Director of Marketing & Communications
For over 40 years, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has been a cultural leader in Chicago and model for theatre companies in the United States and around the world. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, the Steppenwolf ensemble has grown to 51 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of award-winning actors, directors and playwrights. With a reputation for acting brilliance and a commitment to producing the best new American playwrights, Steppenwolf has inspired generations of theatre audiences and has long been a benchmark for theatre excellence.
With a nationally recognized brand, Steppenwolf is lauded nationally as a perennial leader in audience development efforts. Through the support of the Wallace Foundation’s Excellence in Arts Participation and then the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative, and with funding from the Doris Duke Foundation, Steppenwolf has created audience loyalty and retention programs, as well as programs to attract millennials and, more recently, GenX audience members. Rooted in research and a deep understanding of our audience’s needs and desires, Steppenwolf’s audience engagement and loyalty programs are hallmarks of Steppenwolf’s innovative audience development work.
Recognizing that the ensemble is Steppenwolf’s most singular asset, Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz, have established institutional priorities that are rooted in increasing ensemble participation and working with younger artists with a diversity of voice. They are leading a bold vision to transform the traditional experience of seeing a play at Steppenwolf, enhancing the role that Steppenwolf plays in the lives of its artists, its audience and our Chicago community.
In support of this vision, Steppenwolf recently launched a strategy to become a radically inclusive theatre across artists, audiences, staff and board, as it relates to race, gender identity, class, age, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ+ status, and/or disability. The organization has worked with Enrich Chicago, the League of Chicago Theatres, and ArtEquity on this work. There are various initiatives across the organization which create a multilayered approach to accomplishing this goal.
Steppenwolf is also undertaking a $73 million multi-phase facilities expansion and renovation that will create a launching pad for the next 25 years of Steppenwolf’s life. The first phase of the expansion opened in June 2016 with the multi-genre performance series, LookOut, in the 1700 Theatre, Steppenwolf’s new 80-seat cabaret style theater, and its new café & bar, Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, a creative space to meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. The next phases will create a new Arts and Education Center, a signature architectural destination for the city with a 400-seat in-the-round theatre and an education and rehearsal floor providing dedicated space for Steppenwolf’s extensive education and artistic development programs, and renovations to its current 515-seat theater that addresses artist and audience upgrades after 25-years of usage. This facilities expansion, driven by programmatic need, will allow Steppenwolf to advance its artistic vision into the future.
Steppenwolf reaches 200,000 audience members annually and produces almost 600 performances a year across three theatres: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. The keystone of Steppenwolf’s programming features a seven-play main stage series devoted to the work of its ensemble that is in the majority comprised of new plays. In addition, Steppenwolf is the only major Chicago theatre creating professional plays specifically for high school youth attended by 17,000 students and families from schools and communities across the Chicagoland area. Steppenwolf also produces LookOut, a multi-genre performance series, and hosts some of Chicago’s hottest storefront theatres in its Visiting Companies program. Steppenwolf is governed by a 60-member Board of Trustees and annually employs 158 staff (96 full-time, 62 part-time) and more than 500 actors, designers, and technicians. The annual operating budget for 2017/18 is $16.5 million.
Position and Responsibilities:
The Director of Marketing and Communications oversees all aspects of audience development and retention, brand management, earned ticket sales and box office services. Reporting to the Executive Director, serving as a member of Steppenwolf’s senior management team and working closely with both the Artistic Director, Ensemble and the Board of Trustees, the Director of Marketing and Communications leads a sophisticated and customer-centric team of eighteen full-time and more than twenty part-time staff which creates and executes strategies and tactics to meet Steppenwolf’s institutional goals.
In addition to overseeing the strategy, planning and implementation of all marketing, public relations and sales programs to earn up to $7 million in memberships and single ticket sales annually, the Director of Marketing and Communications will work with the Marketing, Communications and Audience Services teams to develop innovative and leading-edge audience development and retention initiatives which will ensure Steppenwolf has an audience as diverse as the programming on its stages. Further, it is the goal of the institution and the responsibility of the Director of Marketing and Communications to help launch Steppenwolf into the next 25 years of its dynamic life, and to do so with the same vigor, innovative spirit and ambition as our founders did in 1975.
The Director of Marketing and Communications will focus on growing new audiences while retaining and deepening relationships with current audiences, by leading Steppenwolf to the forefront of digital and new media marketing and engagement efforts. Further, the Director of Marketing and Communications will work to elevate the brand of Steppenwolf within the conscious mind of our city and our nation. With two major milestones on the horizon, including the expansion of Steppenwolf’s campus and Steppenwolf’s 50th anniversary (a mere 7 years from now), the Director of Marketing and Communications will be integral to the planning for the celebration of these two major events, as well as strategically preparing the public for the new building and the newly expanded vision of who Steppenwolf is in Chicago.
Essential Functions include (but are not limited to):
- Collaborating regularly with the Executive Director and Artistic Director, mastermind and supervise the planning and implementation of all marketing, public relations, and sales programs to raise nearly $7 million in earned income through memberships and single ticket sales annually.
- Supervise the Steppenwolf’s sales projections and corresponding pricing and inventory strategies to maximize revenue and motivate sales team while maintaining fiscal health of annual operation.
- Through the application of learning cycles (design programs, research, try, assess results and make improvements, research, try, assess results, etc) create and grow a sustainable audience base that reflects the diversity of Chicago.
- Increase the public profile and interest in Steppenwolf both locally, nationally and internationally, including having the pulse on Steppenwolf’s brand in all major markets.
- Create and execute innovative stakeholder communications strategies to educate and inform current supporters about activities and accomplishments.
- Support the development of community engagement and access initiatives of the theatre.
- Manage annual expense budgets of $2.9 million to run all marketing, publicity, sales (including box office), media and graphic design efforts and operations.
- Cultivate a risk-taking work environment that enables innovation and growth in new technology and marketing practices to ensure Steppenwolf’s vitality.
- Mobilize the communications team to “get the plan off the page” with efficiency and flexibility – measuring results and adjusting the plan to reach aggressive goals.
- Work alongside other Senior Management Team members as a strategic thought leader on short and long-term organizational issues.
- Collaborate with various internal departments to ensure that the patrons’ experience of the theater is welcoming, kind and comfortable.
- Collaborate with the Development Department to integrate organizational strategy and customer relationship management in marketing and fundraising efforts.
- Serve as staff liaison to the Marketing Committee of the Board.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards— have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multigenre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.
Compensation is competitive with prevailing compensation for similar positions within the non-profit performing arts industry. Excellent benefit package offered, including medical, dental, vision insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, employee assistance program, vacation pay, paid sick leave, personal days and 401(k) retirement program.
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Steppenwolf Theatre Company is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Steppenwolf complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.
We strongly encourage applications from people of color and members of underrepresented groups.