The Black Theatre Company at The District Theatre Seeks Founding Artistic Director

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The Black Theatre Company at The District Theatre Seeks Founding Artistic Director


The District Theatre (TDT), a supporting organization of Indianapolis Foundation and Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), seeks an innovative, collaborative visionary to serve as the Founding Artistic Director of a Black professional Equity theatre. The mission of The District Theatre is to enrich and strengthen the community by presenting, supporting, and amplifying the voices of performing artists, particularly those  who represent the diversity of the human experience.

The top priority of The District Theatre is to help resource the founding and sustainability of a Black professional Equity theatre in residence at TDT, and also support the Black theatre ecosystem in Indianapolis. TDT has spent the last three years exploring opportunities, fundraising to ensure financial stability, and engaging the Black arts community, and is well-positioned to launch a national search to identify the Founding Artistic Director who will provide the vision for a Black professional Equity theatre company in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ultimately, the Black theatre company will produce 3 productions in the first year, increasing to a total of 4 productions each year. Other companies and productions will also be producing in The District Theatre, but priority in scheduling will be given to the Black professional Equity theatre company.

To ensure a successful launching of a Black professional equity theatre, TDT has engaged in substantial fundraising enabling the Founding Artistic Director ample time to plan and  build an exciting program, engage the local arts and philanthropic communities, and be positioned to continue the friend-making necessary for long-term success and sustainability. As of May 1, 2023, The District Theatre has raised more than half of the $2  million goal that will provide the Founding Artistic Director with funding for the first four seasons with annual budgets averaging $500,000 per season. The majority of the money made through tickets sales and annual fundraising during those first four seasons can be used to produce future seasons. The District Theatre will also provide the venue at no cost for those first four seasons and provide other in-kind support.

The Founding Artistic Director will hire and work closely with a General Manager to develop annual program budgets and other activities related to establishing a successful theatre company. TDT is looking for an experienced, enthusiastic, and innovative Founding Artistic Director who will create the identity of this new adventure.

Black Professional Equity Theatre vision 

TDT believes that in a city where the population is nearing 30% Black, one way to increase racial equity is to change the narrative about Black history and culture by centering Black playwrights and artists, the more the better. TDT believes it is time for Black theatre artists to have more professional opportunities and more attention paid to their stories as curated and told by Black artists. TDT will be the home of this new Black professional Equity theatre company offering permanent performing space with two theatres in one location in a thriving downtown cultural district.

Primary Responsibilities of the Founding Artistic Director:

  • Identifying and successfully producing theatre that tells the story of the Black experience
  • Hiring and supervising directors, performers, set designers, stage managers, etc.
  • Regularly evaluating personnel and productions with an eye toward excellence
  • Developing budgets, with assistance of General Manager
  • Partnering with the Black theatre company’s General Manager and Board of Directors in fundraising to ensure the continued success of the Black theatre company
  • Serving as the Black Equity theatre’s spokesperson, sharing the artistic vision and mission of the organization with constituents, donors, community members and the  arts community
  • Establishing strong relationships within the Black arts movement by attending productions, participating on community boards/committees and supporting other Black artists and companies throughout the city
  • Providing regular reports to the Black theatre company board

Successful Applicants Will Bring: 

  • A visionary spirit and ability to select Black productions that engage, entertain and tell the story of Black life from a Black perspective.
  • The capacity to utilize Black cultural work to confront and interrupt white supremacist valuations of what theatre and performance should entail
  • Significant theatre experience in one or more of the following areas (producing,  directing, acting, writing, arts marketing, organizational management with theatre experience).
  • Understanding of the historical framing which created and sustains resistance-based activity such as the Black Arts Movement; the revolutionary potential of Black theatre and the myriad ways art works as advocacy within society.
  • Administrative, management, financial and people skills
  • Excellent communication and management skills and a willingness to serve as a transparent leader.
  • Knowledge of and passion for the Black experience, history, literature, culture and expression with all of its complexities.
  • Experience in successful friend- and fundraising campaigns
  • A willingness and ability to build diverse external relationships and collaborate with members of the Black arts community, locally and nationally
  • Excellent leadership and planning skills
  • Ability to support/mentor personnel
  • Willingness to help build and participate in the Black theatre board

Much of TDT’s planning has been guided by the words of Pulitzer and Tony-Award  recipient August Wilson on the Role of Black Theatre: 

  • To correct distortions of Black history
  • To reclaim a collective Black mindset
  • To restore Black spirits crushed by white oppressors
  • To rebuild Black dignity and self esteem
  • To state Black issues in vernacular terms
  • To provide a venue and source of income for Black talent
  • To showcase Black tastes, values, and autonomy
  • To present characters and stories that uplift the Black self-image
  • To celebrate the endurance of a Black minority in an overwhelmingly white society
  • To legitimize Black ethics, pride and values in theatricals that are uniquely African American

TDT hopes to find a Founding Artistic Director who will unashamedly embrace August Wilson’s vision.

The starting salary for the Founding Artistic Director will be $75,000 per year and a generous benefits package. Raises are built into the budget pro-forma beginning with the second full year of production.

Application Process

Please forward a cover letter, resume, reference list with contact information (email and telephone) to: 

The committee will begin reviewing applications in June 2023 with a start date for the Founding Artistic Director in the fall of 2023, as negotiated.

Just as The District Theatre has increased the presence of Black and Brown voices on its  board, the search committee for the Founding Artistic Director is intentionally and unapologetically inclusive of the Black artistic community and TDT board members committed to the success of the Founding Artistic Director and the Black professional Equity theatre. IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Karen Dace is TDT Vice Chair and chair of the Founding Artistic Director Search Committee.