Vice President for Performing & Visual Arts

Chautauqua Institution - Chautauqua, New York

Job Category: Administration (other)

Job Type: Paid

Job Term: Full Time

Compensation: $13000

About Our Organization


The Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center beside Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of over 100,000 attend scheduled public events. Over 8,000 students enroll annually in the Chautauqua Summer Schools which offer courses in art, music, dance, theater, writing skills and a wide variety of special interests.

On the eve of its 150th Anniversary, Chautauqua has renewed its promise to explore the best in human values and the enrichment of life.  That commitment is manifest in the organization’s clear articulation of Mission and Vision.

The Mission
Chautauqua Institution is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social, and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance, and teaching of the arts.

The Vision
Chautauqua aspires to create an informed, engaged, and renewed public that fosters and actively contributes to a more civil society, nationally and within the various communities represented by its individual constituents and partners.

The end result of a fully integrated strategic planning process resulted in the need for the Institution to embrace the idea of structural change to position the organization for significant growth in the coming years.  As part of that process of change, the Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts takes an even more focused approach to supporting the on-the-ground activities at the Institution during its annual summer season.

The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was successful and broadened almost immediately beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.

While founders Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent were Methodists, other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward, and today Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical in spirit and practice. Chautauqua’s Department of Religion presents distinguished religious leaders of many faiths from this country and abroad, both as preachers and teachers.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) was started in 1878 to provide those who could not afford the time or money to attend college the opportunity of acquiring the skills and essential knowledge of a College education. The four-year, correspondence course was one of the first attempts at distance learning. Besides broadening access to education, the CLSC program was intended to show people how best to use their leisure time and avoid the growing availability of idle pastimes, such as drinking, gambling, dancing and theater-going, that posed a threat both to good morals and to good health. To share the cost of purchasing the publications and to take encouragement from others in the course, students were encouraged to form local CLSC reading circles. Soon these were established throughout the country and, in time, around the world. Among those who benefited most from the CLSC program were women, teachers, and those living in remote rural areas. At the end of their four years of study, students were invited to come to Chautauqua to receive their certificates in a ceremony, which is still held today during the first week in August.

With the success of the CLSC, many new Chautauquas were created, known as “Daughter Chautauquas,” giving rise to what was called the “Chautauqua Movement.” Some years later, the talent agencies that provided speakers and entertainers for these platforms, put together shows of their own, which traveled to small towns across the United States and Canada. These were known as the ‘circuit chautauquas” or “tent chautauquas.”

By 1880 the Chautauqua platform had established itself as a national forum for open discussion of public issues, international relations, literature and science. Approximately 100 lecturers appear at Chautauqua during a season.

Music became increasingly important at Chautauqua, especially after the turn of the century. A symphony orchestra season became part of the regular program in 1920. The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1929, now performs thrice weekly with leading soloists in the 4,400-seat Amphitheater, Chautauqua’s program center. Popular entertainers perform other evenings. Guest dance companies, with representations of both contemporary and classical ballet, also appear in the Amphitheater, sometimes with guest artists, while the Chautauqua Theater Company presents its season in Bratton Theater. The Chautauqua Opera Company, also founded in 1929, performs in Norton Hall.

Chautauqua plays a unique educational role today, offering studies on a vacation level, a more serious level and a professional level. In addition, there are enhanced learning opportunities within Chautauqua’s other programming. Music, the arts, religion, recreation and the pursuit of knowledge are all available. Younger and older students often share learning experiences in an open, congenial atmosphere. Children and young people are also provided with their own special programs.

Chautauqua Institution is governed by a 24-member board of trustees, four of whom are elected by property owners. The board establishes the policies and direction of the Institution, electing the officers who are responsible for the operation of the Institution. Smith Memorial Library and the Chautauqua Institution Archives are open year-round. Between-season conferences are held at Bellinger Hall, the Athenaeum Hotel and other facilities on the grounds. More information on Chautauqua Institution can be found at

Job Summary

CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION (the Institution) seeks a broad thinker who possesses an inquisitive spirit and a demonstrated talent as a superb cultural manager to serve as its next Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts.  As a critical member of the Institution’s senior management team, the Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts is the direct link to the artistic leaders of the Institution’s multi-disciplinary offerings, ensuring that the tactics for delivering all programming align directly with the expansive vision and values that inform all organizational plans and activities.  The Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts will come to each encounter with staff and leadership ready to creatively anticipate and address challenges before they rise to the level of problems and ensure that the full spectrum of the Institution’s cultural life is managed with grace, equity, and a celebration of intersectionality. The ideal candidate will be a person who gains great satisfaction from being an agent of implementation and nurturing and building strong teams, someone who can take the broadest and most engaging ideas and visions and turn them into highly evolved plans that further and strengthen the Institution’s bold ideals around serving as a convening place for social, political, cultural, and spiritual exploration and enrichment. Chautauqua Institution has engaged Management Consultants for the Arts to lead the search for their Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts, and interested candidates may apply for this position by visiting this link:


The Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts reports directly to the Chief Programming Officer and is charged with administrative and oversight of all visual and performing arts activities of the Institution. The guiding priorities and responsibilities of the role are:

Planning and Leadership

  • Comprehensive institutional oversight and management of all artistic programming for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Theater Company, Chautauqua Opera Company and Conservatory, Chautauqua Visual Arts, and summer series such as popular entertainment, family entertainment, Sundays in the Amp and chamber music.
  • Serve in a leading role for vision/mission work and long-range planning for the performing and visual arts.
  • Oversight of Schools of Performing and Visual Arts including School of Dance, Visual Arts, Theater conservatory, and School of Music (instrumental, piano and voice).
  • Form strong working relationships with the Chief Programming Officer and artistic and managing directors of all cultural programs.

Administration and Finance

  • Work across the organization to develop and monitor all Performing and Visual Arts Department budgets, ensuring overall institutional alignment of expenses and revenues.
  • Take a proactive role in working through budgetary details and communicating decision-making rationale behind programmatic resource allocation.
  • Directly and indirectly manage all administrative and artistic staff engaged in the delivery of the Institution’s programming, creating procedures and systems that honor self-empowerment and a unified focus on shared goals.
  • Oversee relationships and contracts with unions including AGMA, SDC, USA, Actors’ Equity (not AFM).

Collaboration and External Relations

  • Model and build upon deep collaborative practice with other program vice presidents to collectively plan and execute a successful summer season and/or other initiatives.
  • Support fundraising and advancement efforts related to artistic programming and be in regular communication with the Advancement Office.
  • Build and foster relationships with artist managers and artists for the selection of artists for Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Chamber Music, Sunday concerts, family Entertainment series, and popular entertainment programming.
  • Serve as a sounding board and reflective voice for all Artistic Directors.
  • Engage the local community through oversight of arts education programming.
  • Liaise with community groups including Friends of Theater, Dance Circle, VACI Partners, CSO League and Opera Guild.

Values and Vision Stewardship

  • Contribute to long-range planning that supports the vision and mission of Chautauqua Institution through the frame of the performing and visual arts.
  • Provide oversight for the total artist experience, including collaborating with Production on effective and timely transportation of performers, entertainers and artists to and from Chautauqua Institution.
  • Be an engaged participant in decision-making and relationship-building regarding artist and entertainment selection.
  • Show a real and present dedication to the Chautauqua community in Southeastern, New York and be an obvious public figure during the Institution’s summer season.
  • Take pride in building programs that have life and impact beyond the Institution.



Job Qualifications & Requirements

Qualified candidates should possess the following qualifications, skills, and traits:

  • A deeply curious soul who has an active interest in working with a multitude of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints.
  • An obvious and active personal commitment to DEI and anti-racism.
  • Is authentically interested in learning and has a voracious appetite for knowledge and discovery.
  • Has strong management and financial acumen specifically as it comes to producing performing arts, showcasing visual arts, and promoting lifelong learning.
  • A dual ability to think in visionary ways while taking the reins for executing detailed strategies and plans to make vision a reality.
  • A love of collaboration and a high regard for the grounding of organizational structure.
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills. 
  • Ability to read music and/or have strong knowledge of music is preferred. 
  • Proficiency in MS Word, Excel, Internet, e-mail, and other business related systems.
  • Is looked to as someone who models integrity, honesty, dedication, and balance.

How to Apply

Chautauqua Institution offers competitive compensation commensurate with organizations of a similar size and scope of activities. The organization hopes to make a hiring decision by the end of 2021, with the selected candidate assuming the Vice President for Performing and Visual Arts role shortly thereafter. Chautauqua Institution is an equal opportunity employer that celebrates diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. Any offer of employment will be conditional upon satisfactory completion of a background check and reference conversations.

Jonathan West and Aria Umezawa from Management Consultants for the Arts will be leading this search. Interested and qualified candidates should submit the following items for consideration:

  • A current résumé
  • Cover letter (no more than 1 ½ pages)
  • Four professional references

Submissions should be made through Management Consultants for the Arts’ website at: