Chief External Relations Officer, National Theatre School of Canada
Chief External Relations Officer
National Theatre School of Canada
The National Theatre School (NTS) is the premier professional training institution for theatre artists in the country. We offer incomparably rigorous professional training programs in both official languages to the actors, directors, designers, production specialists, and writers of tomorrow. In recent years, NTS has opened its doors to more Canadians by creating new arts engagement programs that reach over 8000 participants in 400+ communities. As a global leader in theatre training, NTS shares its expertise and resources with a broad and diverse community of Canadians to ensure that the performing arts continue to play an important role in society.
NTS is seeking an experienced development leader for this newly established role of Chief External Relations Officer. Reporting to the CEO, and as a member of the senior executive team, the Chief External Relations Officer will be responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the External Relations portfolio. This executive portfolio is comprised of Development and Communications functions and teams who work to advance NTS’s mission through increased awareness, engagement and investment. The new incumbent will be our lead fundraiser as this role leans heavily and in a more hands-on fashion in the area of Development while ensuring more general oversight of the Communications function and team.
As NTS looks to the future with an ambitious vision, the Chief External Relations Officer will focus on building a culture of philanthropy throughout the organization and beyond. In collaboration with the senior executive team, they will lead the development of an innovative External Relations strategy generating increased awareness and deepened engagement of key internal and external stakeholders, and increased donor numbers and investments. In addition, the Chief External Relations Officer will guide the strategic development of fresh, bold and competitive positioning that will serve as a rallying point for supporters — including new donors and volunteers — inspiring them to take part in NTS’s transformative vision for theatre and education. As our fundraising leader, the Chief External Relations Officer will play an active role in the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major gifts to NTS.
Among their first priorities, the Chief External Relations Officer will work to build a unified vision and rapidly consolidate the new External Relations structure, joining the Development and Communications units together, with shared goals, priorities and resources as well as connected plans, systems and processes to ensure execution and tracking of key objectives of the External Relations portfolio.
Throughout their mandate, the Chief External Relations Officer will contribute to advancing the strategic priorities of NTS including expansion and innovation, and to raising awareness of our contribution to the performing arts, as well as that of our students and graduates. The new successful incumbent will uphold the principles of excellence, engagement, and equity that are at the core of our work at NTS and will foster a work environment that values diversity, respect, safety, and professionalism.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL OF CANADA
2020-21 marks the National Theatre School’s 60th anniversary. The School has become a center of excellence in the field of theatrical training by focusing on an innovative pedagogy, constantly questioned, validated and adjusted, finding a balance between tradition and modernity, transmission and creation. It hires over 300 artists and specialists each year to provide teaching, artistic and pedagogical support for its 175 students and residents. Its reputation is regional, national and international.
The National Theatre School (NTS) is an independent, non-profit organization that receives grants from different levels of government. It also appeals to the generosity of the public, corporations and private foundations to support its priority projects. Its annual operating budget for its two campuses is approximately $9 million. The School also has an endowment of over $28 million to support, among other things, its student scholarship, capital investment and innovation programs in the areas of diversity, community engagement and technology.
To serve the evolving needs of Canadian theatre, NTS provides incomparable training, in French and English, to actors, directors, playwrights, designers and production specialists to work in professional theatre. NTS also delivers a broad range of community programs that make theatre more accessible to all Canadians.
The Values (abbreviated version):
- A School for the Arts: NTS is both an educational and an artistic institution, which uses professional practices in order to provide the best possible training.
- A School for Canada: NTS is a civic institution with charitable status and must operate in the service of the public good, according to the highest ethical standards, while being accountable for sound financial management. Straddling cultures and languages, the NTS recognizes the rich complexity and specificity of Aboriginal, Canadian and Quebec societies.
- A School in Constant Evolution: Dispensed from artist to artist and integrating all theatrical disciplines, our training emphasizes the various practices that will allow artists to root themselves deeply in the environment in which they have chosen to work.
- A School for Everyone: Our modular training embraces all forms and all theatrical styles. It should be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, race, culture, economic background or physical and mental abilities.
In recent years, NTS has increased its programming considerably with the addition of our Arts Engagement Programs and the development of the Monument National Theatre Lab. NTS now serves the needs of Canadian theatre with programs ranging from first experiences in performance to ongoing professional development and research.
