Executive Director - Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland, OR

Applications for this position are now closed. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) established in 1989 from the merger of Ballet Oregon and Pacific Ballet Theater. OBT has risen quickly to become one of the prominent regional ballet companies in the U.S. Under Founding Artistic Director James Canfield, a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, OBT developed a unique repertoire and distinctive style. With a firm foundation in classical technique, the company's dance repertory grew to comprise over 80 ballets including evening- length classics, 20th-Century masterpieces, and innovative contemporary works.

In 2003, following a distinguished, 16-year career as a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, Christopher Stowell became OBT’s second Artistic Director. During his tenure, Mr. Stowell added the work of Sir Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch and Christopher Wheeldon to the OBT repertoire, and significantly expanded the number of George Balanchine ballets. He also commissioned new works by renowned contemporary choreographers James Kudelka, Trey McIntyre, Yuri Possokhov, Julia Adam and Nicolo Fonte. Also, Mr. Stowell created ten ballets on OBT’s dancers, including the company’s first full-length production of Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Sleeping Beauty, and Carmen. Following Christopher Stowell’s departure, Anne Mueller served as Interim Artistic Director from December 2012 through June 2013. Mueller had been with OBT since 1996, retiring from the stage in 2011 following a stellar career as a principal dancer. Kevin Irving became OBT's Artistic Director in July 2013. (More on Mr. Irving, below.) Information on OBT may be found on the website: http://www.obt.org/ 


Portland, Oregon was named “One of the Five Best Places to Live” – in the world – by The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jan/20/five-best-places-to-live-in-world). Forbes lists Portland as #33 (of 200) cities in the country best for business and careers. It is a young city, with two- thirds of its population under the age of 45 and a median age of 36.7 years old. Its population is also well educated, with 45%+ having earned bachelor’s degrees or higher. The city’s population of 630,000 anchors a broader metro area approaching 2.4 million people. Cost of living is slightly above the national average and yet highly competitive when compared with other west coast communities. Young, energetic, vibrant, and progressive, Portland is one of the most bicycle and foot-friendly communities in the U.S. Useful information on the community can be found on the following sites: http://www.portlandonline.com/ and http://www.travelportland.com/ 


Kevin Irving, Artistic Director

Kevin Irving began dancing with jazz classes in his hometown dance school (Long Island, New York), and later joined the school and training ensemble of Alvin Ailey. From 1982 to 1985, he danced with The Elisa Monte Dance Company of New York but, at 24, he took a sharp turn toward classical dance and joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (LGBC) in Montréal. Promoted first to soloist and then to principal dancer, Irving became a well-known figure wherever LGBC performed. In 1993, Irving joined Twyla Tharp Dance for a project that included performances at L’Opera de Paris and the PBS television film of In the Upper Room. From 1994 to 2002, Irving was ballet master and associate director with Nacho Duato’s Compañía Nacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain. From 2002 to 2007, he was Artistic Director of The Göteborg Ballet in Sweden. The company, under Irving’s tenure as director, was named the most important dance company in Sweden in Ballet International’s critics’ poll. From 2007 to 2013, he was a frequent guest ballet master with The Royal Danish Ballet and has been a guest teacher with numerous other companies and schools. He has staged ballets by Nacho Duato and Nicolo Fonte on companies such as The Royal Ballet Covent Garden, Nederlands Dans Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and The Australian Ballet, among many others. Irving was also Associate Director at dance company Morphoses (2011–2012), coordinating special initiatives aimed at defining the company’s unique brand and profile in the dance world. In 2010, Irving founded I-DANCE (Inspiring Dance: American Nation Choreographic Exchange), a non-profit organization that has sent teachers and choreographers to dance communities in Central and South America. He was named Artistic Director of OBT in July 2013. 

Board of Trustees

OBT is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of 20 business and community leaders. The Artistic Director, Executive Director and a member of the company also retain seats on Board. The Board Chair is Cary Jackson, who is also chairing the committee for the executive director search. 


OBT has deservedly achieved a position as one of the top-tier arts organizations in Portland. The vibrancy of the city is reflected in its arts institutions and its ballet company. OBT has grown significantly in recent years, increasing its budget by 30% over the past three seasons. OBT presents four productions each year at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts facilities: Keller Auditorium and Newmark Theatre. The Keller, built in 1917 and originally known as the Civic Auditorium, is a 2,992- seat venue. The Newmark Theatre is an intimate 880-seat theater designed to emulate the Edwardian-style theaters of Europe, built in 1997 and located in the heart of downtown. Both venues stage Broadway productions, ballet, operas, and family events. In addition to its annual three-week run of The Nutcracker, OBT presents both full-length and mixed-repertory programs. This year, the company will also offer outdoor performances at Washington Park, a famed City Park and home to the International Rose Test Gardens. Next year, a fifth program of contemporary work, including work by OBT artists, will be presented at Bodyvox Dance Center. As noted above, OBT has a significant commitment to the creation of new works and has commissioned prominent choreographers to create original pieces on its dancers.


