Program Director, Culture, Arts and Open Society Program

Open Society Foundations
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Advanced
  • Posted
    Jun 08

Position description

Program Director, Culture, Arts and Open Society Program. New York. Posting Date: 06/07/2019. Deadline: 06/30/2019

Open Society Foundations (OSF) has a rich legacy of engagement with arts and culture to advance open societies since George Soros began his philanthropy in the 1980s. Nurturing spaces that support and increase the capacity of artistic and cultural practice to evolve, evoke, engage, inspire and catalyze social change remains a core tenet of OSF's work. In response to growing threats to freedom of expression and suppression of rights globally, recent initiatives and programs have sought to strengthen the field of individuals, artists, activists and organizations increasing civic participation, upholding justice and rights through arts, and build understanding around the intersections of culture, art and social change.

The newly formed Culture, Arts and Open Society Program integrates the work of OSF's Documentary Photography Program and Arts Exchange with a mission to engage with multiple artistic mediums and platforms including visual arts, documentary forms, literature, performing arts, interactive media, experimental work, and archival projects to expand closing spaces and empower marginalized communities globally. The program will utilize a range of tools including grant making, capacity building, and organization of forums and exchanges to thoughtfully support the field in increasingly challenging times.

The program's key objectives will include:
  • Elevating the practices of diverse artists, cultural tradition bearers and cultural producers working from positions of marginalization;
  • Fortifying locally-led cultural spaces; and
  • Engaging local foundations and programs across the OSF network to respond strategically to emerging opportunities in the arts.


Job Profile

The director will lead a team of professionals based in New York dedicated to the new program including staff from the Documentary Photography Program and Arts Exchange. The director will assess, guide, and nurture all existing grant making commitments and lead engagement in new work. A skilled people manager and project leader, the director is expected to effectively supervise and grow program staff members, including through thoughtful attention to individual performance reviews, professional development, and mentoring as required.

In addition to managing the Culture, Arts and Open Society Program's strategy, budget and interventions, the director provides leadership in building the whole OSF network's capacity to engage with arts and cultural practice as a tool to advance open society values. This element requires active participation and frequent collaboration with other thematic and geographic programs, foundations, departments, units, boards, and entities within OSF. The director may be called upon to participate in working groups and discussions on topics other than arts and culture related to the Open Society network.

The successful candidate will be a respected and experienced participant in the arts and culture field and will remain current on industry trends, debates, and innovations to build working, fruitful relationships with leading funders and thinkers, individuals and organizations.

Typical duties and responsibilities include the following:
  • Sets underlying cohesion to the Culture, Arts and Open Society Program's initiatives; identifies new approaches and opportunities to develop and leverage the Program's work internally and externally
  • Accountable for integrating diverse functional areas into a comprehensive strategy, designing and evaluating program elements, and managing significant grants and operational budgets
  • Remains constantly attuned to the funding landscape for arts and culture; utilizes a substantive analysis to strategize transformational programming that can catalyze other actors
  • Oversees performance and quality control for all internal policies and processes
  • Develops an empowering and enabling environment for the program's team and contributes to the advancement of this across the organization, as part of OSF's Senior Leadership Group.
  • Leads with humility and integrity and conducts all aspects of professional and personal engagements with trust, respect and accountability
  • Manages complex relationships of high sensitivity, including relationships with other OSF Programs, external organizations, OSF Board and advisory bodies


Candidate Profile
  • Personal and professional alignment to the core mission and values of OSF and in excess of 15 years' progressively responsible experience within the field of arts and culture
  • Strong understanding of arts and culture through the prism of advancing social change; demonstrable experience of lifting the voice and agency of underrepresented communities through artistic and cultural forms
  • Highly developed understanding of the interplay between developments around freedom of expression globally and its impact on arts and cultural producers
  • A noted contributor to at least one medium of socially engaged artistic and cultural expression; ardent consumer across the spectrum of arts and cultural practice
  • Experienced in the design and implementation of impactful strategy and programming
  • Ability to grow and leverage key relationships within networks active in the field in order to further programmatic goals
  • Prior management experience and proven success in developing cohesive teams; growing the professional capacities of team members.
  • Excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences
  • Experience in planning and managing significant budgets, maintaining high standards of fiscal governance
  • Values cultural differences and human diversity; experienced in creating inclusive and enabling environments internally and externally
  • Possesses a strong global outlook; experience of working and/or living internationally preferred
  • Ability to undertake frequent travel


Competitive rates of pay apply.

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations. We welcome applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, and are committed to providing reasonable adjustments so that colleagues with disabilities are able to fulfill the essential functions of the job.
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