ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas

Executive Director

Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music

Executive Director

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music invites applications and nominations for the position of Executive Director. Ellen Primack has announced her retirement effective in the summer of 2023 at the conclusion of the Festival’s 2023 Season. She has served with distinction for 33 years. We welcome applicants of all backgrounds and will consider any combination of work and life experience that aligns with the position’s responsibilities.

About the Festival:

Cabrillo Festival’s mission is to “transform the orchestral experience for artists and audiences by building a vibrant community dedicated to the creation and performance of profound, relevant, and innovative music.” During two weeks each summer, the Festival gathers the creators of new symphonic works, preeminent and emerging, with renowned soloists, professional orchestra players, and the public, to explore the creative process and build a modern symphonic heritage. Cabrillo Festival has become an originator of new works, commissioning and premiering more than fifty compositions for orchestra in the past 15 years. While integral to and influential on the cultural life of the broader Bay Area, Cabrillo Festival is one of the oldest and most respected arts organizations in Santa Cruz County and deeply committed to community partnerships and playing a meaningful role in the quality of life for our local community. Cabrillo Festival is actively working to advance our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at all levels including with artists, staff, board, and audiences.

As the Executive Director, working in partnership with music director Cristian Măcelaru, you will bring experience, skills and passion for leading a dynamic and thriving nonprofit arts organization, along with a commitment to sharing new, diverse, and impactful music with local, national and international audiences. You will be ready to share your well-developed strategic thinking along with excellent planning, fund development and financial skills. You will contribute your excellent communication and leadership ability to build organization-wide consensus around shared values and shared goals.

The Position

The Executive Director (ED) is the chief administrative officer of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and reports to the Board of Directors. As ED you will be responsible for all aspects of the Festival’s management and administrative operations, ensuring that the Festival achieves or exceeds its goals for earned and contributed income while at the same time advancing the Festival’s reputation for excellence in all aspects of operations.

Strategic Leadership & Management

  • Lead in development and implementation of strategic planning in partnership with Music Director and Board to sustain and expand the Festival’s impact and reach
  • Develop and maintain strong Board and Board relations to provide the Festival with effective governance and fund development capacity
  • Recruit, develop and lead highly skilled, diverse and creative team of year-round and seasonal staff

Artistic Excellence & Execution

  • Cultivate strong, strategic partnership with the Music Director to produce programming that showcases cutting edge, engaging and provocative orchestral music for a diverse audience
  • Partner with the Music Director to create and deliver a Festival experience that attracts a highly skilled and diverse group of composers, conductors and musicians to Santa Cruz

Fundraising Strategy & Fund Development

  • Identify, cultivate and solicit individual donors for annual gifts and support of specific compositions
  • Oversee and lead fund development through grants from organizations that support the arts; develop partnerships with other organizations both locally, nationally and internationally to provide funding for all aspects of the Festival

Fiscal Responsibility and Management

  • Steward resources through development of annual budget, overseeing implementation and monitoring performance against budget
  • Navigate budget strategy decisions to support MD artistic vision
  • Partner with the Finance Committee and the Board for financial decision-making

Audience Development & Cultural Participation

  • Build and diversify audience participation, drawing from local, national and international supporters of contemporary orchestral music and align with strategic plan priorities
  • Oversee marketing efforts to enhance audience participation
  • Lead in sustaining existing partnerships with local, national and international partners
  • Create new partnerships to build on the reputation and impact of the Festival

Cabrillo Values and Culture

  • Lead in promoting an equitable, inclusive and diverse mission-driven culture that celebrates the impact of orchestral music
  • Maintain and expand deep and impactful local, national, and international relationships
  • Cultivate culture of creativity, possibility, and collaboration

Compensation: The ED annual salary is $110K-$120K (depending on experience) with a generous benefits package including medical, dental and retirement benefits, and professional development opportunities.

Experience, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

To be a candidate for the ED position you will bring:

  • experience in a leadership role at a nonprofit, ideally within the arts and culture field
  • passion for building awareness and expanding audiences for contemporary orchestral music
  • demonstrated success as a fundraiser for achieving and exceeding goals for contributed income, from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government sources
  • expertise as a collaborative leader and a commitment to sustaining a strong, highly functioning team; excellent skills in managing people, programs, and projects
  • high level strategic thinking and planning abilities
  • creativity and the ability to think in new ways to advance the organization’s impact
  • empathy, respect for others, emotional intelligence, and a sense of humor
  • commitment to becoming an active participant in the life of the Santa Cruz community

Application Process:

Send your application to with a subject line of “ED Application.” Resume, cover letter, and diversity statement are required for consideration. In your cover letter, we will be looking to hear about your experience and how it relates to this job description. We are seeking candidates that embrace diversity in all its forms and strive for an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened, and productive environment.

Review of candidate materials will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

Cabrillo Festival is an equal opportunity, nonprofit organization committed to serving a diverse population without regard to ethnicity, color, creed, religion, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, military status, marital status, political opinion, national or cultural origin, familial status, mental or physical disability, economic status or source of income.


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