Career Opportunity: Center Specialist in the Visual Arts

Barbara Kasten, Axis (detail), 2015, video projection, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Constance Mensh. Courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage employs a staff of talented, motivated individuals with experience and interest in the nonprofit and/or arts and culture sectors. We are currently seeking candidates for the open, full-time position of Center Specialist in the visual arts, with expertise in contemporary visual art, including knowledge of performance practice that grows out of visual art and other hybrid forms. The job is an ideal, early-career position for a clear, and intellectually flexible thinker and communicator who understands the need for discretion, has good organizational judgment, and works well as part of a team.

You will facilitate and substantively contribute to the work of the Center by providing programmatic content, and engage with planning and critical day-to-day oversight of program operations involving grantmaking, capacity-building activities, and general administration across multiple disciplines. Under the Executive Director’s strategic leadership, report to and thoughtfully partner with the Director of Exhibitions & Public Interpretation (EPI) on program strategy to actively generate ideas for capacity-building programming, publications and other events that advance the Center’s mission. Capably manage Program in Director’s absence as called upon. Work with the Directors of Performance and Pew Fellowships, as appropriate and as requested, on program related matters. Articulate the Center’s vision and mission well, have a clear and full understanding of the Center’s relationship to its funder (The Pew Charitable Trusts), and represent the Center effectively whenever called upon to do so.

You’ll need to stay current on developments in grantmaking, contemporary art, and especially in the primary field of expertise in visual art. Knowledge about performance practice that grows out of visual art, and genres emergent from or based in visual art culture is desirable. Bring that knowledge to bear on the Center’s work, actively and proactively sharing trends, critical issues around cultural practice, and other relevant information with the Directors and other staff, engaging and making contributions across multiple disciplines within the Center.

You’ll support the Center’s efforts to identify and connect with nationally recognized thought leaders, with whom the Center seeks to engage as panelists or as partners in dialogue on issues critical to cultural practice. As requested and appropriate, enhance the Center’s communications strategy through thought-provoking content generation based on a solid core of knowledge. Willingly pitch ideas, speak up respectfully and provide cogent written analysis based on real research and data, as requested. Analogize your thinking across disciplines to bring insight and criticality to all the Center’s activities, understanding and taking into account the Center’s unique relationship to its funder and the context that creates for all programmatic decision making.

Work closely with the EPI Director and, when appropriate, the other Center Program Directors in maintaining Center relationships with multiple external parties by representing, interpreting and explaining the Center’s grants process to applicants, grantees and other constituents, elevating major issues, final constituent decisions and precedent-setting requests to the Directors. Serve as a “matchmaker” for Center constituents, helping them forge professional relationships they might not otherwise be able to form with national and international peers and innovators. Manage site visits as appropriate. Conduct informational and/or initial meetings with applicants/constituents, maintaining ongoing communication with grantees, as requested by the program Director. With the Directors and at their request, research and identify program consultants and panelists; conceive and realize publications and professional development activities including workshops, consultations and field trips. Review and confer with Directors as appropriate and as invited on discretionary grants. Prepare grantee paperwork as requested.

You’ll supervise activities of Program Associates (PAs) and work cooperatively with other Center personnel, ensuring smooth and efficient day-to-day operations. Proactively develop opportunities for cross-disciplinary programs that align with the Center’s strategic vision and mission. Actively participate in Specialist Team activities, sharing and leveraging others’ knowledge, experiences and ideas for the benefit of the Center. Contribute to the Center commons, sharing perspectives and learning. Actively participate as a team member in other Centerwide activities, including event planning and execution.

Experience & Qualifications

To be selected, you’ll need a Master’s degree/MFA in arts practice or administration and/or related fields or equivalent experience, with approximately five years of relevant work experience that is aligned with the forms of cultural practice exemplified by the grantees of the Center (preferred). The job requires a strong knowledge of the field within a local, national, and international context. If you are our ideal candidate you will have significant early-career training or curatorial experience in the visual arts as well as literacy with performance genres and practices emanating from the visual arts.

We require strong organizational skills and an aptitude for program development and administration. It’s essential to have a deep knowledge of and commitment to fields of artistic endeavor, and current awareness of artistic practice that extends nationally/internationally and access to networks of people who can also be important potential resources for the Center. You must have a track record of demonstrating well-cultivated intellectual curiosity and a speculative intelligence coupled with proven success in both disciplinary and cross-disciplinary practices and activities. You should be known for generous expression of your ideas and solid arguments bolstered by critical thinking, and excellent written and oral communication skills. The job requires effective interpersonal skills to successfully interact with a variety of people, including the cultural community, consultants, grant recipients, applicants, colleagues at The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the general public with diverse cultures and backgrounds. You need to be appropriately subtle, courteous, and effective when expressing criticism or redirecting feedback, ensuring that the recipients hear and understand the intended message.

We require strong problem-solving skills, focused not just on the issues at hand, but on anticipating future issues and questions. You must be familiar with the nature and operations of arts organizations and individual artists’ endeavors. You must be skilled in complex event planning. We require solid composition, proofreading and editing skills that ensure accuracy, grammatical correctness, style appropriateness, formatting consistency and overall completeness of documents and web content. Fluency is required in the Microsoft Office Suite (Excel, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint) as well as familiarity with Adobe Acrobat. Experience and proficiency with Salesforce is helpful. You must be comfortable assembling and operating basic A/V equipment.

A valid driver’s license and ability to drive are preferred. You must be able to attend meetings and events which are after standard business hours or on weekends.

Interested, qualified applicants should submit letters of application, resumes, and two writing samples via email to Please ensure job title is in the Subject line.

The University of the Arts is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Roger LaMay is general manager at WXPN (88.5 FM), a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania.

An Advancement grant to The Franklin Institute will support a two-year digital media initiative that will enhance the organization’s interpretive programming and audience engagement.

Grants & Grantees

Carol Shloss is a nonfiction writer and a 1994 Pew Fellow.

Questions of Practice

Katharina Grosse’s epic psychylustro—a five-mile-long “painting” sprayed intermittently along a stretch of train tracks in northeast Philadelphia—challenges a number of assumptions about the role of both painting and public art. Here, urbanist Randy Mason offers his perspective.

Grants & Grantees

Michael Olszewski is a visual artist and a 2003 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Theater artist Thaddeus Phillips, a 2002 Pew Fellow, will create a new bilingual performance work for theater, inspired by his experience working on Colombian telenovela Alias El Mexicano.

Questions of Practice

Osby is an award-winning contemporary jazz musician, a 2012 Pew Fellow, and the recipient of such honors as a Doris Duke Composition Fellowship and the Chamber Music America Composers Award.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Dance Iquail’s artistic director, Iquail Shaheed, seeks to create dance projects that tell stories not frequently heard in the performing arts, and to engage with audiences drawn from Mantua, the West Philadelphia neighborhood where he grew up.

The Conservation Center for Arts & Historic Artifacts is one of the country’s largest non-profit conservation labs.

Founded in 1910, International House Philadelphia (IHP) presents cultural programs in the areas of music, exhibitions, and cinema—the latter being its flagship program.

Grants & Grantees

The Wilma Theater produced the U.S. premiere of Tadeusz Słobodzianek’a play, which, beginning in a Polish primary-school classroom in 1925, follows 10 students—five Catholics and five Jews—over 80 years.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Cynthia Mayeda has been the deputy director for institutional advancement at the Brooklyn Museum since 1998.