Dayton Live – President & CEO

dayton live bf4621862f818168927011b1a0adb3ed

DHR Global has been exclusively retained by the Board of Dayton Live to conduct the search for a President & CEO. Interested applicants may submit resume and cover letter to


Dayton Live, located in the heart of downtown Dayton, is the city’s premier, not-for-profit presenter of performing arts and one of the largest real estate owners (700,000 sf across six separate buildings) in downtown proper. Serving the Miami Valley and beyond, Dayton Live presents first run Broadway shows, a diverse schedule of national and international artists, and performing arts companies of the highest quality; offers comprehensive arts education programs; provides a world-class home for local arts organizations; and is an economic catalyst ($33 million annually) and community leader, which supports efforts to increase travel and tourism.

With a nearly $20 million operating budget, Dayton Live presents more than 300 performances for all ages and interests each year, across a broad range of arts, education, and entertainment activities from its four main venues: the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center (home to the 2,319-seat Mead Theatre, black box Mathile Theatre, Kettering Wintergarden, and several meeting spaces); the Victoria Theatre (a restored 1,154-seat proscenium theater built in 1886); the PNC Arts Annex (a flexible black box theater and multi-purpose studio); and the Metropolitan Arts Center (home of the 212-seat, three-quarter-thrust Loft Theatre). Dayton Live also owns and operates the Arts Garage and a Starbucks. Dayton Live is an acclaimed independent presenter of Broadway and in the 2024-25 season will offer several popular titles, including Hamilton, through its Premier Health Broadway in Dayton series. Dayton Live also offers series centered on all styles of music and varied star attractions; curated wine and cocktail tasting events; children’s theatre, and a speaker series. Dayton Live’s Education & Engagement programs enrich the lives, learning and leisure of Miami Valley residents by providing free and low-cost creative experiences that are varied, diverse and accessible. Dayton Live is also the proud home of several resident companies including Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic, and Dayton Opera), the Human Race Theatre Company, Muse Machine, and the Dayton Dance Initiative.

With more than one million residents (CSA), Dayton is the sixth-most populous city in Ohio and anchors the state’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. Located within Ohio’s Miami Valley region, Dayton neighbors Columbus to the east and Cincinnati to the south. Renowned as the home of many patents and inventors, most notably the Wright brothers, Dayton has shifted from its manufacturing heyday of the 20th century to a more diversified service economy today. The city proudly boasts the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a robust healthcare system pillared by Kettering Health and Premier Health, well-regarded institutions of higher education like University of Dayton and Wright State University, year-round recreational activities through the award-winning Five Rivers MetroParks, and other significant cultural institutions like Dayton Art Institute and Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Financially stable and diversely funded, Dayton Live has in recent years undergone a successful rebranding and repositioned itself as a destination market for popular traveling shows and productions. Known as an entrepreneurial enterprise, Dayton Live sustains itself with an exceptionally strong ratio of earned to unearned income and is a member of the IPN. Dayton Live is midway through a three-year strategic plan with potential for major renovation, expansion, and innovation on the horizon.


The next President & CEO of Dayton Live will be given the extraordinary opportunity to build upon the tremendous momentum of the past five years and envision and achieve new levels of growth, impact, and relevance for the organization. The President & CEO will inherit a deeply talented and experienced team of senior leaders, a committed and active board of trustees, rejuvenated relationships with community partners and stakeholders, a new and enviable reputation amid the national touring arts and entertainment ecosystem, strong ticket sales and a proven programming mix, and a solid financial footing.

Among the many exciting opportunities and responsibilities for the President & CEO, include:

Strategic Leadership

  • Work with the members of the Board of Trustees to continually enhance the vision for the organization and execute strategic planning to realize that vision.
  • Serve as the public representative of Dayton Live among audiences, donors, city and county government agencies, the school board, the arts and cultural community, other local and regional arts organizations, business associations, and representatives of the tourism industry.
  • Drive synergies among the various organizational components (presenting, real estate development and management, venue management, arts education, community engagement) leading an operating model that optimizes outcomes and ensures long-term sustainability.
  • Ensure Dayton Live continues to build on its many strengths and assets to ensure its prominent and relevant position in the Miami Valley arts ecosystem.
  • Deepen and broaden employee engagement and EDIA initiatives and proactively work with stakeholders to ensure Dayton Live is an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible resource in the community.
  • Assures the competitiveness of Dayton Live as benchmarked against industry standards of comparable arts presentations and arts venues.

