Woolly Mammoth invites applicants and nominations for this leadership position at one of the field’s leading regional companies. The next Managing Director will join Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes, in her inaugural season, in a co-leadership structure. Woolly Mammoth has engaged Management Consultants for the Arts to lead this search and interested candidates may apply for this position and submit requested materials by visiting this link:
For forty years, Woolly Mammoth has brought provocative, risky—even transformative—work to the stage. The whole Woolly family – from actors and production personnel to staff and the Board – have invited in and challenged the most diverse audiences in Washington, DC and stimulated discussion of important sociopolitical issues. The quality and impact of Woolly’s productions, as well as its “Connectivity” program to engage the community more deeply with the art and with the substantive ideas expressed by the art, are well known throughout the American professional theater. This is also true of its innovation and experimentation.
The guiding heart now building upon Woolly’s significant accomplishments is its new Artistic Director, Maria Manuela Goyanes. Maria began at Woolly in September 2018 after a nationwide search to replace Co-Founding Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. The process was highly inclusive with staff, Board, artists, community leaders, and others. Through a strong partnership with Meghan Pressman, Managing Director, Maria has begun to actualize her vision for this theater. Maria in her own life and career has lived by and shares Woolly’s own mission and core values:
To create rousing, visceral, transformative theater experiences that galvanize diverse artists and audiences to engage with our world in unexpected and often challenging ways.
Our core values:
- We are a radically inclusive community — across race, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, socioeconomic background, and political viewpoint – where all are encouraged to exchange ideas freely and reach for new understandings.
- We are a supportive home for creative risk-taking by our company and guest artists, staff, Board, volunteers, audiences, donors, and colleagues.
- Through relentless inquiry and experimentation, we strive for world class excellence and innovation in every aspect of our work.
All those involved with Woolly embody and live this mission and core values and strive to effectuate them. While these aspirations have not yet all been fulfilled, Woolly has certainly established a reputation in the national theater field for leading on these fronts.
Further, the people of Woolly always want to continue to question whether we can improve on the way things are done. That desire for adaptive change in pursuit of innovation remains a constant, as noted in this set of principles:
- To continue to work with material that is aesthetically innovative or unconventional, and morally or ethically provocative.
- To refuse to make plays in assembly line fashion.
- To continue to build a diverse group of company members and other artists with the skills and daring to travel outside-the-box, and to assure that a large number of local artists are utilized.
- To consider the performances as just a piece of the way to engage diverse communities in the issues of the plays.
- To recognize its own accomplishments to date in furthering equity, diversity, and inclusion, but also own the fact that Woolly can and should do much better.
As Woolly’s new artistic leader, Maria Manuela Goyanes has been putting her own stamp on Woolly in conjunction with these principles. Under her leadership, Woolly will clearly remain a company that is always breaking boundaries, taking risks but for good purpose.
Woolly’s success has been based upon its ongoing experimentation, as well as its powerful, trusting relationships with multiple diverse communities. The Woolly experience is not just about what happens in the dark among audience members and actors, but also what happens after a performance among audiences. This success has been powered by a strong professional staff, a close company of artists and a caring and engaged Board of Directors. Its historical impact has relied on many donors, both individuals and foundations.
Now, after five years that included the artistic leadership transition, Meghan Pressman is stepping down and will become Managing Director of Center Theatre Group, hence this search for a successor who is driven by Woolly’s powerful mission and core values and by a passion for the unique ability theater has to make people think, feel and act differently.
Since moving into its new home in 2005, Woolly has lived a story of growth: successful capacity building, campaign funding, stabilizing for a founder transition, and the hiring of Maria as its new Artistic Director. With Maria’s vibrant vision, Woolly is heading into another major growth phase. This will mean programming in additional venues, managing additional partnerships (co-pro, tour, so forth), and maintaining on-mission / on-task leadership of a larger team. This growth will to some extent be powered by a more vigorous relationship with the Woolly audience who will come to understand the company as offering much more than the opportunity to attend a handful of theatrical events each year.
With all this said, there are challenges ahead:
- Finding the balance between taking artistic risks in pursuit of Woolly’s mission and maintaining financial strength and stability is an ongoing and significant challenge. It is a circular relationship as artistic strength feeds financial strength and vice versa. Meeting this challenge is a key charge of the Managing Director.
- Audiences are not growing at a rate that can sustain all the company’s activity in the long term; subscriber numbers are declining (as is happening at many other theaters throughout the country). At the same time, Woolly can build upon its achievement that the current audience is statistically the youngest and among the most diverse of all the major theaters in the DC region.
- Woolly’s reliance on national funding, especially for its ongoing innovations, may be difficult to maintain, although so far, the major foundations engaged with the arts have been consistently supportive.
- Continuing to think anew about how and where people experience theater, and what varied theatrical experiences are possible.
- As the region’s theater community has grown and strengthened, and the national political environment has become increasingly partisan and tempestuous, so too has competition both for audiences and for donors.
- Since imaginative new ideas keep flowing, another thrilling challenge for
Woolly is to prioritize and sequence these new ideas and attach appropriate resources to them. By way of examples, current decisions to be made range from changing the subscription model in a way that will attract the size and nature of the desired audience; determining how best to re-design the lobby to align with the audience engagement initiatives; re-thinking the institutional brand; actualizing the artistic objective of having a larger array of actors, designers, directors, and writers developing each play; exploring alternative funding sources for new plays; and building the opportunity to export some of the theater’s productions.