An Exciting Time at NTS
Society, technology and our culture are evolving at an ever-faster pace, and the School is adapting to this evolution by constantly rethinking its approach, its ways of doing and by building a larger and more open community around its activities. Since the development of its action plan, the School has pursued the creation of new programs to be offered to youth, professionals and the general public across the country. After ten years of work, we are completing the major renovations of the two buildings of the NTS’s main pavilion. The Monument-National, our second pavilion, will be the focus of a new renovation project that will be crucial to carrying out the planned activities. Also, reengineering of the organizational structure of the NTS is underway. To this end, the staffing of this Chief External Relations Officer position is part of this ambitious organizational project in order to better respond to the growing and changing needs of our institution, in the most efficient and human way possible and within a living environment committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Its adaptive capacity and resilience are the most valuable assets of NTS. By no means accidental, they are the result of a desire to see further and to promote creation and discovery. They are also the result of a desire to stay in tune with current theatrical art and with the cultural and social transformations that are occurring. Thus, while offering its students quality content, guidance and services on a daily basis, the School’s management and staff constantly seek to anticipate the needs and resources necessary to ensure the future of theatre and artistic practices, to shape a vision and projects that are inspiring, relevant and exemplary – all of this being at the heart of its mission.
It is in this context of growth, transformation and renewed commitment to excellence that our new Chief External Relations Officer will work closely with senior management to achieve great things, in line with the ambitions of the School.
EXTERNAL RELATIONS AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL OF CANADA
Led by the Chief External Relations Officer and in partnership with the School’s senior leadership, the External Relations team coordinates fundraising and stakeholder engagement to build life-long relationships with alumni and other external stakeholders including former students, former staff and NTS community program participants. The External Relations unit works in a highly cohesive fashion and provides institutional marketing and communications services, and government relations to advance the strategic vision and academic mission of the NTS.
The External Relations team is comprised of seven positions. Currently, three resources are dedicated to Development functions including Annual Campaigns, Major Gifts, Corporate Partnerships, Planned Giving, Stewardship, Foundations and Government Grants as well as Alumni and External Stakeholder Relations.
Four resources are dedicated to Communications and Marketing functions and work to share the NTS story with local and national media, potential students, alumni, donors, partners, community program participants, political leaders and the general public. The team of professionals offers services and expert advice related to external communications, media relations, marketing and branding, and digital communications in support of the School’s strategic priorities.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The Chief External Relations Officer will be an ambitious and creative fundraising strategist with demonstrated executive leadership skills. The ideal candidate will have an entrepreneurial approach with the capacity to innovate. They will encourage bold new ideas to grow our NTS profile, brand, donor base, revenues, and impact. The successful candidate must be passionate about the arts and will be eager to engage with and learn from experts.
An exceptional project manager who smoothly balances the many demands of the role, the Chief External Relations Officer will possess a solid track record of successful fundraising experience as well as expertise in communications regarding storytelling and reputation advancing. The new incumbent will lead, direct, and manage in a more hands-on fashion in the area of Development while ensuring more general strategic oversight of the Communications function and team.
A seasoned fundraising professional who understands that they are first and foremost in the relationship business, the successful candidate will possess exceptional interpersonal skills and will be adept at connecting with people and inspiring them. A closer who authentically advances relationships with donors to secure investments, the new incumbent will possess excellent judgement, instincts and sense of timing.
Ideally having previous experience with national scope and knowledge of the Canadian arts landscape, the Chief External Relations Officer will guide NTS in its efforts to raise its profile and community engagement across the country. Possessing strong communication abilities and poised leadership presence, the new incumbent will be a credible NTS ambassador and representative. Calm, confident, and self-aware, the successful candidate will bring excellent integrity and diplomacy.
As the leader of a total team of seven professionals, including two direct management reports, the Chief External Relations Officer will be a strong team leader with the necessary experience to further develop mission-driven team members, committed to the values of NTS. The successful candidate will effectively harness their passion and potential, encouraging team members to bravely think big and generate innovative ideas, thereby bringing performance to new heights. The new incumbent will also fully champion equity and inclusion in the work environment.
The Chief External Relations Officer will be an NTS leader in pro-actively inspiring, guiding, coordinating and encouraging senior management team colleagues, staff and volunteers in order to heighten engagement with key NTS stakeholders in an impactful manner that deepens donor relationships and investments.
As a member of the senior executive team, the Chief External Relations Officer will play a key role in developing and implementing short-, medium- and long-term plans to improve quality, synergies, and the efficiency of the services or entities under their responsibility. They will be a leader capable of demonstrating pragmatism, rigor, flexibility, generosity, empathy, adaptability and innovation by constantly integrating the strategic priorities of the School in the daily organization of the work. The new incumbent will be excited about the incredible potential to grow collaboration, engagement, and results.
