TimeLine Theatre Company - Executive Director
Founded in 1997, TimeLine Theatre Company (TimeLine) is one of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions. From the moment its six founders each pitched in $50 to launch the company, TimeLine has worked to create theatre experiences that extend far beyond the stage. Its team of Company Members works collaboratively to present riveting stories that link past, present, and future—exploring today’s social and political issues through the lens of the past and inspiring audiences to re-imagine tomorrow.
TimeLine is currently celebrating its 25th season with the world premiere of Tyla Abercrumbie’s Relentless and the Chicago premiere of Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady. Since its founding, TimeLine has presented 82 productions, including 10 world premieres and 38 Chicago premieres. At the heart of TimeLine is a team of 16 Company Members. They work closely together to shape the organization’s artistic vision and democratically choose all programming, guided by the mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. This collaborative team produces provocative theatre and educational programs that engage, entertain, and enlighten. The TimeLine artistic family extends further to include Associate Artists, a Playwrights Collective, and other emerging and established artists who contribute to the company’s work. They embody TimeLine’s vision and values, which include commitments to inclusion and embracing diversity in all its forms.
TimeLine is deeply rooted in community connection and impact. Its Living History Education Program (Living History) brings the company’s mission to Chicago Public Schools, working with students on creative projects related to their class curriculum and the historically-inspired stories explored on TimeLine’s stage or elsewhere in literature. Since its inception, more than 8,400 students have actively explored history and theatre through the program. In 2018, Living History launched TimeLine South, a unique arts program that provides teens a safe space for self-expression, creativity, and ensemble building on the south side of Chicago. Offered free of charge for six weeks during the summer, TimeLine South promotes leadership in the arts and teaches teens that theatre can also be a vehicle for social justice. In 2021, the Living History department launched a Next Generation program for young adults and after-school programs at Uptown’s Uplift Community High School.
TimeLine’s work has been recognized locally and nationally with more than 50 awards for artistic excellence and for astute, nonprofit management. In 2016, TimeLine was among the first arts organizations ever to receive the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions. TimeLine has been named Company of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, one of the top 10 emerging professional theatre companies nationwide by the American Theatre Wing, and the Best Theatre in the city by Chicago magazine. The company has received 58 Jeff Awards, including 11 Outstanding Production awards. TimeLine’s artistic excellence is matched by outstanding business management. It was the first arts organization to receive the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence of a small company, as well as the Association for Strategic Planning’s Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award in the Non-Profit category.
In December 2018, TimeLine announced the purchase of property to create a dynamic home of its own to grow, innovate, support new artistic possibilities, and enhance TimeLine’s mission. Located at 5033-5035 North Broadway Avenue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, this new facility will feature a flexible 250-seat black box theatre, expanded areas for the immersive exhibit galleries that enhance the production experience, expansive social areas including a bar and café, office space for staff, and dedicated space for education and deeper engagement beyond the stage. There are also opportunities for future expansion, including the addition of a second theatre. TimeLine is working with HGA as architect for its new home project, which has an anticipated budget of $35 million, to be paid through a combination of private philanthropy and public funds. Opening is planned for early 2024.
TimeLine has a 26-member board of directors, led by President John Sterling. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, TimeLine reported a total revenue of $2.8 million, with approximately $1.5 million in earned income and $1.3 million in contributions. Total expenses were $2.8 million.
Chicago is the third largest city in the United States with a population of 2.7 million residents. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, the city has a unique spirit and community distinct from large cities on the two coasts. Chicago has been, in the words of Mark Twain, the place that is “always rubbing the lamp, fetching up the genii, contriving and achieving new impossibilities.” Recognizing its appeal to visitors, Condé Nast readers have selected Chicago as the Best Big City in the United States four years in a row. A diverse and vibrant place to live, Chicago offers a myriad of amenities for its residents, including a world-class collection of arts and cultural offerings. Chicago has a robust public transportation system, two international airports directly connected to local trains, and pre-pandemic job growth that outpaced the country in 2019.
Chicago is often described as a city of neighborhoods, with 77 distinct communities, each characterized for their unique flair and offerings of local restaurants, businesses, and entertainment options. Chicago’s cultural life includes a host of prominent cultural institutions. The city has one of the strongest theatre communities in the United States, with more than 240 independent nonprofit theatres calling the city home, including regional institutions such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, The Second City, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater; mid-sized companies like TimeLine, Victory Gardens Theater, and Court Theatre; and emerging theatres such as Steep Theatre, Definition Theatre, and more.
Located in the East Lake View neighborhood on the north side of the city since 1999, TimeLine will soon be moving a bit further north, directly up Broadway Avenue to the Uptown neighborhood, where Chicago’s rich history and international diversity intersect. TimeLine’s new home will be adjacent to Argyle Street, which is referred to as ‘Asia on Argyle.’ It features an array of Asian eateries and, in summer, the Argyle Night Market fills the street with vendors, live entertainment, and cultural performances. Winter brings the annual Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration, including a colorful parade. Currently, a new Chicago Transit Authority train station is being constructed on Argyle, just steps from TimeLine’s new home, providing tremendous accessibility.
