Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) makes real the power of the arts to transform lives and strengthen communities by generating a creative exchange between an international community of artists and a diverse public. The Arts Center serves as laboratory for the creation of new works; nurturer of interdisciplinary initiatives; originator of exhibitions and critical writings; steward of groundbreaking collections; presenter/producer of performing arts; educator; and community builder. In essence, the Arts Center is an explorer and catalyst that impacts artists and the public, envisioning a world in which communities collaborate and explore the arts to nourish and enrich the lives of all.

The Exhibitions/Collections Department annually curates 12–22 original exhibitions that are part of 2–3 broad themes exploring relevant issues in contemporary art. A current theme, Wisconsin Wild and Tame include Of Heart and Home: Mary Nohl’s Art Environment; David R. Harper: My Own Persona; Ghost; and Photography and the Scientific Spirit. Former exhibitions include Ebony G. Patterson: Dead Treez, which traveled to the Museum of Art and Design in New York City.  The museum has also sent works by Von Brunchenheim to the Venice Biennale.  Exhibitions explore original installation works, new genres, other contemporary forms, and the work of self-taught and folk artists. The Arts Center is acclaimed for its 45-year partnership to preserve vernacular art environments and has developed an unprecedented collection of 11,000 individual works- components of more than 30 artist-built environments that were once in jeopardy. Publications are developed to document series or individual exhibitions whenever possible and are exemplary in capturing the spirit of the work.

Together with local partners, JMKAC’s Connecting Communities program gives artists the opportunity to collaborate with underserved constituencies on the creation of large-scale compelling works. In 2014 the Culinary Art Car was created with artists Mac Maker and Robert Karimi and members of the community.

For over forty years, the groundbreaking Arts/Industry program has provided 2–6-month residencies for 16 artists annually, giving them 24/7 access to Kohler Company’s Pottery, Iron and Brass Foundry, and Enamel Shop to create whole bodies of new work. Over 400 artists have participated in the program to date, among them Chris Antemann (OR), Susan Beiner (AZ), Jack Earl (OH), Molly Hatch (MA), Stuart Keeler (Canada), Sergei Isupov (MA), Beth Lipman (WI), Michael Sherrill (NC), and Tom Spleth (NC).

Performing/Media Arts programming includes 3–4 day Footlights residencies annually by up to 5 national/international companies, for example, Stephen Petronio Dance (NY),Esperanza Spaulding Trio (MA), Minh Tran & Company (OR), and Les Yeux Noirs (Paris). Other series

focus on cultural heritage, contemporary music, theater, and documentary film.

Education efforts deepen the impact of other programs through an acclaimed arts-based preschool; introductory videos for exhibitions; lectures; tours; festivals; and programs for schools, universities, daycare centers, shelters, persons with disabilities, the elderly and families.

The Arts Center is a focal point for a major downtown revitalization and provides a wonderful setting for visitors of all ages. A new project that is in the planning stage is the Art Preserve that will make the Arts Center’s vernacular art environment collection available to scholars, artists, and the public year round in a park setting.

The Arts Center has a 22-member Board of Directors, a full-time staff of 70 and a budget of $4 million. The Arts Center is supported by corporations, foundations, government grants and individual donors. It serves upwards of 220,000 visitors annually.  The Arts Center will observe its 50th anniversary in 2017 with a spectacular yearlong celebration.


The Director of the JMKAC reports to the President of the Board of Directors, and works closely with board members and the staff to enhance and implement the Art Center’s artistic, performing and educational mission, to insure its financial resources and to develop and implement short and long term strategic and business plans.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provide outstanding leadership in the advancement of the Art Center’s programs, exhibitions and educational activities.
  • Identify, cultivate and generate significant financial support, working with the Board of Directors, the support councils and staff to implement the Center’s short and long-term development plans.
  • Expand ties to the philanthropic, governmental and civic communities.
  • Work with the Founding Director Emeritus to establish and program the Art Preserve.
  • Provide dynamic community leadership to enhance the visibility of the Arts Center and its reputation as an exceptional cultural, economic and community resource.
  • Empower staff and ensure that there is a cohesive team, all working in the same direction, willing and able to share new ideas and try new ways to solve future problems.
  • Maintain an organizational culture that is collegial in nature; attracting, retaining and motivating a diverse highly qualified staff and corps of volunteers and one that does not value one form of art more highly than another.
  • Promote an environment, which cultivates and supports excellent results throughout the institution.
  • Establish collaboration with other non-profit arts organizations in the community.
  • Establish relationships with colleagues on a national platform.

The Board of Directors is seeking an energetic and creative leader with a passion for the visual and performing arts as well as strong managerial skills.
The director must have 10 years of senior level experience in museums or other cultural institutions with an advanced degree in art history, museum studies, arts administration or a related field. S/he must be creative in his/her approach to managing an institution of the complexity of the Arts Center. S/he must be able to articulate the strategic vision for the Arts Center and must possess superb skills in fundraising, financial management, audience development and decision-making. The Arts Center director must be willing and able to serve as the organization’s spokesperson to all constituencies, both external and internal, increasing awareness of the Arts Center by clearly articulating the Center’s ambitious goals and programs.
Specific qualifications include:

  • The ability to envision the future, think strategically, prioritize issues, manage, market and grow the organization;
  • Strategic and operational financial analysis skills;
  • Appreciation for the unique artistic focus and quality of the Art Center’s collection and the desire to build a national and international audience for the Arts Center while continuing to build the local and regional audience;
  • Recognition of and ability to preserve and nourish the artistic vision and spirit of the Arts Center;
  • Demonstrated success in the development and implementation of a fundraising program;
  • The ability to communicate in a clear and persuasive manner orally and in writing and to present and represent the Arts Center to all constituencies;
  • Demonstrated success at relationship building and commitment to collaboration;
  • Experience working with other community-wide cultural and educational institutions;
  • A reputation as an energetic, accessible “can-do” person;
  • A reputation for the highest level of integrity and credibility;
  • An interest in and experience with new technologies;

Finally, the new director will be a bold thinker and passionate advocate for the Center with a sense of humor, willing and able to bring vision, excitement and ideas to the Arts Center while remaining cognizant of its history and role in the community built up over the past fifty years.

The position will offer a competitive salary and benefit package.
START DATE: Summer 2016
Send resume and cover letter indicating interest, qualifications and list of 3-4 references to:
Diane Frankel/ Linda Sweet
Management Consultants for the Arts

Email only care of Christy Wall at

Job Information
  • Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 53081, United States
  • 28237197
  • April 27, 2016
  • Director
  • John Michael Kohler Arts Center
  • Directors/Administrators
  • No
  • Full-Time
  • Indefinite
  • Master’s Degree
  • Over 10 Years