International Festival of Arts & Ideas - Director of Programming & Community Impact

International Festival of Arts & Ideas - Director of Programming & Community Impact

CATEGORY: Administrative

Boston, MA 02115


Lauren Foster

Job Details



The International Festival of Arts & Ideas (Festival) celebrates and builds community, engages with vital issues, and promotes the arts. Each year, the Festival highlights the City of New Haven’s diverse and culturally rich community with events featuring world-class artists, thinkers, and leaders. Its additional programs include the annual Visionary Leadership Award and educational opportunities like the High School Fellows Program. The Festival was established in 1996 by Anne Calabresi, Jean M. Handley, and Roslyn Meyer, who envisioned an annual celebration in New Haven—a city steeped in a rich array of cultural and educational traditions—distinguished from other arts festivals by its fusion of the arts with events centered on sharing ideas.

In the Festival's first 24 years, it activated indoor and outdoor spaces throughout New Haven with live performances and lively conversations for hundreds of thousands of people. The digital screen became the stage in 2020, with the Festival successfully shifting its programming to an online format. The Festival officially concluded its 25th anniversary season on June 27, 2020, welcoming more than 120,000 virtual audience members from around the world over a three-month period. It hosted international visitors from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. All programming was presented free of charge with the exception of the KeyBank Food Series and Arts on Call, raising more than $35,000 and $10,000 respectively, all of which went directly to the participating local businesses and artists. The Festival's future will build on the best of both of these formats, centering access, community investment, and artistic excellence in both live and digital forms.

The Ideas programming was presented in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional leadership support of Whitney Center and media sponsor CT Public. Executive Director of Connecticut Humanities Jason Mancini said, "In the midst of a global pandemic, Festival organizers thoughtfully and effectively shifted all programming to online portals and expanded access to new audiences. ‘Democracy: We the People’ brought together ideas and experiences from diverse voices and was responsive to long-term trends as much as real-time events that affect all of our citizens and communities." Virtual artistic offerings included the episodic video series More or Less I Am, inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” and created by Compagnia de’ Colombari (which was also streamed for inmates on Rikers Island); the Activist Songbook project, created by Aaron Jafferis and Byron Au Yong; Keigwin + Company’s Let’s Make a Dance workshop; and presentations by the Yale-China Fellowship program.

Rounding out the Festival’s nearly 200 events and 265 performances were the KeyBank Food Series, which brought New Haven chefs and mixologists into participants’ homes via Zoom; virtual Box City, in which children of all ages helped create a visionary recyclable model city of the future; a new Dinner Stories series; NEA Big Read and Juneteenth programs; and self-guided and virtual bike and walking tours. The majority of the 2020 virtual programming, including all Ideas events and content from previous years, is archived on the Festival’s website.

Nearly 1,500 New Haven residents enjoyed live, socially distant outdoor performances by local performing artists through the Arts on Call program, presented with support from the Elizabethan Club of Yale University and modeled after Sidewalk Serenades, a program created in March 2020 by Creative Alliance in Baltimore. In partnership with Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center and with funding from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, the Festival also sponsored a series of Arts on Call performances for health care, emergency services, and other frontline workers in appreciation of their efforts in supporting and protecting the New Haven community.

The Festival is governed by a 32-member board of directors, led by Chair Gordon Geballe. Shelley Quiala became Executive Director in August 2020 and Co-Directors Liz Fisher and Tom Griggs will each retire later this year. The Festival has a year-round staff of 12 full-time employees and up to 160 seasonal contractors. For the hybrid online 2020 Festival year, total program expenses were $1.1 million of the overall $2.2 million operating budget. Its live 2021 Festival year is budgeted at total program expenses of $1.7 million of the overall $2.8 million operating budget.


The Quinnipiac are the Indigenous inhabitants along the Atlantic shoreline of what is now New Haven, Connecticut. Incorporated in 1638 as one of the first planned cities in America, New Haven today offers access to renowned art museums, music, theater, and lectures featuring internationally known speakers. The Greater New Haven area hosts a rich diversity of higher education institutions, including Yale University, Quinnipiac University, University of New Haven, Southern Connecticut State University, Albertus Magnus College, and Gateway Community College.

New Haven is recognized as a city of innovation and prosperity with a small town feel and diverse neighborhoods. The New Haven Green is a privately-owned park and recreation area that was established in 1810 to preserve its history, prevent its commercialization, and ensure that it remains an open and beautiful green space for enjoyment by the community. As the birthplace of wide variety of inventions—from the Frisbee to the hamburger—it is no surprise that New Haven’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, whether in the start-ups at Science Park or the craft breweries and artisanal bakeries appearing in converted warehouses. The local economy is defined by health care and social services. New Haven also has a strong tech community and a world-renowned architecture and design sector. Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital provide many of the area's job opportunities, attracting highly specialized physicians, researchers, and academics.