The area also has a storied legacy as an entertainment district, and TimeLine will join iconic venues such as the Riviera Theatre, the Aragon Ballroom, the Green Mill, and the Uptown Theatre – spaces that have drawn some of the biggest names in music for almost a century. Today, those vintage theatres and old-school jazz clubs are interspersed with a dynamic array of global cuisine. While the area has become known for its wealth of Asian dining options, restaurants represent a mix of cultures from all over the globe.
Uptown, and Chicago as a whole, embraces and celebrates its diversity. The 2020 Census found a city population that was 30 percent Latino, 29 percent African American, 7 percent Asian, and 31 percent percent white, with a growing multi-ethnic population. Chicago’s cultural community strives to engage and support Chicagoans of all backgrounds in creative expression. Forty languages are spoken in Chicago households, with Spanish and Polish being the most common. Boasting a vibrant LGBTQ+ community, Chicago is home to North Halsted, the country’s first officially designated gay neighborhood, and has a full month of Pride celebrations each year.
Sources: choosechicago.com, chicago.gov, census.gov, leagueofchicagotheatres.org
The Executive Director will partner with the Artistic Director in advancing the overall success and sustainability of TimeLine. Reporting to the board of directors, the Executive Director will be responsible for the administration and management of all business operations, finances, fundraising, marketing, and community engagement. They will activate their financial acumen, operational expertise, and experience in advancing the mission and goals of TimeLine, most markedly for the transition to its new artistic home in the Uptown community of Chicago. This individual will provide caring and creative leadership to staff, Company Members, and board members. They will guide programs and services, facilitate organizational excellence, and ensure that TimeLine is a forum for artistic expression and audience engagement.
The Executive Director will embody and promote anti-racist policies and create an environment that is sustainably diverse, inclusive, and equitable, working across the organization and throughout the community to build strong relationships with individuals and institutions. They will enthusiastically represent the organization to multiple constituencies as an ambassador, advancing partnerships and deepening the engagement with Chicago’s many communities. The Executive Director will value the organization’s past and craft new initiatives that build on TimeLine’s commitment to presenting stories inspired by history that connect with today’s social and political issues. Rooted in a spirit of community service and collaboration, the Executive Director will establish strategic priorities with all three branches of TimeLine leadership, including the board, Company Members, and staff, aligning with the needs of the diverse stakeholders that TimeLine serves.
Roles and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Leadership
Serve as a committed, visionary, and accessible leader for TimeLine with a passionate connection to the organization’s mission.
Partner with the Artistic Director to lead TimeLine through an unprecedented era of change and growth while maintaining financial health and staying committed to TimeLine’s values and principles.
Propel the company into the future by supporting and creating sustainable and mission-aligned pathways for new relationships, programs, and revenue opportunities.
Demonstrate a collaborative leadership style in a wide range of communities and settings that inspire internal and external stakeholders to participate in TimeLine’s vibrant and exciting future.
Embrace the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access to ensure an organizational culture that respects different perspectives and nurtures an environment of antiracism, goodwill, and empowerment.
Delight in opportunities to connect with current and potential supporters as a primary spokesperson and enthusiastic champion for TimeLine.
Communicate openly, consistently, effectively, and collaboratively with staff, Company Members, board members, and other stakeholders.
Fiscal Responsibility and Oversight
Further TimeLine’s 25-year track record for exemplary fiscal and business acumen, ensuring the highest levels of financial accountability.
Lead financial planning and the well-being of the organization, ensuring transparency, integrity, and accuracy in all financial reporting.
Provide analysis, develop earned and contributed revenue forecasting models and scenario plans, and make recommendations to support decision making about TimeLine’s finances.
Lead the development, implementation, and management of organizational budgets.
Immediately join the Artistic Director, other TimeLine Founders, and the Director of Major Gifts in the ongoing execution of strategy for the capital campaign to fund TimeLine’s new facility.
Partner with the Artistic Director as co-lead fundraisers along with the board and development staff, creating opportunities to broaden the donor base and increase overall contributed revenue for the short-term operations and expanded operating budgets for TimeLine’s new home.
Collaborate with the Director of Education to secure grants that sustain the growth and expansion of the Living History Education Program.
Cultivate and nurture authentic relationships with individual donors, potential corporate sponsors, and other funders, in collaboration with the development department, to support increased contributed revenue.
Deepen relationships with board members to further leverage their giving capacity and fundraising potential.
Identify and pursue funding opportunities specifically focused on supporting the expansion of education and community engagement programs that align with the strategic goals established by the Living History leadership team.
Community Engagement and Proactive Inclusion
Uplift the work of TimeLine’s Uptown community engagement team by enthusiastically joining its ongoing efforts to build relationships in the new neighborhood.
Embrace a role as a prominent, vocal, and visible leader throughout Uptown, engaging with other business and civic leaders.
Develop strategic partnerships and alliances with mission-compatible organizations to expand programs, increase access for its programming, welcome TimeLine’s diversifying audience, and further initiatives that will support greater inclusivity within TimeLine’s facility.
