Artistic Directors Entrance Program


The Artistic Director Entrance Program is designed to prepare new artistic directors for their first three months on the job, work with key collaborators such as the manager partner and board leader, and provide ongoing structured counsel for 3-6 months. We feel that this early period is critical to setting the foundation for a healthy and productive integration into the organization. 

Boards have invested in the Search process: it makes sense to ensure that this investment has the best opportunity for success. 

Unlike managing or executive directors who usually have institutional experience in previous administrative positions, a newly-appointed artistic director might come from the free-lance field or be part of a smaller organization. Often this artist is hired for their on stage work and ability to communicate their vision during the search process, but is not prepared for the multiple new relationships and demands of the position. Theater Leader has developed a program to provide practical information and guidance to set-up the artist for success.


“There are no dumb questions” is a refrain we hear when presented with new material – but the last thing a new artistic director wants to do is sound inexperienced or uninformed. Theater Leader will confidentially go over the following documents and policies before the artist’s first day in the office:

  • By-Laws and Board Policies
  • Audits, Balance Sheets, and Profit/Loss Statements
  • Job Descriptions and Organizational Charts
  • Strategic Plans
  • Historical Attendance and Sales Reports

Theater Leader will also help the new artistic director develop a 90-Day Plan to launch the new leader internally and externally. Time will be taken to discuss best practices in relating to trustees, staff, audiences, guest artists, donors, and the community at large. 


Sometime during the first two weeks of starting the new position at the theater, we will be onsite for two days of working discussions with key internal collaborators. With the artistic director these include the managing/executive partner, board leader, production manager, education & literary heads, and other senior team members as appropriate. These wide-ranging sessions cover topics likely to be encountered sometime in the first year of working together. It is helpful to anticipate these moments, and build trust early that will be needed later.

The two-day onsite period will also be a time for adjusting the 90-Day Plan, and facilitating other overviews such as a SWOT analysis, if requested. 

WEEKS 3-12

Following the onsite visit, Theater Leader will conduct weekly, 30-minute video chats with the artistic director to confidentially counsel on that week’s issues and surprises, as well as update the 90-Day Plan. 

WEEKS 13-26 (Optional)

Theater Leader provides ongoing mentoring and coaching through video chats as needed. There is no question that relationships with staff, trustees, donors and other stakeholders are the hardest to understand and manage. Confidential perspective is the best way for a new leader to feel confident in their thinking and decision-making.


The fee for the ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S ENTRANCE PROGRAM is $3,750. This includes all Pre-Boarding, Onsite, and Video Chats through the first 12 weeks. Subsequent video sessions are billed at the standard rate of $90/half hour. Travel costs such as transportation and lodging are not included.