Inspiring audiences with live musical experiences that transcend tradition, the newly renamed Symphony Tacoma (formerly Tacoma Symphony Orchestra) has been a vital part of Tacoma’s cultural landscape for 70 years. Today’s Symphony Tacoma is a metropolitan professional symphony orchestra with more than 80 orchestral musicians and a volunteer chorus of 70 singers. Sarah Ioannides, whom the Los Angeles Times called “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium,” has been Music Director since 2014. Symphony Tacoma performs for an annual audience of nearly 20,000 citizens throughout Washington’s Pierce County and the Greater Puget Sound area.
Symphony Tacoma offers a season of five to six main series classical concerts, pops programs, and annual performances of Handel’s Messiah. These concerts are primarily held in Tacoma’s downtown Broadway Center for the Performing Arts in the historic Pantages Theater and Rialto Theater, where Symphony Tacoma has been one of the primary resident arts organizations for more than 30 years.
Symphony Tacoma’s growing menu of community engagement activities includes Mini Maestros, an interactive series for children ages two through eight that features reduced orchestra and chamber ensembles, and Simply Symphonic, an educational series for fourth and fifth graders that includes a curriculum partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program. In addition, Symphony Tacoma’s principal string musicians offer regular coaching for orchestra students in underserved Tacoma high schools and master classes for the Tacoma Youth Symphony’s senior orchestra.
Deeply committed to its role as one of the hubs of Tacoma’s cultural sector, Symphony Tacoma is dedicated to the belief that the community is made stronger and more vibrant by experiencing great music together. Its Vision 2025: The 2016-2025 Strategic Plan sets forth cornerstones and goals in the three key areas of performance, community, and stewardship. With an annual operating budget of approximately $1.3 million, Symphony Tacoma is governed by an engaged and committed 13-member board of directors and has a staff of five full-time equivalent employees.
Located 30 miles south of Seattle and 140 miles north of Portland, Tacoma is surrounded by Puget Sound to the west and the Cascade Range to the east. In addition to these stunning natural surroundings, six major museums, showcasing some of the world's best collections and unique artwork, line Tacoma's downtown core to form an impressive and distinct district. This district also includes Symphony Tacoma. Arts and culture are a major component of Tacoma’s economy, generating approximately $137 million in economic activity every year according to a 2016 study. With a burgeoning technology and startup community, Tacoma serves as a base for several large companies, including BNY Mellon, Columbia Bank, and Key Bank. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the fourth largest military base in the country employing more than 50,000 people, is located about 10 miles south of the city. The city also has a rich maritime legacy.
Ranked as one of Sunset magazine’s 20 Game-Changing Places to Live, Tacoma offers an affordable lifestyle, with a median home price that is less than half of Seattle’s. A diverse mix of cultures make up Tacoma’s population of more than 211,000 people, of which 41 percent are under the age of 30. The city is home to several of the region’s top-rated universities and colleges, including the University of Washington Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Puget Sound. Tacoma Public Schools often leads the state's 296 districts in piloting new programs and implementing innovative ideas. It is the only district in Washington designated as an Innovative School Zone by the Secretary of Public Instruction.
The Executive Director (ED) of Symphony Tacoma will serve as the chief administrative officer, responsible for the management of the orchestra’s human and financial resources and for leading and/or facilitating all aspects of its operations. Reporting to the board of directors and working in partnership with the Music Director, the ED will provide leadership and vision to ensure Symphony Tacoma achieves its mission and realizes its goals for artistic vibrancy, financial stability, advancement, education, communication, and community service.
Roles and Responsibilities
Governance and Financial Stewardship
Collaborate with the board to ensure strong fiscal health and organizational governance and provide support to best utilize the talents and resources of board members, stimulate involvement, and recruit new members.
Develop and maintain fiscal responsibility for the annual operating budget and financial objectives of Symphony Tacoma and provide the most effective use of financial resources, working closely with the Budget Task Force and the board.
Ensure sound financial management and administrative policies and maintain accurate financial records and monthly reports for board review.
Understand and maintain compliance with best accounting practices, tax filing requirements, and audits.
Initiate ongoing effective communication with the Board President, board of directors, Music Director, staff, musicians, and volunteers.
Advise the board and its committees on matters within the ED’s scope of responsibility to promote the efficient operation of the orchestra and to ensure the delivery to the public of the services outlined in Symphony Tacoma’s annual operating and strategic plans.
Support the board in trustee prospect identification, cultivation, and recruitment.
Assist and provide staff support to board committees to develop and implement their goals and objectives.
