Position: Director, Kirk Newman Art School
Reports to: Executive Director, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Direct Reports: Registrar, Eight Department Chairs and Coordinators
Founded in 1924, with a vision “that the visual arts are for everyone,” the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (“KIA”) continues to serve its community as a valued cultural resource and has earned international praise for the quality of its collection and presentation of diverse and important artworks. Occupying 72,000 square feet within its Mies van der Rohe-inspired building, the KIA encompasses a two-story lobby gallery, auditorium, classrooms and galleries, a gallery shop featuring artwork by area artists and international artisans, library, offices, and an interactive gallery for children. The KIA holds nearly 5,000 fine artworks in its permanent collection, with an emphasis on 20th-century American art and a significant number of 18th- and 19th-century American works, European works on paper, as well as African, Chinese, Japanese, pre- Columbian, and Oceanic works. Through its 10 galleries, the KIA presents a robust schedule of exhibitions organized by partner institutions from across the nation, original exhibitions exploring the depths of its permanent collection and the diversity of cultures represented in the U.S., as well as juried exhibitions of regional artists of all ages.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Belinda Tate since 2014, the KIA has grown to a $4.2 million operating budget with a strong endowment. Centrally located, the KIA welcomes students and visitors from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and beyond. Highly regarded in the region for its exceptional collection, the KIA reinstalled its American art galleries in 2020, presenting 50% women artists and 40% artists of color in the installation entitled Unveiling American Genius. The KIA’s Joy Light East Asian gallery is the only exhibition space in Southwest Michigan committed to the ongoing presentation of traditional and contemporary arts of China, Japan, and Korea. The KIA’s 10,000-volume art library is also an integral part of the Institute’s programs because it is a lending library for students and the community and hosts a series of book discussions annually. The KIA is one year into a three-year strategic plan.
About the School:
Named for its first full-time instructor and director from 1961 to 1978, the Kirk Newman Art School (“Art School”) has been a beloved community-based center of visual arts instruction since 1931. Today, the Art School reaches 3,000 students of all ages and backgrounds annually through a wide-range of classes, including ceramics, glass, drawing, painting, fiber, jewelry and metals, photography and digital media, printmaking, and sculpture, as well as less-traditional classes like sign-language, yoga and tai chi, and creative writing. The Art School also offers classes and camps for students Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, and Middle and High School. Since 2015, the Art School offers a nine-month post-baccalaureate residency for aspiring artists who want to grow and strengthen their art practice in a supportive community, with access to professional studio facilities and guidance; 11 students are in residence today. Starting Fall 2022, the Art School is offering a “gap year” for recent high school graduates. Qualified students can earn a certificate in Global Creative Studies and earn credits toward a degree at Kalamazoo Valley Community College through this unique nine-month curriculum.
Course materials are often free to students. Scholarships are need-based, and awards range from 50% to 100% of tuition.
About the City:
Kalamazoo is conveniently located in West Michigan, approximately a two-hour drive to Detroit or Chicago either direction. The community boasts three colleges and universities – Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College – and a prodigious healthcare sector. The low cost of living attracts people from around the country, and residents can enjoy all four seasons of the year. The Kalamazoo Promise offers graduates from the Kalamazoo Public Schools who meet the basic requirements up to 100% of tuition and mandatory fees for any in-state public community college or university.
Scope and Responsibilities:
The incoming Director, Kirk Newman Art School (“KNAS Director”) will have the extraordinary opportunity to develop the next phase of the Art School, partnering with the Executive Director of the KIA in envisioning and achieving new levels of impact and relevance. The new KNAS Director will inherit an organization, beloved by its community, with a long legacy of improving lives, and a dedicated team of talented faculty, at a time of immense pent-up demand, record-breaking attendance, and strong finances. This leader will be both the visionary and the executing agent in providing the opportunity to nurture students through education pathways that advance their passions and ultimately transform how they see themselves and interact with the world around them.
The KNAS Director will provide the leadership and direction for all activities at the Art School. This position reports to the Executive Director of the KIA and oversees eight department chairs and coordinators, registrar, and leads approximately 50 to 80 faculty, depending on the semester. The KNAS Director builds and sustains relationships, as well as ensures the sustainability of the school from a financial and mission-related perspective. This role is a key spokesperson for the Art School within the community and advocates art education to various partners and constituents. The next KNAS Director will build upon an enduring legacy and take the Art School to even greater heights.
- Work with the Executive Director of the KIA and School leaders to develop and execute a business plan to achieve the desired growth outcomes of the Art School – financially and programmatically;
- Work with the Executive Director and Advancement team to develop a marketing strategy for the Art School;
- Strategically manage the nearly $900,000 budget for the Art School to continually advance programming and meet the ever-changing needs of the region and state;
- Evaluate existing systems and processes and implement more streamlined and efficient operations to support student success and faculty needs;
- Establish goals, objectives, and priorities for the Art School staff and faculty and collaboratively establish development plans to achieve such goals;
- Recruit, train, and evaluate staff and faculty for the Art School and support them in achieving goals;
- Ensure that all Art School programs exemplify excellence in craft, art and enrichment education, and customer service, and contribute to the learning and overall wellness of students and the community, while providing an operating profit;
- Build and strengthen community, corporate, government, foundation, and institutional partnerships to promote visual arts and enrichment education and increase attendance and participation in all the Art School programs;
- Work with the Executive Director, Advancement, and Finance teams to identify and apply for funding from donors, government agencies, foundations, and corporate and community partners;
- Ensure that all aspects of the Art School align with the values of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access, and facilitate an environment of learning and belonging for people of all backgrounds;
- As a key member of the KIA leadership team, collaborate and contribute to overall, institutional goals.
Key Selection Criteria:
The KNAS Director must balance the artistic and business interests of the Art School with its commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Therefore, the ideal candidate will offer a blend of strong business acuity combined with sensitivity to the needs and priorities of students, artists, and educators. This person must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and at least ten years of professional experience demonstrating increased nonprofit management responsibility most likely gained from museums, higher education, artist residencies, community arts education organizations, or management consulting. An MFA, MBA, or Master of Management or Arts Administration is highly desirable, as is experience teaching or practicing in the arts.
The ideal candidate will also demonstrate, through successful past experience:
- Ability to develop, execute, and assess business plans for arts or education organizations and initiatives;
- Ability to set, control, and report approximately $900,000 or more in operating budgets;
- Ability to streamline operations, evaluate and organize systems, and implement procedures and protocols;
- Ability to partner with other leaders in the Institution and lead teams of staff and volunteers;
- Ability to communicate with the public and articulate and advocate the importance of arts and art education;
- Ability to manage institutional partnerships with area schools, colleges, and universities.
- Ability to think big and creatively about what’s possible, to craft and articulate an inspiring vision, and to motivate others to achieve ambitious goals.
- Passionate about arts education and the transformational impact of art on the lives of community members and the community as a whole.
- Business savvy and entrepreneurial with a demonstrated ability to build and optimize revenue streams.
- A clear communicator with a transparent leadership style, able to authentically reach people where they are.
- An eager and enthusiastic collaborator who proactively seeks partnerships in and out of an organization.
- Strategic, visionary, and a big-picture thinker combined with a willingness to roll up sleeves and get hands dirty.
- High emotional intelligence, the ability to build and maintain trust and exceptional leadership presence.
- Unwavering personal integrity with ethics beyond reproach.
How to Apply:
Please forward your CV/resume and cover letter to Philip DeBoer of DHR Global at with Director, Kirk Newman Art School in the subject line. Any applications on the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts website will be forwarded on appropriately for consideration.