California Arts Council

State of California

Arts Jobs - Detail

Executive Director
San Diego Art Institute

San Diego, CA

Executive Director

Full-Time with Benefits, Salary Commensurate with Experience

Established in 1941, the San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) is a well-respected center for contemporary art from the Southern California/Baja Norte region.  SDAI is committed to exhibiting and fostering emerging and established contemporary artists from the bi-national region, and to expanding its regional, national, and international reputation. With 6 exhibitions annually in its main Balboa Park location, 8 exhibitions in the SDAI Project Space in Horton Plaza, an active artist-in-residence program, more than 100 lectures, performances, educational and social programs per year, as well as a robust youth arts education program, the SDAI is a critical component of San Diego’s arts and cultural landscape.


Guided by SDAI’s mission and a commitment to the arts, as well as a recent strategic plan, the Executive Director will provide informed and compelling leadership and build consensus with staff and stakeholders. The SDAI currently has an operating budget of $600,000 annually, and a staff of six. The Executive Director will integrate operations, fundraising, fiscal management, and public engagement. The Executive Director, along with the Board of Directors and various committees, will take an active role in private and public fundraising by increasing both earned and contributed income. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and oversees the staff. The position requires a high energy, innovative, goal-oriented individual who demonstrates a great appreciation for and understanding of contemporary art from the Southern California/Baja Norte region.


  • Experience in guiding and directing dynamic, forward-thinking, multidisciplinary contemporary art organizations, preferably in the Southern California/Baja region.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of standards and best practices for museums and/or nonprofit organizations.
  • Proven, forward-thinking leadership for a comparable art centers, with experience furthering its mission, vision and strategic plan.
  • Demonstrated success in fund development including major and planned gifts, grantwriting, and support from private and corporate donors.
  • Experience collaborating with the board and staff on strategic goals and priorities.
  • Management and implementation of annual operating plans and budgets.
  • Measurable efforts to enhance the operations and maximize funding and development opportunities, membership, and community engagement.
  • Supervision, mentorship and support of staff by building an environment of transparency, trust and respect.
  • Experience as a spokesperson with local, regional, and national media, and leadership in the contemporary art field to expand visibility.
  • Successful experience in visioning, strategic direction, and program and exhibition development.
  • Experience working with a Board of Directors.


  • The Executive Director will forge a positive, trusting working relationship with the Board of Directors, participate in all Board meetings, advise the Board of all matters affecting SDAI and its performance, including any potentially significant development which is strategic, reputational, cultural, or financial in nature. This responsibility will include reaching out to valuable key stakeholders to ensure that they remain informed and involved.
  • The Executive Director will be responsible for managing, motivating, nurturing, and evaluating SDAI staff. The Executive Director will delegate appropriate responsibility and accountability among staff members and volunteers. The Executive Director will hire and terminate staff when necessary.
  • The Executive Director will oversee the preservation and maintenance of SDAI’s physical assets including security, repairs, renovations, and alterations.
  • The Executive Director will work with the Board of Directors to develop and maintain a sound financial position, including fundraising and securing grants, corporate support, and individual donors.
  • The Executive Director will manage SDAI in a fiscally responsible manner, taking into consideration the additional financial implications of developing new programming.
  • The Executive Director will generate interest and excitement, through innovative programming, that will inspire and motivate artists, the Board, staff, volunteers, and the public to support and frequent SDAI.
  • The Executive Director will identify and encourage opportunities to offer exhibitions that advance SDAI’s profile and reputation. This task will include working closely with artists, experts, consultants, and the art community to develop innovative programs, exhibitions, cultural exchanges, conservation, collaborations, and other activities that further the mission of SDAI.
  • The Executive Director will sustain SDAI’s education outreach and explore opportunities to expand the community’s knowledge of contemporary art. This outreach will include an understanding of, and access to, SDAI’s galleries by developing stimulating exhibitions, interpretive programs, and events that are informed by trends in contemporary art.
  • The Executive Director will develop strategies to market SDAI as a destination that has a regional, national, and international presence by reaching out to peers in Southern California/Baja, and exploring opportunities for collaboration to enhance marketing efforts.
  • The Executive Director will work with the staff to enlarge and diversify SDAI’s audience so that SDAI will be an active and visible part of San Diego’s and Southern California/Baja’s civic life and culture.
  • The Executive Director will act as the chief development officer and ensure that SDAI fulfills its fundraising and financial goals, strategic plan, and operations.
  • The Executive Director will cultivate an environment that encourages the visiting public to re-visit.


Solid organizational and time management skills and ability to prioritize and multi-task; excellent interpersonal communication skills; demonstrated professional public presence and strong curatorial, programming, and fundraising background;  ability to communicate with an ethnically and culturally diverse community and assist in achieving SDAI’s mission and strategic plan; experience on Mac and PC platforms. SDAI is a fun, casual, and collaborative workplace; a sense of humor is a must.


Master’s Degree in Art History, Museum Studies, or Business Administration with a working knowledge of contemporary art; 6-10 years professional experience in arts administration including prior supervisory, financial, and administrative experience; demonstrated experience in developing and implementing programs and curating contemporary art exhibitions; excellent organizational and computer skills; ability to develop constructive and cooperative cross-border relationships. Fluency in Spanish a plus.


Send a one-page cover letter and CV in PDF format by email with “EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR” in the subject line to by June 1, 2017. Applicants will be contacted only if an interview is requested.

San Diego Art Institute provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, San Diego Art Institute complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

San Diego Art Institute expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status. Improper interference with the ability of San Diego Art Institute’s employees to perform their job duties may result in discipline up to and including discharge.

Deadline: 06-01-2017

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