KEY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Strategy, Planning and Operations
- As a member of the NTS senior executive team, actively contribute to the overall NTS institutional vision and strategic planning
- Collaborate, with other members of the senior executive team, to define NTS annual objectives, organizational priorities, policies and key performance indicators
- Work as a collegial team member to ensure alignment and interdependence between services, sections and departments
- Advise the CEO and NTS senior executive team on all matters related to External Relations including Development & Donor Relations, Alumni Engagement, Communications & Marketing and Government Relations
- In consultation and partnership with the CEO, members of the senior executive team, members of the Board and various NTS community stakeholders, create and lead the development and implementation of a cohesive strategic and operational External Relations plan that aligns with and supports the NTS’s mission, vision and strategic goals
- Build a unified vision and rapidly consolidate the new External Relations unit structure, joining the Development and Communications departments together, with shared goals and priorities
- Review and connect systems, resources and processes as needed and ensure execution, tracking and progress of key objectives of the External Relations portfolio
- Ensure the operations of the department are in accordance with organization policies and procedures as well as compliance with federal and provincial legislation, CRA, regulations and standards, as required
- Stay current with fund development, alumni engagement, government relations, marketing and communications best practices and make recommendations based on the impact to NTS of changing external environment factors (competitive, regulatory, technical, etc.)
- Manage the human and financial resources of the External Relations portfolio; drive efficiencies to ensure maximum effective utilization of resources
- Contribute to the development of the overall budget of the NTS, manage the External Relations budgets and produce budget analysis reports
- Foster ongoing relationships with members of the NTS Board of Directors and Governors. Serve as the NTS staff lead to the NTS Governors (senior volunteer ambassadors engaged in philanthropic development)
Fundraising & Donor Relations
- In collaboration with the senior executive team, pro-actively build and lead a culture of philanthropy amongst faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community that increases interest and investment in the NTS
- Rapidly consolidate existing systems and ensure that appropriate tools and processes are in place to gather, analyse and interpret data to support the setting of fundraising goals, strategies and data driven decision making
- Lead the overall strategy of a comprehensive fundraising plan including the following programs: Annual Giving (monthly giving, direct response and tributes), Major Gifts, Planned Gifts, Corporate Giving & Sponsorships and Foundation Giving
- Lead the further development and accelerated growth of the Major and Planned Gift Programs
- Work in collaboration with the Communications team to ensure the development of effective content for cases for support, donor opportunities, proposals and donor stewardship
- Monitor, track and evaluate all fundraising activities to ensure that annual and multi-year revenue targets are being achieved through the efforts of staff, volunteers and appropriate committees
- Ensure a professional, strategic, and coordinated approach to donor identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activities
- Nurture existing relationships and implement strategies and tactics to build new relationships with donors, alumni, business and community leaders, foundations, institutions and other key stakeholders
- Strategically engage and support the CEO, members of the Executive team, Faculty members, Artistic Directors, Directors, members of the Board of Governors, alumni, and others in fundraising activities, including the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of high impact donors
- Manage a personal portfolio of approximately 15-20 prospective major and planned gift donors with the capacity to make commitments at the highest gift levels
- Work with the Development team to ensure the highest quality of donor stewardship through the development and implementation of a strategic Stewardship Plan
- Provide management oversight to the grant writing and reporting processes
- Monitor trends in both the community and sector, and ensure the adaptation of fundraising strategies as needed
- Ensure adherence to legislation (Privacy, Canada Revenue Agency, Imagine Canada Standards), industry codes of ethics, and best practices throughout the organization
Alumni & External Stakeholder Engagement
- Provide strategic direction for the alumni and external stakeholder engagement program (including former students, former staff and NTS community program participants), ensuring that best-practice activities are in place to support fundraising and strategic goals of the NTS
- Work closely with the Development lead, the CEO, and the Senior Executive Team to identify, develop, and maximize synergies between Alumni and external stakeholder engagement programs and other school programs and activities
Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs
- Collaborate closely with senior executive team members to further build a bold, inspirational and compelling strategic vision for NTS and ensure a consistent and integrated approach to positioning the School’s value, impact and brand
- Provide strategic direction to the Communications team in the creation of a communications and content marketing strategy to competitively and distinctively position NTS with key stakeholder groups (including prospective and existing students, faculty/staff, alumni, existing and potential individual/corporate/foundation donors, sponsors, community groups and all levels of government) to achieve the performance goals aligned with NTS’s overall mandate and strategy
