Fresh from an era-defining 150th anniversary, the Cincinnati May Festival has made its mark as “One of the Best Classical Music Festivals in the US and Canada” (BBC Music Magazine) and is primed to become the most exciting force in the choral music world. Anchored by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the annual May Festival has long been distinguished by its unique community-based structure and standard of extraordinary artistic excellence. For over a century, this vibrant institution has catalyzed and shaped the Cincinnati arts landscape, and its recently announced artistic leadership model promises to invigorate concert programs and experiences even further by simultaneously embracing its choral music roots while innovating for the future.
Position Summary: The Cincinnati May Festival (MF) seeks an Executive Director (ED) who can build upon this momentum and provide exceptional leadership, vision, and collaboration to achieve the May Festival’s mission and vision.
A vital member of the May Festival team, the ED works in close collaboration with the Director of Choruses, the annual Festival Director, and CSO Senior Management regarding artistic programming, operations, and financial oversight for the May Festival. The ED also provides strategic and operational leadership and guidance for all philanthropic, marketing, communications, and administrative activities and serves as the primary liaison to the May Festival Board of Directors.
The ED will also serve as the Executive Director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati (VAE), the City’s premier professional vocal ensemble, as part of a shared services agreement with the May Festival and CSO. The ED will provide administrative, philanthropic, and operational leadership for VAE and serve as the primary liaison to the VAE Board of Directors.
Strategic and Financial Planning & Implementation:
- Direct and guide all strategic initiatives and activities for MF and VAE.
- Lead, develop, and implement strategic plans in collaboration with Board of Directors and staff members.
- Develop and implement an effective evaluation system for tracking progress and effectiveness of strategic plan implementation.
- Regularly report progress of strategic plans.
- Provide critical oversight of budgets, finances, and endowment levels to support strategic objectives and ensure the continued financial viability of MF and VAE. This includes but is not limited to:
- Preparing an annual operating budget
- Closely monitoring expenses and income throughout each fiscal year
- Regularly reporting budget updates for financial assessment and accurate forecasting.
- Assess the giving landscape, establish realistic goals, and direct multi-year comprehensive fundraising campaigns that encompasses annual, restricted, planned and endowment giving.
- In collaboration with the Marketing team, provide strategic support to maximize attendance, audience diversity, and ticket revenues year over year.
- Serve as executive leadership for both MF and VAE, guiding a team designed to deliver on strategic initiatives that serve organizational mission and vision.
- Lead, coach, and develop MF and VAE staff with an eye on retention and professional development; strengthen staff members’ strategic analysis, planning, project management, and program budgeting skills.
- Leverage MF and VAE cross-organizational strengths to identify operational synergies, streamline organizational workflow, and uncover artistic and educational opportunities that benefit both organizations.
- Serve as the primary liaison to both MF and VAE Board of Directors.
- Collaborate with senior leadership and staff members across MF, VAE, and CSO to achieve strategic goals and objectives.
External Relationship Development:
- Serve as primary representative and key spokesperson for MF and VAE.
- Actively develop and cultivate relationships with funders, identifying new and retaining existing supporters of choral music with the goal of securing and expanding contributed revenue streams year over year.
- Engage with external constituency groups, including but not limited to local, national, and international choral music associations, as well as governmental and private organizations, to develop and sustain strong partnerships, identify opportunities for collaboration, and expand awareness and influence of MF and VAE among peers across the community and industry.
- In coordination with the CSO’s Communications & Digital Media department, serve as primary spokesperson for the MF and VAE for the media and content for owned channels to maintain and elevate brand reputations and build excitement for MF and VAE’s mission and vision.
- Foster relationship between management and chorus members.
- Attend all performances of MF and VAE.
Reports To: President and CEO of the CSO
Direct Reports: Director of Advancement and Engagement, Director of Choruses, Associate Director of Choruses, Chorus Manager, and Administrative Assistant.
A minimum of seven years of experience in a director or senior-level position with a chorus or performing arts organization is required. Qualified candidates will demonstrate extensive knowledge of choral music, awareness of current trends and best practices in choral and team management, and a keen interest in collaboration to deliver on mission and vision.
The Executive Director will be a collaborative and dedicated leader with strong analytical and problem-solving abilities. A people-centered leader and persuasive communicator, the ED will be comfortable interacting with multiple constituencies and easily adapt to dynamic situations. Resourceful and flexible, the ED will possess excellent organizational and project management skills and demonstrate a commitment to advancing the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Cincinnati May Festival
Founded in 1873, the Cincinnati May Festival is the oldest choral festival in the Western Hemisphere and is distinguished by its unique community-based structure and standard of extraordinary artistic excellence. The annual Festival is anchored by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO). In 2021, 2022 and 2023, May Festival earned BBC Magazine’s distinction as “One of the Best Classical Music Festivals in the US and Canada” and Chorus America recognized the May Festival as a leader in increasing diversity, equality, inclusion and access in the choral world.
The May Festival Chorus has earned acclaim locally, nationally and internationally for its musicality, vast range of repertoire, and sheer power of sound. The Chorus of 130 avocational singers is the core artistic element of the Cincinnati May Festival as well as the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the Cincinnati Pops.
The Cincinnati May Festival and Vocal Arts Ensemble receive administrative support through a shared services agreement with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. By the alignment of resources and expertise, this cooperative management arrangement benefits all organizations.