Center equity, diversity, inclusion, access, and anti-racism work in all aspects of artistic and management decisions to ensure an organizational culture that respects a multitude of perspectives and nurtures an environment of empowerment at all levels.
Lead efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion as a key element of community engagement, including the areas of audience development, workforce vitality, board participation, vendor access, and programmatic vibrancy.
Represent the organization throughout the community, engaging actively with a diverse constituency of civic and organizational partners, elected officials, media, and other external stakeholders.
Earned Revenue and Audience Development
Lead the creation and management of new revenue sources to ensure sustainability in the new space, including but not limited to a planned café and bar; special, limited programs; off-night events; rental opportunities; and community events.
Join forces with the Artistic Director and marketing team to create innovative sales strategies to maximize earned revenue and elevate TimeLine’s brand and identity.
Expand and fortify the existing, mutually supportive relationships with neighbors and community organizations to advance educational and connectivity initiatives.
Attend and support a broad range of local cultural events, engaging with community members to build visibility for the organization and support colleague institutions.
Staff Development, Management, and Empowerment
Lead and inspire the TimeLine staff, promoting staff growth, development, and education.
Empower staff at all levels in the organization to work at their highest potential and have a voice in its future with the goal of building and retaining a diverse, healthy, and sustainable team.
Support team ingenuity and professional development with appropriate human resources, structures, systems, and technological platforms in alignment with TimeLine’s values, as well as current and future developments in the field.
Verify that projects are managed in compliance with contractual agreements, ordinances, regulations, laws, and other requirements.
Ensure a culture of care and nurture an environment of wellness.
Expand, diversify, and engage the board of directors by ensuring that TimeLine identifies and uplifts the strengths, skills, interests, and assets of board members to meet the strategic goals of the organization.
Regularly engage board members, acting as a liaison between board committees, staff, and the Artistic Director.
Engage and motivate board members, leverage their skills and networks, and collaborate with board leadership on strengthening governance in support of the organization.
Traits and Characteristics
The Executive Director will be a strategic, innovative, and dynamic visionary leader who enthusiastically embraces a public-facing role, interacting with others and championing teamwork. They will passionately embrace the cultural competencies required of this intensely mission-driven and collaborative organization. The successful candidate will be a decisive and business-minded leader with a sense of adventure and passion for theatre. An innate collaborator, coalition-builder, and tactician, this individual will be motivated by working in an intense environment, prioritizing tasks and responding to the needs of others with critical thinking, tenacity, and resiliency. They will demonstrate versatility and adaptability and be comfortable with change. The Executive Director will be receptive to new ideas, opportunities, and innovation while effectively leveraging organizational, human, financial, and technological resources. A visible and vocal advocate, both internally and in the community at large, the Executive Director will demonstrate the ability to organize and motivate other people to accomplish goals, create a sense of order and direction, and gain active participation among a variety of stakeholders.
Other key competencies include:
Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills – The dexterity to respect team members and their perspectives, share responsibility for successes and failures, effectively communicate, build rapport, and relate well to a multitude of lived experiences and perspectives.
Professional and Personal Accountability – The capacity to take responsibility for professional and personal actions, recognizing that mistakes create opportunities for learning and growth.
Time and Priority Management – The aptitude to ascertain competing priorities, resolve difficulties and overcome obstacles, and maximize the use of time and resources to attain the desired outcomes.
Forward-Thinking – The foresight to envision expanded artistic possibilities, championing cutting-edge ideas and concepts and crafting an environment where creative thinking is the norm not the exception.
Experience and Qualifications
Leadership experience in a dynamic arts, cultural, educational, or similar community-focused or socially-oriented organization is necessary. Qualified candidates will possess a proven record of success that includes expert management of finances and budgets, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, and partnership building. A demonstrated ability to lead an organization through change and manage exponential growth is essential. Passion for and knowledge of the performing arts and specifically theatre is crucial, as is embracing an organizational model that includes a collaborative artistic collective such as TimeLine’s Company Members. Senior experience in leading operations and administration is required, including major gift fundraising, earned revenue maximization, and associated initiatives in overall fiscal responsibility. A demonstrated commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion, and access is necessary, as well as experience navigating change and inspiring staff, board, artists, and other stakeholders. A deep commitment to community building and connection is essential. The ideal candidate will possess exceptional interpersonal skills and creativity, and will be committed to collaboration. Exceptional writing abilities and verbal presentation skills are expected. A broad range of life experience is welcomed.
Compensation and Benefits
TimeLine Theatre offers competitive compensation, with a salary range expected between $90,000 and $110,000. Benefits include health, dental, vision, and life insurance; optional 403(b) retirement; generous paid leave policies (vacation, personal, sick, maternity/paternity/adoption, and holiday); and professional development support.
Application and Inquires
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments, please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:
Jenna Deja, Vice-President
Delilah Norris, Vice-President
Arts Consulting Group
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227 (Deja) Ext. 230 (Norris)
TimeLine Theatre Company is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to the goal of building a diverse staff and an inclusive work environment.