Set amongst beautiful hills and estuaries, New Haven is the cultural capital of Connecticut. The region has an array of recreational activities and accessible transportation locally and throughout the Northeast corridor. This richly diverse city has a long tradition of welcoming immigrants from all over the world. In fact, one out of every eight residents is foreign-born and local students speak more than 100 languages at home. Another distinguishing characteristic is the city’s vibrant LGBTQ community and support systems. New Haven’s inclusivity has spurred a growing population in contrast to other places in Connecticut and the Northeast.

A recent study by FiveThirtyEight that reviewed the education level, age, and ethnic diversity of every metropolitan area in the United States concluded that, of any place in America, New Haven most accurately reflects the demographics of the country as a whole in those areas. Demographically, the city is approximately 35 percent black or African-American, 32 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic or Latino, 5 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.5 percent Native American or Alaska Native, and 4 percent of people who identify as two or more ethnic backgrounds. Its surrounding region of 860,000 residents is 65 percent white, 14 percent black or African American, 17 percent Hispanic or Latino, 4 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.5 percent Native American or Alaska Native, and 2 percent claiming two or more racial identities. The changing face of America as part of a global community is personified in New Haven and the arts and ideas in New Haven reflect the world.


Position Summary

The Director of Programming & Community Impact will co-design, develop, and implement the Festival’s world-class artistic and humanities programs for the annual Festival event as well as year-round programming for residencies, special events, and community activities. This individual will proactively engage with and listen to New Haven’s racially and culturally diverse communities and artists and work closely with the Executive Director and team to represent the Festival locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Director of Programming & Community Impact will design programs and foster artistic relationships that uplift the New Haven community. They will engage the community in national and international dialogue with artists and thought leaders, celebrating the New Haven’s global nature and elevating its visibility through international relationships. This individual will achieve the intersection between artistic inclusion and audience access as a way to engage those in the national and international arts and humanities sectors; community members in business, government, and local neighborhoods; regional tourism and economic planners; major arts organizations; donors; board, staff, and volunteers; the media; and multicultural and multigenerational audiences, among others. The Director of Programming & Community Impact will oversee program and production staff, including the Director of Production & Operations, Ideas Program Curator, Tours Program Curator, and The Louise Engel Community Engagement Manager.

Roles and Responsibilities

Programmatic Vision and Contemporary Inspiration

§ Co-design, develop, and implement an internationally diverse, racially inclusive and representative, and artistically distinctive program with the Festival team that energizes innovation, inspires intellectual exploration, and creates an international cultural destination embedded in community collaborations.

§ Identify and cultivate relationships with collaborative partners inside and outside of New Haven.

§ Communicate major programming initiatives and collaborations and represent the Festival to the community, donors, resident companies, media, political leaders, and other stakeholders locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

§ Cultivate, commission, and curate opportunities for new and emerging artists and arts organizations whose resonant and extraordinary works receive national and international acclaim.

§ Create a platform for dialogue and exchange among diverse people, communities, and multicultural neighborhoods throughout Connecticut, centering the Festival’s values of racial and social justice.

§ Respond to current issues, social trends, and global themes to ensure that the Festival remains contemporary, timely, and relevant.

§ Participate in strategic planning and community engagement initiatives with the Executive Director, board, and staff that will best lead to the organization’s artistic, social, educational, and economic outcomes.

§ Develop deeply rooted connections and co-productions by networking with local, regional, national, and international producers, presenters, and cultural organizations.

§ Expand and raise the profile of the Ideas humanities programs during the Festival and year-round.

§ Engage technological advances in digital content for audiences, including applications, podcasts, streaming works, social media, and other virtual opportunities that signal a commitment to innovation and accessibility.

§ Create incubator opportunities that foster and promote local artists and thinkers for shared learning and growth.

§ Perform other programmatic vision and contemporary inspiration responsibilities as needed.

Community Collaborations and External Relations

§ Actively engage with the Executive Director and Director of Development in planning and participating in donor cultivation with selected artists for a broad array of programs, artistic, and humanities initiatives.

§ Embrace a stakeholder engagement process that ensures a commitment to purposeful, all-inclusive partnerships where arts and ideas are at the forefront of community development and sustainability.

§ Develop effective partnerships with artist communities and organizations focused on inquisitiveness, inspiration, and racial and cultural equity.

§ Assess, negotiate, and engage a broad array of unique, traditional, and accessible venues, as well as outdoor locations, for Festival programming.

§ Transform venues and outdoor locations to exceed audiences’ intellectual, artistic, and emotional expectations.

