Employment Opportunities


Washington Performing Arts employment decisions are made based on the business needs of the organization and qualification of the applicants and employees. It is the policy of Washington Performing Arts to comply with all laws regarding equal employment opportunity for all employees and job applicants. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission, access or employment. In addition, the District of Columbia adds protection for marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation, or political affiliation.


• Director of External Relations

View Job Description

• Title: Director of External Relations (new position)

• Department: External Relations

• Status FSLA: Exempt

• Title of Immediate Supervisor: President & CEO


About Washington Performing Arts

Washington Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.) is one of the largest and most dynamic arts presenters in the United States. Our 2014/15 season includes over 55 performances at venues throughout greater Washington and featuring artists from the worlds of classical music, jazz, dance, world music, and the spoken word. Our renowned and varied education programs annually impact the lives of thousands of students and adults in all corners of the community. Washington Performing Arts was the recipient of the 2012 National Medal of Arts and the 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts.

For more information, please see our website at www.WashingtonPerformingArts.org.

Summary of position:

Washington Performing Arts is seeking a dynamic, innovative colleague to lead the External Relations Department. Part of a senior management team of eight, the Director shares responsibility for building strategies that ensure Washington Performing Arts’ sustained role as a leading force in the local and national arts landscape. The ideal candidate – with strong management skills and experience – will also be a creative thinker, culturally omnivorous, insatiably curious, effective in working across departments and building partnerships within and outside the organization, comfortable engaging with varied constituencies, committed to the sustained cultivation of audience members and donors alike, and ultimately a compelling ambassador for Washington Performing Arts.

This position presents an exciting challenge to the right professional. Having successfully launched a re-branding effort in the spring, Washington Performing Arts now seeks a dynamic leader to help us reach a new level of public recognition. Thoughtful planning and collaboration, and the ability to execute specific steps through disciplined, strong management are essential.

Specifically, the Director focuses upon increasing public awareness of and participation in our programs, public awareness and support for Washington Performing Arts (brand, programs, services), thereby enhancing visibility and having a measureable impact upon ticket sales, fundraising, and in generating new sources of revenue). Accordingly, the Director conceives, develops, and implements strategic communications, public relations, marketing, and external relations and leads a team of ten full and part-time marketing, communications, and box office colleagues in attaining department goals. The Director will equally prioritize and balance institutional branding/communications, season/event marketing and promotion, and visibility initiatives for educational programs; accordingly, the Director will work closely with Programming and Education department colleagues. With a view towards growing support, reach, and participation for Washington Performing Arts programs, the Director of External Relations works in close partnership with the Director of Development and Chair of the External Relations Committee of the Board of Directors and reports to the President and CEO.

Experience & qualities sought
  • Multi-year anniversary planning & implementation

  • Responsibility for conceiving and executing a comprehensive marketing and communications plan

  • Experience in fundraising from corporate, foundation, individual supporters

  • Innovation, entrepreneurial mindset

  • Management of diverse staff and operational functions

  • 10+ years senior management roles at varied organizations

  • Spearheading strategic planning initiatives with clear goals

  • Superb writing skills, tweet-length to long-form

  • Brand management and development

  • Technology platforms used throughout arts field, including experience with Tessitura, and social media

  • Awareness of best practices in marketing and active engagement in arts industry initiatives related to brand, communications, audience development

  • Working in a competitive/urban market environment

  • Managing expenses/revenue to budget

  • Working with boards of directors, varied members of the public, press, industry

To Apply:

Submit (by email) letter of interest, resume, and three (provisional) references by August 5 to Rebecca Talisman at rtalisman@washingtonperformingarts.org

Download Job Description


• Assistant Director, Major Gifts

View Job Description

• Position: Assistant Director, Major Gifts.

• Department: Development

• Status FSLA: Exempt

• Reports to: Director of Development

Position Description:

The Assistant Director, Major Gifts, is a newly created position with a primary goal of expanding the individual donor support base of Washington Performing Arts. Reporting to the Director of Development, this position serves as a front-line solicitor of donors and prospects with capacity to contribute $5,000 or more to the annual fund, special events, and artistic and education initiatives. The position will manage a portfolio of current and prospective major donors, and will be expected to have daily interaction with donors and prospects, including at Washington Performing Arts performances and events.

While this position will have administrative responsibilities, its primary focus is to interact with donors and prospects toward a goal of soliciting their support. It is expected that, over time, this position will spend an increasing amount of time outside of the office on donor visits.


Portfolio Management and Solicitation Activities

  • In consultation with the Director of Development, assemble a portfolio of between 100-150 current major donor accounts and accounts identified to have the capacity to become major donors.

  • Develop strategies to cultivate and solicit each account, using the Tessitura database to track, document, and report on all activities.

  • Provide support in managing the portfolios and solicitation activities of the President & CEO, Chairman, Director of Development, and select Board members.

Prospect Research:

  • Serve as the Development Department lead on prospect research activities, including the staffing of regular meetings to review prospects and assign to portfolios.

  • Provide guidance to Development staff and interns assisting with research activities.

  • Ensure that prospect research activity is being properly documented in the Tessitura database.

Special Initiatives

  • Assist the Director of Development and other staff with special fundraising campaigns and initiatives as assigned. These may include dedicated campaigns for the 50th Anniversary Season, Mars Urban Arts Initiative, and Lawyer’s Committee, among others.

Event Coordination

  • Work closely with appropriate Development staff on the scheduling, planning, and execution of donor cultivation and benefit events, including the Annual Gala.


  • Minimum Bachelor's degree required.

  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in a development office, with a minimum of 2 years of demonstrable experience cultivating and soliciting donations of $5,000 or more.

  • Strategic, creative, curious, and organized thinker who is enthusiastic about and committed to developing new relationships.

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

  • Good judgment and initiative; handles sensitive data with discretion.

  • Maturity and composure, especially under pressure.

  • Experience with prospect research or working with a prospect researcher is desirable.

  • Knowledge of or interest in the performing arts is highly desirable.

  • Available and willing to work outside of regular business hours, including early morning, evening, and weekend hours.

  • Experience with Microsoft Office required, as is experience with Tessitura or other fundraising software.

To Apply:

Please email a cover letter and resume to Mitch Bassion, Director of Development, at mbassion@washingtonperformingarts.org. No phone calls please.

Download Job Description