Managing Director - American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), San Francisco, CA

Applications for this position remain open. However, the search committee is reviewing current candidate materials and is unlikely to bring additional individuals into the process.  Any new applicants will be reviewed by the consultant in charge of this search. 

For the past 50 years, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has held a key position in this country’s nonprofit theatrical field.  One of the United States’ most important regional theaters, it also has the unique position of being the only free-standing theater with a fully-accredited MFA acting program, nurturing the next generation of actors, allowing them to work with some of today’s most accomplished artists, and engaging the community as “citizen artists” (“artists making theater to effect social change”). A.C.T.’s performing spaces include the Geary Theater, the Rembe at the Strand Theater, and three smaller venues, the Garret (in the Geary), the Rueff (in the Strand), and the Costume Shop. Innovative programming, actor training, and community engagement define the organization’s mission and its activities.

Since settling in San Francisco in 1967, A.C.T. has been known for artistic risk-taking and commitment to a rich variety of programming.  Legendary productions such as The Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano de Bergerac were televised nationally; it has produced 12 plays by Tom Stoppard, many staged with the playwright’s active participation.  A.C.T. pioneered the commissioning of new American translations of great works of world literature, including Mary Stuart, Hecuba, and A Doll’s House; and its acclaimed 2016 adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns will embark on a tour later this year.  Alongside the work of internationally renowned directors such as Peter Brook, Robert Wilson, and Robert Lepage, A.C.T. has presented important plays by leading contemporary American playwrights such as Anne Washburn, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Annie Baker.  A.C.T. has been recognized with the Tony and Jujamcyn Theater Awards for its artistic achievements and excellence in actor training. A.C.T. continues to engage and serve diverse communities through all of its work, aiming to reflect the energy, innovation, and culture of its home. 

San Francisco is one of the country’s most beautiful cities, and one of the top travel destinations in the world.  The Bay Area, a center of global innovation, is a uniquely diverse and progressive community, and home to a robust arts and cultural community, including the San Francisco Opera, Ballet, and Symphony, 300 theater companies, as well as several world-class museums, and two great universities, Stanford, and the University of California-Berkeley.  The city has also attracted some of the most entrepreneurial and innovative tech companies, including Airbnb, Cisco Systems, Intuit, Square, Lucasfilm, Google, Twitter, Uber, and Salesforce. 


A.C.T. recently announced Pam MacKinnon as its next Artistic Director.  Ms MacKinnon will be only the fourth person to hold the position, following the extraordinary, 25-year tenure of Carey Perloff, who succeeded founder William Ball (1965-86) and Edward Hastings (1986-91).  Pam MacKinnon’s tenure will begin this summer, as Ms Perloff concludes the 2017-18 season in June. 

Pam MacKinnon is a Tony and Drama Desk Award winning director for Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf).  She also garnered Tony and Lucille Lortel nominations along with an Obie Award for excellence in direction for Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park (Broadway, Mark Taper, Playwrights Horizons).  She is currently represented on Broadway with her production of Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman with Uma Thurman. Other directing credits include: The Heidi Chronicles (Broadway); A Delicate Balance (Broadway); Amelie, a New Musical (Berkeley Rep and Broadway); Bruce Norris’ The Qualms (Steppenwolf and Playwrights Horizons); Itamar Moses’ Completeness (SCR and Playwrights Horizons); Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid (MTC).  She is a longstanding interpreter of the plays of Edward Albee.  She is an alumna of the Drama League and the Women’s Project and Lincoln Center Directors Labs.  Pam is the President of the Board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) and after serving five years as Chair of the Board of Clubbed Thumb, a New York theater company dedicated to new American plays, she will serve on their advisory board.

Peter Pastreich has served as A.C.T.’s Executive Director since August 2016, after a 50-year career in orchestra management, including 21 years as Executive Director of San Francisco Symphony.  He has committed to remain at A.C.T. until June 2018; the Board, working with the new Artistic Director, hopes to have a new Managing Director engaged by then.

A.C.T. is governed by a 43-member Board of Trustees led by Chair Kirke Hasson and President Kay Yun and is populated by business and community leaders and artists.  Both the Artistic Director and Managing Director hold ex-officio positions on the Board. 


A.C.T. operates on an annual budget approaching $23 million; it is a LORT A theater employing approximately 800 people annually.  The 2017-18 season consists of eight productions, six in The Geary and two in The Strand, each with a four-to-eight week run, as well as the “New Strands Festival” of contemporary work in development, and a large number of productions by A.C.T.’s MFA Program and the Young Conservatory. 

The Geary Theater, a beautiful 1040-seat Beaux Arts–style venue in the heart of the downtown Union Square district, built in 1910 and a San Francisco institution for over a century, is host to the largest portion of A.C.T.’s annual productions.  Significantly damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, it was elegantly renovated with a special campaign of $27.5 million raised, including $16 million from the community and $11.5 million from FEMA.

In 2015, A.C.T. opened the Strand, an award-winning and elegantly renovated former movie house, as an important second space with a 283-seat theater (the Rembe), a 120-seat multi-use space (the Rueff), and a spacious lobby with a café.  The Strand is used to present main stage productions as well as work by students in the MFA Program, the Young Conservatory (professional training for late primary through high school students), and A.C.T.’s expansive arts education and community programs.  It is also used by other theater groups and rented for events.

A.C.T.’s Conservatory, considered one of the top five graduate acting programs in the U.S., offers a three-year program to prepare fully trained actors who are also “citizen artists,” capable of harnessing their skills and passion as tools of change.  Alumni of this prestigious program include Denzel Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Benjamin Bratt, and Elizabeth Banks.  A.C.T.'s Conservatory facility includes ten studios and classrooms.  A.C.T. is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. 

Beyond its training of professional actors, A.C.T. is committed to the young people and adults in the San Francisco community.  Education programs include student matinees, year-long school residencies, community engagement including intensive work with under-served and at-risk high school students, teacher professional development, the Young Conservatory, Studio A.C.T. (adult acting training), the “Will on Wheels” program that brings Shakespeare to nearly two dozen Bay Area schools, the Summer Training Congress, the SF Semester (a program for undergraduates in residence at A.C.T.), and various workshops.  These programs serve nearly 30,000 people, many in communities that are lower income and largely of color. 


The next Managing Director will join an organization with a remarkable foundation and credibility based on its hard-earned artistic and institutional accomplishments.  Among the opportunities are:

• Creating a partnership with Pam MacKinnon to lead one of America’s leading theaters. 

• Aligning, strengthening, and further integrating its three core components of innovative programming, actor training, and community engagement.

• Building on the leadership position that A.C.T. currently holds in the professional theater and training fields;

• Utilizing the institution’s position as a thought leader and active public citizen of the Bay area to continue to assert the importance of the arts to the communities of the region;

• Finding the best and most productive use of the still new Strand Theater; and

• Continuing A.C.T.’S leadership in new work development, including new fundraising strategies and exploration of new partnership and co-production models.

Along with these opportunities, there are notable challenges that the next Managing Director must embrace in concert with the Artistic Director:

• Maintaining the MFA program in a highly competitive training environment; 

• Programming in a way that will rebuild the gradual loss of season subscribers that A.C.T., like many performing arts institutions, has experienced; and

• Responding to the organization’s space needs in an increasingly expensive real estate market.

More information can be found on A.C.T.’s website:


The Managing Director and Artistic Director will be expected to form a co-equal working relationship, in which both report to the Board through its Chair and President.  Peter Pastreich, A.C.T.’s Executive Director, will be instrumental in the transition to the new artistic and executive leadership. 

The co-leaders of A.C.T., in partnership with the Board, are expected to identify the company’s most important objectives and to align resources appropriately to achieve those objectives.  The Managing Director leads all administrative operations in the areas of finance, fund raising, audience development and communications, education, and human resources.  The E.D. has six direct reports, including the General Manager, Director of Education, Director of Finance, Director of Development, HR Director, and Director of Marketing.  The Conservatory Director has a dual report to both the Artistic Director and the Managing Director. 


• To forge a productive working relationship with the Artistic Director and the Board of Trustees. 

• To serve as a spokesperson of the institution, including taking part in selective cultivation of major donors, as well as maintaining and creating new external relationships in support of A.C.T., individual and institutional donors, local/regional/state governmental and arts agencies, et al. 

• To oversee the effective execution of earned and contributed revenue streams in concert with the professional and lay leadership of A.C.T.

• To work closely with the Conservatory Director to ensure the training arm of A.C.T. remains vital.  

• To make A.C.T. one of the most diverse theaters in America establishing an E.D.I. strategy and implementation program to follow. 

• To build and manage the annual budget process toward the goal of a balanced budget.

• To explore long-term real estate solutions for A.C.T.'s offices and studios.

• To collaborate with the Board and Artistic Director on updating the vision and long-term strategy for A.C.T.

• To oversee other administrative and operational functions of A.C.T., creating a culture of productivity, inclusivity, creativity, and innovation.  


Ideally, the successful candidate for this role will possess these skills and experience: 

• A deep commitment to the performing arts, evidenced by prior roles in organizations of significant (if not comparable) size and/or scope.  Although someone with a theater background is preferred, the search committee has indicated an openness to reviewing credentials of professionals from other disciplines who understand large-scale production.

• Top organizational leadership experience of at least three to five years is preferred, with demonstrable experience and a clear understanding of a collaborative working relationship with an artistic leader.

• Significant experience with all aspects of nonprofit management, including a proven track-record of effectively working with a board of trustees.

• Exceptional communication skills – both speaking and writing – taking satisfaction in serving as an ambassador in a host of business and social settings.

• Background in all areas of revenue streams, including audience development and fund-raising, with a demonstrated ability to serve as key member of contributed revenue efforts. 

• Understanding of, experience with and desire to deploy institutional marketing to better convey the A.C.T. brand.

• A bachelor’s degree. 

The following personal attributes will also be considered important to the Committee:

• Knowledge of theatrical literature and the theater.

• A leadership style with a collaborative spirit.

• Delight at the prospect of fulfilling A.C.T.’s mission and values; this includes a demonstrable belief in training and education, professional theater producing and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

• A desire to engage with the variety of A.C.T.’s communities and a lively curiosity about people and their concerns.

• The interest and the capability to build relationships with major donors and community leaders.

• Deeply mission driven and aligned with the values espoused at A.C.T.


The salary will be competitive with other companies of comparable stature and size.  Benefits will include the following: 

• Medical/dental/life/disability/vision insurance plans (these are largely employer funded);

• Health reimbursement account; 

• Retirement plan with employer contribution and match; 

• Paid vacation, holidays, sick leave, and personal days; and

• Travel budget for conferences (TCG, LORT, etc.).


The Search Committee, comprised of trustees and staff, hopes to make its final decision by spring of 2018, with the new Managing Director onsite by summer of 2018. The start date for full-time employment will be as soon as possible thereafter.


Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to submit in complete confidence a cover letter, resume, and four professional references to the consulting firm retained to conduct the search.  The letter of no more than 1½ pages should describe why this post and theater is attractive to the applicant and what about them and their work makes them a potentially strong contributor as a leader of A.C.T. Application materials should be sent electronically – Word or PDF only, please – with the applicant’s name included as part of each file name:

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:  A.C.T. MD Search

A.C.T. very much encourages applications from women and from people of color.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 April 2018 22:58