Operational and Strategic Planning
Oversee short-term operational and long-range strategic planning and implementation processes.
Collaborate with the Music Director in the development, implementation, and monitoring of Symphony Tacoma’s artistic objectives, including season planning and scheduling, concert program development, and the selection and contracting of guest artists, balancing artistic goals with marketability and financial resources.
Develop new performance opportunities for the orchestra and its ensembles that fulfill Symphony Tacoma’s artistic and community service objectives and maximize earned income opportunities.
Partner with legal counsel and the board to oversee and negotiate contractual matters with guest artists, vendors, venues, strategic partners, the American Federation of Musicians, and others.
Serve as principal spokesperson for Symphony Tacoma to the orchestra, its Players’ Committee, and the local office of the American Federation of Musicians for negotiation, implementation of, and adherence to Symphony Tacoma’s Collective Bargaining Unit.
Direct administrative personnel relations so that the organization is effectively structured and staffed with competent employees.
Ensure that Symphony Tacoma’s legal and ethical employer obligations to its staff are fully met.
Facilitate programs and activities to meaningfully engage volunteers, especially through the activities of Symphony Tacoma’s Associates.
Identify stakeholders, develop strategies, and define how key messages will be delivered to various individuals and institutions to maximize the visibility, brand, and earned and contributed revenues of Symphony Tacoma.
Lead the board and staff in development activities, maintain strong relationships with the funding community, and develop the most effective donor stewardship and cultivation methods.
Take a hands-on leadership role in growing all potential sources of contributed income, including annual fund development, special project fundraising, major gift cultivation, corporate sponsorship, grant writing, and all reporting required to receive state and local government support at maximum levels.
Strategize and oversee implementation of a comprehensive marketing program to achieve earned income goals from subscription and single ticket sales.
Guide and actively advance Symphony Tacoma’s public image by overseeing the creation of consistently attractive, highly polished, and well-designed print and electronic media.
Steward existing partnerships and develop new opportunities to maximize earned income from contracted performances.
Ensure the highest levels of customer service, effective audience interaction, and community engagement.
Community Affairs, Outreach, and Education
Extend opportunities for community outreach, accessibility, and learning that further the mission, vision, programs, and impact of Symphony Tacoma and act as a primary spokesperson of the organization.
Develop appropriate strategic partnerships throughout the community for education and outreach programming.
Communicate the work and artistic mission of the organization to the public through the media and at public speaking engagements, as needed, in a manner that enhances Symphony Tacoma’s reputation and standing in the community, regionally, and nationally.
Be an active participant in the ongoing dialogue between arts organizations, city leaders, public agencies, and the media by participating regularly in relevant gatherings, seminars, and festivals.
Traits and Characteristics
The Symphony Tacoma’s next ED will be an optimistic and resilient leader who is inspired by the organization’s mission, vision, and values and is excited to advance the orchestra as a vibrant and indispensable musical leader and community partner in the region. The ED will be an intellectually curious, versatile, and assertive professional and hands-on manager. An optimistic problem-solver with strong communication skills, this individual will also have the ability to thrive within an organizational culture that values practicality, simplicity, and tradition.
Other key competencies include:
Self-Management and Personal Accountability – Prioritize and complete tasks necessary to meet or exceed the mutually agreed upon expectations of the role while being accountable for personal and professional actions.
Stakeholder Focus– Commit to patron, board member, musician, staff, and volunteer satisfaction, with a high value on multiple stakeholder needs. Anticipate challenges and develop appropriate solutions.
Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – Embrace different points of view constructively, resolve conflicts, and bring cohesion to a wide array of stakeholders while interacting with them in a positive manner, treating them fairly, and listening carefully to what they have to say.
Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred, plus a minimum of five to seven years of increasing responsibility in a senior management role at a performing arts or similar nonprofit organization. Candidates should also possess a strong command of the business of running a performing arts organization, including financial management, staff development, communication skills, and a track record in donor stewardship and the successful solicitation of major gifts. Candidates must also know how to work effectively with a Music Director, board members, staff, musicians, and volunteers and have an avid interest in and/or knowledge of orchestral music or a closely related art form.
Compensation and Benefits
Symphony Tacoma provides competitive compensation for an organization its size and a standard benefits package, including health insurance, paid time off, and holidays, as well as the quality of life offered by the beautiful Puget Sound area.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a letter and resume (electronic submissions preferred) with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments to:
ACG is the leading team of professional management consultants who are personally and passionately committed to the creative industries. We are recognized internationally for our expertise, hands-on approach, and extraordinary results.