BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council was presented with a job description for a managing director of the Colonial Arts Center during their July 15 meeting and voted unanimously to approve that job description in its conception – without a locked salary for the position.
At their July 15 meeting, council members unanimously approved the managing director job description in its conception; the person will oversee events scheduling, day-to-day operations of the facility and have a host of other responsibilities, including financial management.
Colonial Arts Center Board President John Waltz spoke before Buckhannon City Council last Thursday about the proposed job description for a managing director for the CAC.
“We thought it was important we bring the position and the concept to you to talk about what the next steps are and what you need from us to understand it a little better,” Waltz said. “When you think about it, it is a space that, when we explored all the things that can happen in there, cannot be managed by volunteers. We expect that a lot of volunteers will be doing work, but we do not believe the work can be completed without the work and direction of a professional in the space.”
Waltz said many spaces like the Colonial Theatre – now the Colonial Arts Center – utilize multiple employees, but board members agreed they do not see the need for more than one full-time employee to manage the facility.
“We were looking for what we think the space needs, and [the CAC board] selected ‘managing director’ because we did not want it to be an artistic position,” Waltz said. “The idea is to create a position [for a person] who is responsible for management of the space.”
The job description is broken into three main roles and responsibilities: leadership and management; financial management; and external relations and partnerships.
“We need a person constantly pursuing the idea of getting artists into the space and looking for funding and grant opportunities,” Waltz said. “We want it to be a vibrant space where people are renting classrooms, teaching lessons and all of those things.”
Waltz said the board hopes there will eventually be an established, citywide community arts calendar.
“This would help make sure things are going on at different times – that we are supporting each other and not conflicting – and trying regularly to schedule and sell things,” Waltz said. “Finally, we thought the director would manage a website.”
Waltz said some of the qualifications they identified for the ideal candidate include someone who has a love and passion for the arts; stellar written, verbal and speaking skills; development, fundraising and financial management experience; and prior leadership experience. Work with nonprofits would also be a plus, the board decided.
“We thought it would be helpful to mention if they worked with nonprofits of this size and scope,” Waltz said. “We did not write the education into it. Instead, we focused more on the four years of prior experience with arts management or a close field.”
The CAC Board researched salaries and made a recommendation to council of $45,000 to $50,000. However, when council voted on approving the position conceptually, they did not set a salary. The CAC currently operates as a publicly funded entity and department of the city, similar to the Stockert Youth & Community Center, so council would pay the person’s salary out of the general fund initially; however, city officials hope it will eventually become a self-sustaining arts center.
“Obviously, we know that is for council and others to take up,” Waltz said. “When we looked at those salaries, a bit of them were higher than we had listed here, but we tried to scale that to a rising star – a first opportunity of this scale – something that would fit our community.”
Waltz said they brought the description before council because this is the last time council is meeting prior to August. He said the board believes getting the job description finalized is important as the space readies to open.
Councilman C.J. Rylands thanked Waltz and the board for their work in putting the job description together. He said he felt it important that the CAC ensures that the expectations associated with the position are clearly outlined, especially in the beginning.
“A lot of times when you serve on a board of directors, no one wants to be the bad guy,” Rylands said. “I appreciate the fact that you made a thoughtful outline.”
Waltz said as they looked around, they found many venues the same size as the Colonial Arts Center that had two employees, but the CAC Board wanted to be sure not to over-hire with the goal of the venue becoming financially self-sustaining in mind.
“We would want it to be sustained by bookings, rental fees and we do not want to burden the city,” Waltz said, “but it is going to take a little bit of time to find the correct rates and find out what people are willing to pay.”
City Recorder Randy Sanders recommended the position be filled by someone who is willing to proactively secure events, artists and performers in an effort to ensure the square footage of the CAC is utilized “from top to bottom.”
“They need to make it a vital centerpiece in Buckhannon,” Sanders said. “Once we do open it, we do not want it to be empty and it has to be active. We need to be aggressive; people are not just going to seek us out. We cannot be hiding and saying, ‘Yes, if you find us, we will have a space to rent to you.’ We need to be aggressively going out and selling ourselves and saying, ‘we have this opportunity, and we have this space – we found you and we think this would be the perfect spot.’ This is what the person needs to do – to be a salesperson as well as a manager.”
Councilman Jack Reger said he felt the managing director should make bi-monthly reports to the city about the financials and usage of the facility.
“I think it will enable them to make wise and better decisions and inform the council and mayor as to what is happening and taking steps to make sure it is successful,” Reger said.
Council members also unanimously approved Ordinance 451 – the renaming of the Colonial Theatre Facility to ‘Colonial Arts Center or CAC’ on its first of two readings. The Colonial Arts Center, the former Colonial Theatre, was built in 1924 and recent renovations include work on the main auditorium, balcony auditorium, the entrance lobby and basement. Once renovations are completed, the facility hopes to have regular productions featuring theatrical pieces, performing arts and musical concerts for audiences of all ages.
The M.I.B. Gallery has been and will continue to host regular art exhibitions.
In other city news, council’s Aug. 5, 2021, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 3 due to city officials participating in the West Virginia Municipal League Conference.