Woolly has lately mounted a season of six to seven productions, including five subscription shows, although in Woolly’s ongoing embrace of change, it has experimented this season with a somewhat different structure.
The main theater seats 265. The theater and building are owned outright. The theater presently operates on a budget of just around $5 million. Woolly employs 25 full-time staff and approximately 110 part-time/seasonal employees. A Board of 22 governs Woolly. Approximately 65% of its income comes from grants and contributions. Woolly recognizes, and negotiates with, three professional unions—Actors Equity Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers, and United Scenic Artists.
Woolly has a very strong net asset position of about $9 million, including a modest reserve fund.
Much more information about Woolly can be found at https://www.woollymammoth.net.
Position and Responsibilities:
The Managing Director is co-equal with the Artistic Director, each reporting to the Board of Directors. The Managing Director will join a structure that presently has four direct reports to this position—in general management, marketing, finance, and development, although the co-leaders may well make adjustments to the current structure.
Key Roles and Responsibilities (often performed in collaboration with others)
- Be a steward of this organization and its deep and strong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Provide leadership for the continued overall health and direction of this theater; in effect, the Managing Director is expected to build an organizational vision that aligns with the vibrant artistic vision.
- Partner with the Artistic Director in progressing toward that vision for Woolly to fulfill the company’s artistic and social purposes.
- Work closely with development staff and with the Board to generate contributions through overall strategy development for fundraising, as well as direct personal engagement in major gift cultivation and solicitation.
- Support the marketing department as branding and positioning of the theater continue to develop and the profile of the theater—locally, nationally , perhaps even internationally—evolves.
- Manage the overall administrative operations, including budgeting and forecasting, generally through the direct reports.
- Serve as the Woolly liaison to and treasurer of the board for the Penn Quarter Controlling Entity that manages the shared condo block of which Woolly is a part.
- Support a passionate Board in its own desired evolution toward becoming an even stronger and more impactful group in support of the work of Woolly.
- Build an organizational culture that creates the optimal chance for success with a special eye on facilitating productive experimentation, in part by encouraging change and sometimes even failure—all while building sufficient elements of stability and clear direction to undergird this activity.
The chosen candidate will be deemed likely to build a meaningful and productive working relationship with the Artistic Director, in part by sharing passionately a belief in the guiding principles of this theater. Expertise and experience should include:
- Demonstrated leadership skills to share in setting a clear strategic direction and motivating others to pursue it.
- An entrepreneurial and/or innovative way of thinking.
- Ability to create a working culture in which all can perform at their highest level to best move this theater forward in the fullest possible alignment with one another.
- The skills to guide an ongoing effort to develop a sustainable business model for Woolly that considers artistic purpose, financial ramifications, and the organization’s basic health.
- Capacity to develop financial tools and models and to assess and manage levels of risk in pursuit of new initiatives by Woolly.
- Ability to cultivate and solicit major donors through the power of Woolly’s mission and accomplishments.
- Scope of thinking in matters of institutional positioning and the continued building of community goodwill toward this theater.
- The charisma and communication skills to be a highly effective public presence in representing Woolly with multiple and diverse communities and stakeholders.
- The tools to develop the stable foundation and infrastructure necessary to effect change, assure accurate budget forecasts, provide oversight to financial performance against goals, and offer analysis of long-term financial implications of major decisions.
- Aptitude for, and interest in, furthering collaboration among staff, Board members, and artists and artisans, as well as with the broader communities who are always considered part of the conversation by those guiding Woolly Mammoth.
- The candidate should also have a broad mix of the following qualities:
- A firm belief in equity, diversity, and inclusion—with prior training across the spectrum strongly preferred.
- A passion for bold work and a firm belief in the power of theater as a force for positive social change.
- Knowledge of theater as an art form and a belief that there is a future for theater and the impact it can have on our world.
- Belief in the value of engaging the broadest range of people in a powerful shared experience of the theater, including but not limited to the productions.
- An engaging and open personality, equally comfortable with all the stakeholders of this theater.
- The creativity, curiosity, adaptability/flexibility and grounded-ness to react nimbly to change, engage in out-of-the-box thinking, and accept moments of ambiguity, but in the end be prepared to join in leadership decisions to keep the organization on course.
- The ability to engender trust and loyalty through their authenticity and transparency.
The number of years of experience is not the dominant criterion. Leadership capacity, inventiveness, integrity, risk tolerance, commitment to EDI, responsibility and accountability, along with the passion for Woolly’s mission, are equally significant.
The post will be vacant as of June. The Search Committee will work diligently to make its choice over the summer, with the intention of mutually agreeing upon a start date as soon as feasible thereafter.
Procedure for Application:
Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resumé, and professional references to the consulting firm retained to conduct the search. All materials will be held in strict confidence. The letter of no more than 1½ pages should describe why this post and theater is attractive to the applicant and what about them and their work makes them a potentially strong contributor as a co-leader of Woolly. Application materials should be sent electronically – Word or .pdf only, please – with the applicant’s name included as part of each file name, through this link: https://mcaonline.com/searches/managing-director-woolly-mammoth
Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
Attn: Greg Kandel and David Mallette
NOTE: The Search Committee, composed of leading trustees and the Artistic Director, is committed to a search that furthers this theater’s belief in diversity. Therefore, candidates of color are encouraged to apply and identify themselves as such.