SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.— The search for an executive director for the South Orange Performing Arts Center is under way, with Linda Onorevole, director of development, serving in the position in the interim.
The private firm Arts Consulting Group has been hired to conduct the search. A job ad posted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy stated that SOPAC is looking for someone with seven to 10 years in a leadership role with a nonprofit arts organization. The position offers a “competitive compensation and benefits package.”
Onorevole said the search should be concluded by February or March. “We are looking for a seasoned arts administrator who can effectively guide SOPAC's artistic direction and who has a history of significant fundraising success, experience collaborating with diverse constituencies, and a strong focus on arts education as an important and necessary role in an organization’s overall offerings,” she said.
Former director Michael Bollinger left in August after serving since September 2010. SOPAC has been struggling financially since it opened its doors six years ago.
At a South Orange Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 22, Dana Britto, an associate with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, presented a report on SOPAC, noting that “regularly covering expenses has been a challenge” for the arts organization, which has an overall operating budget of about $2 million.
Despite its most successful season yet in terms of attendance and ticket sales, the organization is about $200,000 behind in paying its bills. She noted that any solution would need to come from a combination of actions, including an infusion of cash, higher revenues and a reduction in expenses.
“Taking the building off SOPAC’s hands will help,” she noted, referring to discussions about the village assuming the responsibility for the mortgage of the downtown facility. In addition, she is recommending increased attention to fundraising.
According to the ad for the position, the executive director will be “responsible for the overall management and artistic direction of the organization. She/he identifies, in tandem with board and senior staff, goals and strategies to ensure the financial stability and artistic vitality of the institution.”
Onorevole, the interim director, has served as the director of development at SOPAC for the past two years. Onorevole is the former executive director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony and former assistant executive director of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society. She has more than 10 years of experience working for nonprofit arts organizations.
Amy Kiste Nyberg contributed to this article. The reporters are participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.