- Provide strategic input to the marketing and communications team in the development and execution of a comprehensive and integrated plan, ensuring that it supports NTS’s strategic objectives, the complete information needs of the school community, targets for student recruitment as well as the goals of the Development, Alumni and External stakeholder relations functions on an ongoing basis
- Support crisis communications and issues management activities, in collaboration with the Communications lead, the CEO and the Senior Executive Team, as needed
- Keep current regarding the internal and external environment to identify communications, marketing and public affairs issues, opportunities and challenges and advise the school accordingly
- Work collaboratively with the CEO and Government Relations lead to develop and deliver the Government Relations plan for NTS
- Serve as an NTS lead representative in cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with key influencers from all political parties at the local, provincial and federal levels
- Act as a spokesperson for NTS when appropriate and participate in community events, public forums, conferences and other events to enhance and support NTS’s profile
Staff and Volunteer Team Leadership
- Ensure that the External Relations team operates in an integrated, cohesive, professional, and accountable manner with other school departments and with the external community
- Provide leadership, guidance, inspiration and support to the External Relations team to develop skills and capacity in order to maximize their contributions to the school
- Manage, coach and evaluate the performance of direct reports
- Grow the NTS’s senior volunteer structure, particularly for major gift and planned gift development, and participate in the identification, recruitment, training, management, and stewardship of senior volunteers
QUALIFICATIONS & KEY COMPETENCIES
Experience and Knowledge
- A deep personal interest and passion for the arts is essential for this role
- Demonstrated understanding and commitment to creating an environment and modelling a workstyle that is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible
- Previous experience working with a national scope or in academic, arts or cultural organizations will be considered assets, in addition to an understanding of the arts and culture landscape in Canada
- Demonstrated leadership experience in progressive senior level positions in Fund Development, Alumni Engagement, Community Relations or Marketing & Communications
- History of inspiring, mobilizing and leading diverse groups to work collaboratively, effectively and successfully to advance strategic objectives
- A proven track record of success in individual major gift or corporate partnership development
- Understanding of annual and legacy giving as well as donor stewardship programs, with the commitment and aptitude required to build a culture of philanthropy within an organization and its community
- Proven success developing and executing initiatives to strategically position and increase an organization’s profile, reputation and engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders
- Knowledge and understanding of marketing and communications (brand management, public and media relations, issues management, government relations)
- Strong leader and people manager – demonstrated ability to inspire, lead and drive change in an organization and to develop creative, high-functioning, mission-driven and engaged staff and volunteer teams
- Proven ability to foster and maintain positive relationships and partnerships with internal and external stakeholders including but not limited to students, faculty/staff, senior administration, Board members, donors, corporate partners, foundations, community groups, media and government representatives in order to advance NTS’s mission, vision and priorities
- Exceptional verbal and written communications skills in French or English; a functional level of verbal bilingualism is expected for this role
- Superior analytical abilities and demonstrated expertise in data driven decision making
Qualities and Behaviours
- Commitment to the mission and values of NTS
- Strong strategic mindset
- Upholds a spirit of innovation, boldness and creativity
- Proactive leader with executive presence
- Superior ability to articulate a strong and clear vision, and engender excitement and passion in others
- A poised, polished and impeccable presentation style
- Exceptional interpersonal skills to foster and build long-term relationships
- High-level of professionalism with a donor centered approach
- A team player with a reputation for transparency and collaboration
- Willingness to occasionally travel and work with alumni, volunteers and donors nationally
- A strong work ethic, combining energy and stamina
- Personal reputation for integrity and the highest ethical standards
- A personal commitment to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion
FOR MORE INFORMATION
KCI Search + Talent has been retained to conduct this search on behalf of The National Theatre School of Canada. For more information about this opportunity, please contact Sylvie Battisti, Vice President, KCI Search + Talent by email at NTS@kcitalent.com
All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. Interested candidates should send resume and letter of interest to the email address listed above by April 16, 2021.
To view the full Position Brief, please visit: www.kcitalent.com
The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) believes in employment equity and is committed to providing a workplace that is inclusive and accessible to all. For NTS, it is imperative that the diversity of our community be reflected in our staff, who must likewise be comfortable working with and for people of all walks of life. We strongly support the right to employability and greatly encourage applications from Indigenous people, people of colour, and those of all other ethnic and cultural affiliations, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.