Director (Curation & Artistic Programs)- Soho Rep
New York City, New York, United States
Founded in 1975, Soho Rep provides radical theater makers with productions of the highest caliber and tailor-made development at key junctures in their artistic practice. The organization elevates artists as thought leaders and citizens who change the field and society. Artistic autonomy is paramount at Soho Rep; the organization encourages an unmediated connection between artists and audiences to create a springboard for transformation and rich civic life beyond the walls of its theater.
Soho Rep is committed to the following Core Values:
§We re-center the narratives of people who are underrepresented in our field. We interrogate the history and form of Theater and ask why and for whom Theater exists.
§We prioritize open access to our work. We keep tickets affordable, build two-way coalitions and partnerships across New York City, and continually invite new audiences to our shows.
§The sustainability of Soho Rep is directly tied to the individuals at the heart of our theater. We provide holistic support and fair pay. We are clear-sighted about our organizational capacity, which generates a more reasonable workload for all. We make ambitious and destabilizing theater, which demands even greater diligence to create a nurturing and supportive environment.
In 2019, Soho Rep established a three-way Co-Directorship, shared leadership model that redistributes power, is more collaborative, and gives equal weight to divergent perspectives. In 2023, Soho Rep Directors Sarah Benson and Meropi Peponides will step down, making way for two new artistic leaders. Director Cynthia Flowers will continue to partner with the two new incoming Directors. The 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 seasons have been programmed by the current Co-Director team to help ensure a thorough and thoughtful transition process.
Located in Lower Manhattan, at its intimate 65-seat theater, critics have consistently heralded the Off-Broadway company as a go-to theater destination for new and original works. New York Magazine said of the company, “this indispensable theater offers more excitement per chair than any space in town.” Time Out New York called Soho Rep “the best theater in NYC,“ and The New York Times described Soho Rep as "form-twisting, boundary-breaking, and acclaimed,” adding that, “The downtown powerhouse…regularly outclasses the work done on many of the city’s larger stages.” The Village Voice named Soho Rep the “Best Off-Broadway Theater Company,” and the company was listed in Travel Magazine’s “10 Essential Off-Broadway Theaters.”
Soho Rep has also been honored with a Drama Desk Award for Sustained Achievement. Over the last decade, Soho Rep productions have garnered 21 OBIE Awards; the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical; 13 Drama Desk nominations; two Kesselring Awards; The New York Times Outstanding Playwriting Award for Dan LeFranc’s Sixty Miles To Silverlake; and a special citation in The New York Drama Critics’ Circle’s 2012-13 awards. Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview, commissioned by Soho Rep and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In recent years, Soho Rep has presented plays by established and emerging theater artists such as David Adjmi, César Alvarez, Zawe Ashton, Annie Baker, Alice Birch, Christopher Chen, Jackie Sibblies Drury, debbie tucker green, Aleshea Harris, Lucas Hnath, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Daniel Alexander Jones, Hansol Jung, Richard Maxwell, Julia Mounsey, Sarah Kane, Young Jean Lee, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Kate Tarker, Mara Vélez Meléndez, and Anne Washburn and directors Saheem Ali, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Will Davis, Leah C. Gardiner, Taibi Magar, David Mendizábal, Rebecca Taichman, Eric Ting, Peter Mills Weiss, Dustin Wills, and Whitney White.
The 2022-23 season includes three world premiere commissions: Kate Tarker’s Montag, Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s Public Obscenities, and Jillian Walker’s The Whitney Album. Additionally, a small cohort of commissioned artists whose work is in development will be in conversation with new leadership. In addition to its season of three productions, Soho Rep’s artistic programs include: The Writer Director Lab, Studio, and Project Number One.
Meaningful relationships with many emerging artists begin in the Writer Director Lab which was first established in 1998. The Lab is currently co-chaired by William Burke and Jackie Sibblies Drury. Under the guidance of these mentors, four collaborative teams meet bi-weekly and generate a new play over a 12-month period. Anyone can apply to the Lab, and the Lab culminates in presentations at Soho Rep that are free and open to the public.
In its Studio program, Soho Rep commissions new plays with an upfront commitment to production. Artists are provided with workshops based on whatever is most vital to them as they bring their shows to production-level readiness. In recent seasons over 80% of Soho Rep productions were commissioned or developed in the Studio, including Wolf Play, Fairview, Is God Is, Futurity, 10 Out of 12, and more. Playwrights currently developing work through the Studio include Garrett Allen, Alice Birch, Becca Blackwell, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins & Carmelita Tropicana, Raja Feather Kelly, Narcissister, Radical Evolution, and Jillian Walker.
Project Number One was initially launched in 2020 as a job creation program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and record unemployment in the theater field. It was also an experiment in prioritizing living wages for artists, even when faced with extraordinary challenges. During this time of cultural and civic recovery, Project Number One is evolving to include: ongoing staff positions for artists, budget transparency, and significant increases to production fees and salaries that are well beyond expected union minimums.
Soho Rep’s staff includes three Directors, a Director of Development and Marketing, a Production Manager, an Associate Producer, a Marketing Manager, a Development Assistant, two Project Number One Artists on staff, a part-time Facilities Manager, and two Writer Director Lab Co-Chairs, along with dozens of part-time, production contract, and commissioned theater makers.
The Soho Rep board has formed a search committee-co-chaired by Board Chair Victoria Meakin and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, including authors and board members James Gleick and Claudia Rankine, and Soho Rep Director Cynthia Flowers.
Soho Rep is currently led by the three Directors, Sarah Benson, Cynthia Flowers, and Meropi Peponides and governed by a 19-member Board. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, Soho Rep reported revenue of $2.80M, with approximately $2.56M from contributions and grants and $240K from program services. Total expenses were $2.77M.
Sources: sohorep.org; projects.propublica.org
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) serves as member of Soho Rep’s three-person leadership team. Working alongside the Director (Organizational Strategy and Advancement) and the Director (Artistic Producing), the Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) collaborates with the board and other organizational leaders to determine the strategy and direction for the theater. This Director will be a practicing artist, a radical theater maker with a strong artistic vision, aesthetic, and point of view (e.g., director, playwright, actor, designer) who generates work for Soho Rep in a peer-to-peer relationship with its community of artists. In close collaboration with the Director (Artistic Producing), the Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) provides overall leadership in season planning, artistic programs (Project Number One and the Writer Director Lab), and creative team selection. Together, the three Directors will devise a transparent, consensus-driven decision-making model that ensures collaboration across all areas of Soho Rep’s artistic programs, productions, organizational strategy, and advancement.
Note: Descriptors listed in the position description (“Curation and Artistic Programs,” “Artistic Producing,” and “Organizational Strategy and Advancement”) are included solely for the purpose clarifying roles and responsibilities during the search process. Soho Rep’s next leadership team will all hold the title of “Director.”
Role and Responsibilities
Curation and Artistic Programs
Share the leadership responsibilities of season planning (productions and Studio commissions) in close collaboration with Director (Artistic Producing).
Lead the development/conceptualization and execution of the Writer Director Lab and Project Number One.
Serve regularly as a lead artist on Soho Rep productions (i.e., as director, designer, actor, playwright) and treat Soho Rep as a primary creative home.
Guide the play curation process (i.e., seeing work, reading plays, tracking trends in the field, meeting new and established writers, directors, designers, etc. who might be exciting Soho Rep collaborators).
Provide artistic feedback to lead artists who are working on productions, commissions, Studio workshops, and other artistic programs.
Support lead artists in assembling creative teams, defining creative priorities, and implementing tailor-made development processes with the Director (Artistic Producing).
Maintain relationships with strategic partners such as potential transfer partners, co-producers, commercial producers, etc.
Synthesize internal and external organizational learning (show-to-show, season-to-season) to evaluate, in dialogue with the other Directors and artistic community, how Soho Rep is fulfilling its mission with a specific and distinctive vision.
Operations, Administration, and Board Relations
Take a leadership role in visioning and executing Soho Rep’s impending capital project for a long-term, sustainable home with the board and other Soho Rep Directors.
Oversee artistic-related expenditures and establish methods of maintaining budget control, including developing overall artistic budget and managing Project Number One and Writer Director Lab budgets in collaboration with other Soho Rep Directors.
Manage the Associate Producer and Production Manager on a project basis (Writer Director Lab, Project Number One) and manage Project Number One Artists on Staff.
Problem-solve significant creative or personal conflicts that arise on productions, programs, or among staff.
Attend all Executive and full board meetings as a member of the leadership team, including Board Committee meetings as may sometimes be required.
Audience Engagement and Fundraising
Communicate with a range of stakeholders, artists, staff, donors, board members, press, and audiences about Soho Rep’s work.
Brainstorm and provide feedback, with other Directors, on the design and tone of communications, marketing materials, and website to ensure Soho Rep artistic aesthetic is accurately and consistently represented and Soho Rep’s core value of “unmediated connection between artists and audiences to create a springboard for transformation and rich civic life beyond the walls of the theater” is maintained.
Establish, with other Soho Rep Directors, positive and productive relationships with board members and donors, educating patrons about the work, and fostering curiosity, rigor, and generosity.
Participate in grant writing, ask meetings, and cultivation events.
Take an active role in cultivating relationships with centers of influence within the city, state, and region in anticipation of future capital campaign.
Traits and Characteristics
The Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) will be a values-driven, visionary collaborator. This person will be in community and peer-to-peer relationships with the artists Soho Rep is producing. The Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) will be excited to make their work in a vibrant and ultra-supportive environment where they can take risks and foreground process in a way that is rarely possible in the field at large. This is an artist who is interested in the work of other artists, in addition to their own work. The Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) will be a person who works to counter damaging mythologies about the artist such as “the show must go on” and “the starving artist.” They will be excited to live in an abstract, imagined space where in collaboration with the other Directors, they can dream things into existence that don’t currently exist. Their personal measure of artistic success will not be defined by the power structures of the day. They will see leadership of Soho Rep as a destination in and of itself. The Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) will have the ability, experience, and commitment to collaborate with individuals and teams that are mixed across lines of difference such as race, gender-identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, class, and immigrant status.
Artists with curatorial and leadership experience are encouraged to apply. Qualified candidates must have a significant body of artistic work and possess the ability to convey artistic vision and demonstrate a wide knowledge of radical theater makers expanding form and genre. A network of existing relationships with artists in New York’s downtown theater community, nationally, and internationally is preferred. The Director (Curation and Artistic Programs) must live in commuting-distance of New York City and must make Soho Rep their primary professional focus, even if they pursue an independent artistic practice. Proven experience in championing and implementing inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, anti-bias, anti-racism, and anti-oppressive collaboration methodologies is required. Experience in fundraising is preferred (if not, the willingness to learn and engage with donors and funding organizations). The position requires flexible work hours and days reflective of the dynamic schedule of a theater. Candidates with currently atypical paths toward artistic leadership are strongly encouraged to apply (e.g., freelance directors, dramaturgs, independent producers, writers, designers, actors, visual artists, etc.). A commitment to and belief in the value of the shared leadership model is essential.
Compensation and Benefits
The Soho Rep provides a competitive compensation package with a salary range between $110,000 and $125,000 and offers a generous benefits package including employer-paid health insurance; dental and vision; life insurance; and paid time off.