There are 22 dancers in the professional company on a 32-week contract. Additionally, four or five apprentices are hired each year; there are no trainees. OBT II, a pre-professional company of twelve dancers (ten women, two men in this season), offers up to 30 performances throughout the community. Additionally, these dancers perform with the professional company when a larger number of artists are needed, such OBT’s recent presentation of Swan Lake. 


School of Oregon Ballet Theatre (SOBT) is the official training ground of Oregon Ballet Theatre. SOBT’s 737 students receive exemplary training from 20 world-class faculty, emphasizing pure classical technique. SOBT offers two locations to provide dance instruction across the Portland metro area.

The Facility

OBT leases a 16,000’ building that houses its offices and studios. There are three large studios, office space, costume shops and storage. There is offsite warehouse storage for sets, props and production equipment. Studios are shared by the professional company and the school. Additionally, there is a satellite school with two studios located in West Linn, a suburb of Portland.


OBT operates on annual budget of $6.5 million, with a contributed/earned ratio of approximately 45/55. In 2015, OBT sold its building near downtown and retired its accumulated debt; and is now entirely debt-free with a cash reserve. Profits from the sale of the building have been set aside and restricted to a future campaign for a permanent home. OBT has 50 full-time employees and over 150 other part-time and seasonal employees including musicians, stage personnel, school faculty and teaching artists. 

Commitment to the Community

OBT’s community engagement and education programs are impressive in their breadth and depth. Their programs include students of all ages and demographics. A wealth of information on these well- developed efforts can be found on the OBT website under the Education/Outreach search tab.


The Executive Director works in a co-CEO relationship with the Artistic Director; both positions report to the Board of Trustees through the Chair. It is, of course, critically important that the individuals in these two positions work in a cohesive and productive manner. The central roles of the Executive Director are as follows: 

• Forge effective and positive working relationships with the Artistic Director and Board of Directors. 

• Lead OBT’s development and fundraising activities in a strategic and proactive manner. 

• Align all human and financial resources in a way that can sustainably realize the strategic and artistic vision for the company. 

• Develop communication strategies and guide the marketing, external messaging, and outreach of OBT, including building its presence and branding. 

• Assure ongoing fiscal discipline by creating and achieving balanced annual operating budgets for OBT. The ED, supported by the AD, develops budgets that will advance the strategic objectives and artistic vision of the organization and its components, including all personnel, Company, School, and educational activities. 

• Forge and maintain important external relationships in the greater Portland community and act as an external voice and advocate of OBT. 

• Work closely with the Board and provide support to their and committees, and task forces. 

• Supervise administrative operations of the School of OBT.

• Manage and motivate the staff team and set the tone for a positive working environment.


The chosen candidate will be someone who is likely to establish strong and productive working partnerships with the Artistic Director and the Board; of course, prior experience with such partnerships would be deemed useful. S/he will also have the following skill sets and experience:

• A successful management career within the professional performing arts community, with preference shown to those who have had such experience in dance. 

• Prior success in fund-raising and in working actively with a Board of Directors. Expanding OBT’s donor pool is a primary objective for the company. 

• A clear knowledge of the ramifications of artistic and budgetary decisions and the need to align them strategically, drawn from experience in budget forecasting and controls sufficient to offer analysis to the Board and staff. 

• Demonstrated ability to motivate and guide the staff in strategic manner. 

• A real appetite for ballet and, as a result, the desire and ability a true advocate for OBT

• A collaborative style to work within a partnership and engage staff, Board, and key donors. 

• A tenacity and drive to help OBT continue to produce at a consistently high level. 

• Very strong social and interpersonal skills in multiple social and business contexts. 


The search for the Executive Director is headed by a twelve-member committee consisting of trustees, dancers and staff, including the Artistic Director and Music Director. The committee is chaired by Cary Jackson. The committee’s desire is to identify a candidate by late spring/early summer, with the new Executive Director on site as soon as possible thereafter. The salary will be competitive with other companies of comparable stature and size. Benefits include the following:

• Paid vacation / holidays

• Flexible Spending Account

• Health, dental, vision, and life insurance policies (employee only)

• A 403(b) plan (no employer match)

• Reserved Parking

Applications should include résumé /CV, cover letter, four professional references and salary history/requirements. Interested candidates, and recommenders of qualified individuals, are invited to contact the consulting firm retained to facilitate this important search:

Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
Attn: David Mallette 

Email only: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject Line: OBT Executive Director Search

Last modified on Thursday, 25 May 2017 09:10