Houston First Corporation invites applications for the position of Chief Operating Officer, Cultural Facilities & Services.
The Cultural Facilities & Services/Chief Operating Officer (COO) is responsible for the overall management of Theater District Facilities, developing and maintaining relationships with resident companies, the City of Houston and the business community in order to ensure the goals and objectives of the organization are met.
The Cultural Facilities & Services Department is a department within Houston First Corporation dedicated to promoting arts and culture in Houston. This is accomplished through the effective and exemplary management of several performance destinations and attractions.
Houston First strives to set the standard by which all other arts districts are compared through beautifully maintained facilities, a well-trained staff, and a collaborative spirit. Enriching the quality of life for Houstonians and tourists alike motivates every decision and every project undertaken by this department.
The facilities under the purview of this department are: Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts; Wortham Theater Center; Miller Outdoor Theatre; Talento Bilingue de Houston; Jones Plaza; the Theater District Parking Garage; and various ancillary spaces (as well as Houston First Ticketing Services).
The annual operating budget for 2017 is approximately $17.9 million with a staff complement of 38 full-time and 10 part-time positions, as well as contracted services. Additional funds for repair and restoration work after Hurricane Harvey have also been allocated. The department serves over 1 million patrons a year at over 700 events in 1.6 million square feet.
This position reports directly to the President and Chief Executive Officer of Houston First, Dawn Ullrich.
Houston First Corporation/ Background:
Houston First Corporation is leading the effort to promote Houston as one of the premier travel destinations in the world. Its employees operate the city’s finest convention, arts and entertainment venues.
A local government corporation formed in 2011, Houston First manages more than 10 city-owned buildings and properties and underground and surface parking for nearly 7,000 vehicles.
Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel, manages the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) and 11 city-owned properties and is the driving force in developing the new Avenida Houston entertainment district.
Houston First is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance, licensing and operation of these properties as the sites of conventions, trade shows and theatrical performances that enrich the lives of Houstonians.
In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau completed a strategic alignment to create a single, clear voice that speaks for the Houston product in all sales and marketing efforts.
The George R. Brown Convention Center was opened in 1987 and expanded in 2003. The GRB has more than 1 million square feet of exhibition, meeting and registration space, and ranks as one of the nation’s 10 largest convention centers. The GRB is the site of over 250 conventions and other meetings annually.
Across the street are the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston, which is connected to the convention center via double-deck pedestrian sky bridge, and the 12-acre Discovery Green park. The 1,000-room Marriott Marquis just north of the park opened in 2016.
In the Theater District, Houston First facilities include the Wortham Theater Center (home of the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera opened in 1987 with two performance spaces, the 2,405 seat Brown Theater and the 1,100 Cullen Theater); Jones Hall (home of the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts) opened in 1966; 2,912 seats). The venues also include tenant, administrative, rehearsal, catering, and storage spaces.
Other facilities managed by Houston First include Miller Outdoor Theatre (opened in 1923; rebuilt in 1968; capacity 6,200); Jones Plaza, Ray C. Fish Plaza and Talento Bilingue de Houston (240 seats).
Houston First interacts with several partners that benefit from its passion and resources such as Discovery Green, Bayou Place, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Downtown Aquarium, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Miller Theatre Advisory Board, Mid-town Arts and Theater Center Houston and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
While on August 27th, Hurricane Harvey caused extensive water damage to some of the properties managed by Houston First, the Corporation took immediate action to prevent further damage and to repair the buildings in order to re-open them for public performances. The Corporation, in the words of President & CEO Dawn Ullrich, is “steadfastly committed to seeing that everyone is back on their home stage as soon as possible.”
The mission of Houston First Corporation is to enhance quality of life, advance economic prosperity and promote the Houston region by inspiring the world to think Houston first; Houstonians to believe in Houston first; and Houston to deliver first-class hospitality. The vision for the Cultural Facilities & Services Department is to provide first-class destinations and services that contribute to rich experiences steeped in arts and culture.
In accordance with the mission and goals of the organization, the COO provides general oversight of the day-to-day management of theaters, ancillary spaces, and staff.
The COO develops, plans and monitors long-range plans and capital projects; directs short-term and long-range planning to support strategic business goals; develops and maintains partnerships with resident companies and all arts groups in the city, attends meetings and events as a representative of Houston First; and implements best practices and innovative programs that strengthen the theaters, parking facilities, and green spaces.
The COO participates as a member of the Executive Team in developing and implementing the strategic direction for the organization; preparing and monitoring the department’s annual budget, and overseeing the overall day-to-day operations of the ticketing and box office departments.
- A minimum of ten (10) years’ experience as a senior manager in large, complex performing arts facilities or cultural organizations.
- A track record in building and nurturing excellent management teams and the personal leadership qualities, political acumen, tact and patience required to manage a complex operation successfully.
- A graduate degree in arts, arts management, or not-for-profit administration is preferred or equivalent experience in facility management and administration. Contract negotiation skills, legal training, experience in working with municipal governments and urban planners, and/or knowledge of the region would be useful attributes.
- The applicant should have a comprehensive knowledge of many performing arts forms and all aspects of arts venue management.
- The new COO will have excellent analytical, financial and organizational skills. Other necessary characteristics will include political savvy and diplomacy, good oral and written communication skills, a track record in community partnerships and co-presenting, and knowledge of ancillary businesses such as catering, ticketing, parking, corporate and other outside rentals, and the like. We seek an industry professional with existing networks within the cultural sector and a personal vision of how the arts play a role within the life of a community.
Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Excellent benefits package. Deadline for applications: Friday, December 15, 2017.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a cover letter and resume with a list of references and salary requirements in confidence to: