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Artistic Director


Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA, is seeking candidates for the role of Artistic Director, serving as the creative leader of one of Southern California’s flagship theaters. Founded in 1995, the Geffen is known for producing innovative new plays and musicals and bold interpretations of classic repertoire in its intimate and welcoming theaters in West Los Angeles. It contributes to the rich cultural fabric of the city and to the national theater scene with an expansive set of production offerings, new work development, and education and community engagement initiatives. The new Artistic Director will join an organization motivated by excellence and dedicated to new artistic perspectives and creative storytelling, firmly rooted in its Los Angeles environment and having a significant impact on theater nationwide.

The Geffen is located in Westwood, adjacent to the University of California, Los Angeles, and plays an important role in its neighborhood. Originally founded in collaboration with UCLA, which owns the theater building and contributes to its operating costs as part of a decades-long lease agreement, the Geffen is a wholly separate non-profit entity; both it and the University mutually benefit from their shared commitment to creative and educational partnerships.

The Geffen is a key organization in the expansive arts and culture landscape of Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest city. Widely known for its world-class theater, music, and visual art – as well as being the heart of the film and television industry – Los Angeles is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in the U.S. The Geffen seeks to serve the full spectrum of Angelinos with its work. Its next Artistic Director will be an engaging and persuasive leader as well as a passionate and eager advocate for the theater’s outreach, engagement, and connection with the city. For more information: https://www.geffenplayhouse.org/


The Geffen’s next Artistic Director will join Executive Director Gil Cates, Jr. in a co-leadership structure, each reporting to the Board of Directors. Matt Shakman, after five years as Artistic Director, stepped down from the post in February of this year to focus on film and television projects, but will remain on the Board of Directors. There are currently 25 Board members, including business leaders, artists, educators and philanthropists. Adi Greenberg is Board Chair.

Gil Cates, Jr. became the Executive Director of Geffen Playhouse in 2015 and is responsible for day-to-day operations and developing new, ongoing theater partnerships. Prior to being named Executive Director, he served as Vice Chairman Board of Directors. Gil is an accomplished theater, film and television producer, director and writer. His full bio may be found here.


The Geffen currently operates on an annual budget of approximately $12 million, which supports a full-time staff of 47 and 160 seasonal and project-specific employees. They are a LORT member theater operating under AEA, SDC, and other union collective bargaining agreements. In addition to their yearly operating budget, the Geffen recently announced the public phase of a $25 million endowment campaign; they have raised more than $13.5 million towards this goal.

Each season generally includes five productions in the 500-seat Gil Cates Theater and between two and four productions in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater (ASK), a flexible black box space. Recent programming includes the celebrated and ambitious West Coast premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance; the world premieres of The Lonely Few (Zoe Sarnak/Rachel Bonds) and The Ants (Ramiz Monsef); and the innovative and highly successful COVID-era virtual program, the Geffen Stayhouse. The Geffen has been a home for a diverse group of writers and artists for more than 25 years, including Bryan Cranston, Colman Domingo, Larissa Fasthorse, Andy Garcia, Chris Pine, Sarah Jones, Annette Bening and Qui Nguyen, and its stages have featured noted performances by world-class actors such as Laurence Fishburne, Calista Flockhart, Dulé Hill, Zachary Quinto, Debbie Allen, Idina Menzel, among many others.

The Geffen serves 115,000 audience members annually, and their education and community engagement programs inspire an additional 10,000 students and community members to develop a lifelong relationship with theater. Click here for a full production history.

The Geffen’s artistic programming reflects a commitment to transforming the landscape of contemporary American theater, and Geffen Playhouse has produced more than 45 world premieres to date. They develop 20-30 new plays and musicals each year through workshops and readings, and feature an active commissioning program as well as The Writers’ Room, which serves Los Angeles-based playwrights. Click here for more about Geffen's development work.


Education and community engagement play a pivotal role in the Geffen. Through several successful programs, they serve thousands of community members each year –students, veterans, seniors, and community-serving organizations.

High School Partnerships Program: Over 1,000 youth living in neighborhoods of high poverty, childhood trauma and high school dropout rates attend plays at the Geffen Playhouse, engage in meaningful conversations with the artists, work closely with Teaching Artists before and after each play, and participate in artistic writing and speaking exercises, unlocking their confidence, critical thinking skills, voices and potential in life.

The Literacy Project: An immersive full school year program that combines theater workshops and attendance at Geffen Playhouse performances with one-on-one literacy coaching for 10th graders; Literacy Coaches from UCLA Center X and Geffen Teaching Artists work with students on essay writing and other skills, using themes and topics from the plays they attend.

Lights Up: Over 1,000 participants from 50+ community non-profit and social service organizations serving a wide range of populations with limited arts access - including seniors, foster youth, adults transitioning out of homelessness, and veterans - attend a full season of plays, receive Study Guides, attend workshops with Teaching Artists, and meet and interact with Geffen artists.

Veterans Writing & Performance Project: a 10-week theater intensive for military veterans of all ages, branches, and backgrounds, who come together to create personal, original monologues and share their work in a performance at the Gil Cates Theater or online.

Storytelling Workshop for Young Adults & Senior Adult Writing Workshop: 6-week workshops for college-aged and senior adults, culminating in a performance for friends and family.


The next Artistic Director will join a highly respected organization with a strong financial foundation, high performing staff and committed board. Among the opportunities for Geffen Playhouse, and the next Artistic Director are these:

  • Leveraging Geffen’s resources, reputation and geography to produce new work and re-envisioned classics.

  • Embracing the balance of accessibility and risk that has been a hallmark of Geffen’s programming.

  • Developing a strategic artistic plan that will inspire audiences, donors, and staff.

  • Tapping into the extraordinary pool of artists in Los Angeles.

  • Seeking opportunities to deepen and broaden Geffen’s digital program delivery.

Along with these opportunities, there are challenges the next Artistic Director must embrace in concert with the Executive Director and Board, including these:

  • Balancing ambition with financial and human resources.

  • Programming at a time when audience numbers remain lower than pre-pandemic.

  • Competing for audiences in a highly competitive market.

  • Finding the right formula for programming in the ASK space.


Working in a co-leadership role with the Executive Director, the primary responsibilities of the Artistic Director are these:

  1. Set a strategic artistic course for Geffen that will inspire audiences, donors, staff and board.

  2. Seek out stories that will entertain, touch and effect the cultural landscape Los Angeles.

  3. In concert with the Executive Director, create and sustain a work culture of esprit de corps, supporting the best work of every artist, artisan and administrator.

  4. Hire, lead and support the artistic and production teams.

  5. Provide leadership in imbuing IDEA values throughout Geffen.

  6. Serve as principal in fund-raising efforts, particularly with major donors.

  7. Be a key and important voice of Geffen in business and social settings, helping to elevate the organization’s profile locally, regionally, and nationally.

  8. Engage fully with the Geffen Board of Directors in a commitment to collective leadership.

  9. In this leadership role with the Executive Director, ensure that organizational, financial, and business affairs of Geffen are viable and sustainable.


While no one person may meet all of these qualifications, the Search Committee will be guided by these skills and experiences in their evaluation of candidates:

  1. Significant background as a highly successful stage director, producer, playwright or other artistic roles. Although the Committee has indicated a preference for candidates who are successful stage directors, this is not a prerequisite.

  2. Extraordinary knowledge of theater, including the classical canon as well as current and emerging playwrights and their work.

  3. A strategic artistic thinker relative to organizational vision and growth.

  4. A proven collaborator, able to develop a strong working relationship with the Executive Director, Board, and staff.

  5. Although previous top artistic director experience is not a prerequisite, prior artistic management roles in institutional environments will be a plus.

  6. Understanding of all areas of income generation, including audience development and fundraising, with an ability to serve as a key leader of contributed revenue efforts.

  7. A keen relationship builder not only with artistic collaborators, but also with major donors and community leaders.

  8. Proven producing skills, particularly around managing human and financial resources.

  9. An innovator.

The following personal attributes are also important to the Search Committee:

  1. Exceptional communication skills in both speaking and writing.

  2. Taking satisfaction in serving as an ambassador in business and social settings.

  3. A transparent, collaborative, and confident leadership style, able to find real satisfaction in achieving the best work in others.

  4. A sense of humor.


The salary range for this position begins at $200,000 plus a robust benefits package, which includes the following:

  • Medical/dental/life/vision insurance plans (largely employer funded);

  • Section 125 Flexible Spending Plan;

  • Paid vacation, holidays, sick leave, and personal days;

  • A 401(k) retirement plan;

  • Parking.

The Search Committee of eight members hopes to make its final decision by late spring/early summer, with the new Artistic Director onsite as soon thereafter as possible.



David Mallette and Thomas Pearson make up the team from Management Consultants for the Arts leading this important search. To be considered for this position, you must submit pertinent information including name, contact information, and salary requirement and attach a current résumé, a cover letter (no more than 1½ pages describing why this post and organization is attractive to you and what about you and your work makes you a potentially strong contributor as a leader of Geffen Playhouse), and four professional references (name, work relationship, email, phone) using the online application system. Once all materials have been submitted online, the applicant will receive a confirmation of their submission via the email address provided in the application. For clarification on any of this information, please contact Christy Wall at .

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