Artistic Leadership

  • Ensure that Dayton Live’s presentations are exciting, engaging, relevant to, and compelling to its multiple audiences.
  • Nurture strong, effective relationships with Dayton Live resident companies and other artistic and community partners.
  • Continuously strengthen Dayton Live’s Education & Engagement programs.
  • Engage the Dayton metropolitan community to promote and support local artistic talent.
  • Optimize and nourish beneficial business relationships with Dayton Live’s multiple vendors, including touring Broadway, agents, artists, and contractors.
  • Ensure that Dayton Live competes for the best touring Broadway.
  • Represent Dayton Live at APAP, ISPA, PACC, IAVM, Ohio Arts Presenters Network, and the multiple industry and community groups with which it interacts.
  • Enthusiastically communicate the unique contributions of Dayton Live to the performing arts world, the regional economy, and well-being of community members, and effectively advocate Dayton Live’s interests in political spheres.
  • Explore and pursue new trends in performing arts programming, including immersive programs and the further use of technology.

Revenue Generation

  • Partner closely with the Chief Development Officer in growing the fundraising infrastructure.
  • With the support of the Board of Trustees and Chief Development Officer, co-lead the fundraising activities by identifying, cultivating, and soliciting gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
  • Maintains direct contact and relationships with local, state, and federal public entities funding the arts.
  • Maximize ticketing, rental, self-presentation, and ancillary income while balancing the artistic vision and mission of the organization.
  • Proactively identify and develop additional revenue sources in alignment with the institution’s vision and goals.

Administrative Management

  • Maintain policies, procedures, operational and communication protocols that promote the organization’s purpose, mission, core values, vision, and culture.
  • Lead a highly functional senior leadership team; direct, evaluate, enable, and inspire a group of arts management professionals to help achieve the purpose and full potential of the organization.
  • Assists the Board of Trustees in recruiting and training new members, committees, and advisory bodies.
  • Manage and strengthen relationships with Montgomery County, the City of Dayton, the Dayton Public Schools Board, and other downtown and regional development partners.
  • Forecast and manage operating and capital activity against budget; evaluate business performance by analyzing and interpreting data and key performance indicators.
  • Assures the highest standards of professionalism in artistic, organizational, and customer service practices of Dayton Live.


The President & CEO is a visionary, entrepreneurial leader – a performing arts executive who is able to think creatively and strategically, build consensus among the Board and various stakeholders, and deliver on short- and long-term initiatives. Critically, this person must have extensive knowledge of touring Broadway and other commercial live arts and entertainment productions combined with successful experience leveraging income-driven activities to achieve mission-driven outcomes. The President & CEO must possess a high level of acumen and accomplishment managing the uniquely complex business model of a nonprofit corporation that owns and operates its venues to serve the diverse interests of a plurality of stakeholders and is reliant on earned revenue to meet budgetary obligations. The President & CEO is furthermore an influential figure in the regional political, social, and economic landscape and must exhibit a high degree of comfort in visible, public settings combined with exceptional communication and relationship-building ability. Ambition, vision, and excellent business skills and entrepreneurial drive, combined with a deep respect for the arts and nonprofit culture, are essential characteristics of the successful President & CEO.

Qualified candidates will have:

  • Leadership skills and behaviors demonstrating self-awareness, empathy, the ability to analyze complex management situations, and the ability to lead, influence, and build consensus on a range of topics among multiple constituents.
  • Experience working in a presenting or performing arts organization with a proven ability to design and control a sustainable financial model and continually improve the bottom line through increased income generation and expense management.
  • Experience developing and implementing strategic plans and master plans for arts organizations.
  • The ability and desire to engage major donors, corporate supporters, individual donors, and governmental leaders and partners in supporting Dayton Live’s goals.
  • Proven ability to manage, mentor, and motivate a professional staff.
  • An analytical approach to business development, with the ability to gather and synthesize data and to make calculated business investment decisions based on the data.
  • The ability to assess and account for risks of all types, including business risk, security risk, cyber risk, etc.
  • Proven ability to effectively manage immediate challenges and problem solve in unexpected and/or urgent situations.
  • A demonstrated sense of marketing, with experience increasing earned income from ticket sales, licensing, facility rentals, and creating new opportunities for earned income.
  • An advanced understanding of and demonstrated commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Access.
  • A personal connection to Dayton and/or a genuine interest in joining the Dayton community, personally and professionally.
  • Exceptional and effective communication skills, verbal and written, and the ability to publicly communicate to a variety of audiences.
  • Demonstrated ability to convey complex ideas in a simple and concise manner that achieves understanding and inspires action.


  • Unwavering integrity and unimpeachable personal ethics
  • Diplomatic acuity and high emotional intelligence
  • Superb public communication and relationship-building
  • Aspirational vision combined with demonstrated strategic execution
  • Healthy combination of confidence and humility
  • Forward thinking and proactive approach to problem-solving
  • Self-motivation with relentless enthusiasm and energy
  • Inspirational leadership style
  • Passion for the performing arts and personal alignment with Dayton Live’s mission, purpose, and values


James Abruzzo
Vice Chairman
New York, NY

Michele Counter
Partner, Nonprofit Practice
Raleigh, NC

Philip DeBoer
Partner, Nonprofit Practice
Miami, FL


Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top