§ Raise public awareness for the Festival by representing the organization at industry-related events and programs, conferences, and webinars to share ideas, build relationships, and research programs.

§ Understand the Festival marketplace, political landscape, and demographic trends to recommend a course of action that addresses potential regional projects and programs.

§ Collaborate with community influencers, government officials, and arts advocates.

§ Perform other community collaborations and external relations responsibilities as needed.

Management and Administration

§ Negotiate directly with artists, agents, and other project representatives while documenting and sharing information in a timely manner with the Producer and Director of Finance & Administration regarding ongoing and completed agreements.

§ Use a lens of equity and transparency in shaping pay-related policies and practices for artists and their work.

§ Lead and mentor a strong team of staff members in a collaborative way, encouraging a transparent work environment that supports the Festival’s artistic, intellectual, and educational goals.

§ Share programmatic strategies, updates, and project specific information for institutional grant and sponsorship opportunities with Festival board and staff on a regular basis throughout the year.

§ Collaborate with the Producer and Director of Production & Operations in developing program and production budgets and maintain financial oversight and responsibility for monitoring the allocation of limited resources.

§ Provide programmatic content in a timely manner to the Director of Marketing and collaborate on the plan for distributing printed and electronic program content and imagery.

§ Ensure a healthy workplace and organizational policies that value experience and new ideas.

§ Delegate appropriate responsibilities and perform succession planning in keeping with a well-managed operation and infrastructure that supports the organization and the communities it serves.

§ Embrace other management and administration responsibilities, as appropriate.

Traits and Characteristics

The Director of Programming & Community Impact will be an innovative leader who inspires artistic ideas and intellectual endeavors while driving towards exemplary results. This individual will be a highly visible leader in the community with a passion for creating positive change through building and sustaining relationships and effectively leveraging professional and community networks. The Director of Programming & Community Impact will be flexible and diplomatic in their approach to challenges and opportunities as they seek out creative concepts while being motivated to deliver efficient and resourceful options. A visible and people-oriented professional, the Director of Programming & Community Impact will value social, artistic, educational, and economic impacts that are embedded in thought leadership and artistic vibrancy. They will be an inspirational force for local and international issues where societal impacts are grounded in the interconnectedness of the humanities and the human spirit.

Other key competencies include:

§ Diplomacy and Negotiation – The ability to be socially savvy, respectful of differing viewpoints, fair regardless of personal biases, and productive in reaching mutually beneficial outcomes.

§ Leadership and Flexibility – The aptitude to motivate, organize, and lead others around a shared vision while accomplishing goals with the agility and adaptability to embrace and implement change.

§ Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills – The dexterity to constructively communicate, build connections, resolve challenging issues, and bring cohesion among a wide array of stakeholders while interacting with them in a positive manner, treating them fairly, and listening carefully to what they have to say.

§ Conceptual Thinking and Accountability – The capacity to develop diverse and innovative local and international partnerships, respond proactively to community needs, embrace professional accountability standards, and deliver external messages that resonate with diverse communities.


Qualified candidates will have at least five years of senior management experience in both international and community-based programming that nurtures professional relationships and engages with communities of color, specifically Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina, South East, and/or East Asian communities and artists. This experience should center in developing highly accessible, mutually beneficial programming with and for said communities. A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent experience) plus evidence of significant, substantial, and increasing responsibility in a senior management role within an entrepreneurial, cultural, higher education, and/or social action organization are required. Candidates must also demonstrate strong written, verbal, and presentation skills with proven effectiveness in building partnerships and community relationships with racially, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse groups and individuals. Multilingual candidates are appreciated.

Compensation and Benefits

The Festival offers competitive compensation with employee benefits that include an excellent individual health insurance plan, dental benefits, paid parental and bereavement leave, vacation, paid time off, tax deferred annuity, and flexible spending account plan, among others.

Applications and Inquiries

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit For questions or general inquiries about this opportunity, including anticipated salary range, please contact:

Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau
Arts Consulting Group
292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801

Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201


International Festival of Arts & Ideas is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate or permit discrimination against any person or group of persons on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, sex, transgender status, gender identity or expression, marital or pregnancy status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability, military status, lawful source of income, sexual orientation or physical disability, or any other class of persons or categories protected by law.

The Festival believes in centering Black and Brown communities that are targeted and abused by unjust systems of oppression. The Festival stands in solidarity with the communities, artists, and speakers with whom it collaborates and pledges that its support extends beyond the Festival’s performance dates. The Festival will do everything it can to help dismantle systematic racism and raises its voice with those in the community who are already engaged in this vital work. The Festival commits to working alongside the community to create transformative change in New Haven.



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