government, and business, as well as cultural and educational institutions. Responsible for setting the overall vision and mission of the organization, the ED must achieve mutually agreed-upon goals and objectives, facilitate internal management, engage the Board and key stakeholders, oversee programming and external affairs, and serve as a visionary leader who will grow the Center to its next level of excellence.
The Board of Directors
Earned and Contributed Revenue: identify, lead, and enhance earned and contributed revenue opportunities
- Serve as the chief fundraiser for the organization, responsible for all sponsorships, naming rights and underwriting, fundraising events, and annual campaigns,
- Actively lead and participate in the cultivation and solicitation of major donors, individuals, foundations, corporations, and government.
- Direct the achievement of annual earned income goals, including subscriptions, single tickets, and rental revenue.
Financial and Human Resource Management: provide prudent financial management to advance the mission while creating a solid human resource infrastructure to support the staff
- Manage operations, budget planning and reporting, cash flow, and administration and implementation of short-term and long-range plans.
- Present balance sheets, income statements, and other financial oversight reports to the Board for review.
- Create and maintain appropriate policies and procedures for internal controls and address any audit issues.
- Ensure that financial activities comply with generally accepted accounting practices.
- Lead staff hiring, management, development, and retention and incorporate open discussion and reviews.
- Foster open communication, create a collaborative atmosphere, and champion trust and cohesion within the organization.
Artistic Excellence & Audience Development: guide all artistic and programming decisions and ensure conformance within budgetary parameters
- Build strong relationships with professional and teaching artists, as well as with local collaborative partners and national and international presenting agents and organizations
- Strategize the most effective ways to attract the highest-quality local, national, and international artists to the Wilson Center.
- Strengthen the organizational brand, making the Wilson Center a “must” for performing and visual artists.
- Ensure the highest level of excellence in the delivery of outstanding customer service and patron experiences.
- Collaborate with the staff and Board to identify target audiences and opportunities for audience/program development that are aligned with the Center’s mission and financial goals.
Education, Outreach, and External Relations: create opportunities to enhance awareness of the Center’s mission, vision, programs, and impact
- Position the Wilson Center as a first-class cultural asset in the Greater Milwaukee/Southeast Wisconsin community.
- Support, engage, and nurture the Center’s educational programming while strengthening special long-standing relationships with area school boards.
- Enhance and create appropriate strategic partnerships in the community that advance the Center’s educational outreach programs.
- Build effective relationships with business, government, and media leaders, as well as other arts, academic, and community organizations.
Governance: partner with the Board of Directors and be a consensus builder, working collaboratively to develop and overall strategy and policy
- Support the Board through proactive communications of internal and external issues affecting the organization and the overall cultural/arts landscape in our community.
- Through the Governance Committee, engage, attract, and develop new Board members and other volunteers, ensuring they are motivated, engaged, and energized by their association with the Wilson Center.
- Help committees develop goals and implement strategies to advance annual and long-term goals.
Traits and Characteristics
The ED will be a visionary, results-oriented leader with an understanding of the complexities of a multi-disciplinary arts center and a personal passion for the arts. S/he will be a team player, deeply engaged with all stakeholders to understand their diverse needs and interests. The ED will possess superior skills in communication, public speaking, active listening, and interpersonal relations in order to build internal and external networks of supporters and advances in the Greater Milwaukee region. As a mentor to the staff, s/he will set clear expectations, create transparent processes and procedures, guide the creation of short- and long-term plans, and support professional development. S/he will possess the financial savvy and business acumen to make sound decisions and support goal achievement. The ED will serve as a gracious ambassador for the Wilson Center, remaining customer-oriented, warm, friendly, and focused on collaborative initiatives, donor stewardship, artistic excellence, and audience development.
The selected candidate should also demonstrate the following competencies:
- Leadership & Teamwork: work effectively and productively with others to achieve extraordinary results
- Flexibility, Resiliency and Problem-Solving: demonstrate agility in responding to change, as well as an ability to recover quickly from adversity by anticipating, analyzing, diagnosing, and resolving problems
- Decision-Making, Self-Management, Planning & Organization: use logical, systematic, and orderly procedures to create plans; manage time and priorities for self and for team; and utilize effective processes to make decisions, leading to achievements of objectives
The successful candidate will have senior-level management experience in the nonprofit or for-profit sector and the ability to create a human resource function that supports the staff at all levels. S/he will possess the skills to set and meet achievable and sustainable contributed and earned income goals, with a minimum of five years involvement in fundraising and audience development activities. Qualified applicants will have a bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred) and experience working with nonprofit boards, as well as an understanding of prudent financial management. A deep personal commitment to the arts, in its myriad of disciplines and forms, is expected.
Competitive compensation package commensurate with experience includes health, dental, vision, life insurance, as well as vacation, personal, holiday, and sick days.
How to Apply
Please electronically submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments as a PDF or Word document to Fred Syrjanen, Board Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.