News & Stories

Creative Capital Launches Search for Next President

September 11, 2015


After seventeen years of growth and innovation in the service of artists across the country, Creative Capital embarks now on the search for its second transformational leader to follow its dynamic founder. The search is being conducted by Phillips Oppenheim and the Creative Capital Board of Directors.


In 1999, in response to the National Endowment for the Arts' termination of grant programs for individual artists, Creative Capital was launched under the dynamic leadership of Founding President Ruby Lerner at the invitation of the Andy Warhol Foundation and embodying a fierce commitment to freedom of expression. Creative Capital embarked on a mission to reinvent cultural philanthropy and to support innovative artists pursuing adventurous projects in all disciplines. Its pioneering system of supporting artists is inspired by venture capital principles and includes building a long-term relationship with an artist and project, providing funding at strategic moments, and surrounding the artist and project with critical resources, counsel and advisory services.

Creative Capital’s open application process helps artists working in a variety of creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices, providing each project with up to $50,000 in direct funding and career development services valued at $45,000, for a total commitment of up to $95,000 per project. Since 1999, it has committed $35 million in financial and advisory support to 465 projects representing 579 artists. Projects funded by Creative Capital appear regularly at the world’s most influential film festivals, contemporary art museums, performance venues and in prize-winning publications.

In 2003, Creative Capital launched its Professional Development Program to share with a wider community of artists some of the tools and strategies for increased self-sufficiency that it initially developed for its artists. Creative Capital leads the field as the only national organization that has made a long-term commitment to artists’ professional development, and its Professional Development Program has reached nearly 10,000 artists in over 550 communities.

Recognized for its ability to add unique value to grantmaking in the arts, Creative Capital administers grant-making programs funded by a number of major foundations including The MAP Fund (for experimentation in performing arts and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), the Doris Duke Performing Artists Awards Program, and the Creative Capital – Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program. These programs have made grants of nearly $32 million since inception.

To serve these artists, Creative Capital has 28 FT staff (35 including all programs) from an original team of four, an operating budget of $4M, significant cash reserves, an endowment, flourishing relationships with institutional funders, and substantial support from private donors. Creative Capital also has become a model for similar programs, helping to change the world one artist at a time.



Building upon a stable foundation, the President would:

  • Become familiar with the organization -- its history, priorities, values, issues, and funding strategies; establish strong working relationships with the Board, staff, artists, alumni, funders and the public;
  • Sustain and promote an artist-centric vision; ensure that the organization’s integrity and service to the artists is of the highest quality;
  • Evaluate fundraising efforts to date; develop and lead a fundraising strategy appropriate to Creative Capital’s artists, patrons and potential supporters; steward existing funding sources and cultivate new ones; identify, propose and implement appropriate earned income opportunities;
  • Nurture relationships with the existing Board of Directors to maximize their interest and involvement in the growth and development of Creative Capital; activate board committees; establish opportunities for sustained meaningful engagement in the Western U.S.;
  • Bring a leading-edge vision and leadership to the organization’s direction, growth and development, including an assessment of its current grantmaking programs and goals; encourage and support innovation and strategic risk-taking within a rigorous and responsible programmatic framework;
  • Ensure that Creative Capital is a truly national program, working across race, class, gender and ethnic boundaries and reaching deep into grass-roots organizations to increase opportunities for active engagement for artists regardless of location;
  • Assess an organization that has grown around a charismatic founder; transition from an organically developed operation into one that introduces, as appropriate, structure, staffing and systems responsive to current work, audience and future objectives; integrate technological advances that improve operations internally and artists and community engagement externally;
  • Take a leadership role in the national artistic community to further the goal of supporting artists; partner with other organizations when appropriate to expand interest in, visibility of and support for Creative Capital’s mission and its artists;
  • Supervise a highly motivated professional staff; delegating specific responsibilities and appropriate authority, holding individuals accountable for specific and collective performance, maintaining morale and providing direction;
  • Oversee the organization’s financial operations; develop its budget; ensure that staff and programming keep within the allocated financial resources; provide the Board and funders with timely financial data for budgeting decisions and fundraising plans.


The President will be/have:

  • A generosity of spirit coupled with a fierce and passionate commitment to artists and to the mission of Creative Capital, along with an interest in the underlying values which affect the current status of our arts and culture;
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills, including the ability to inspire, collaborate, tactfully negotiate, compromise and take initiative; a self-starter undaunted by a fast moving and lean institution; entrepreneurial in spirit; a track record of coalescing others around objectives and the successful implementation of them;
  • Prior experience in an arts form and organization known for its innovation and creativity or strong avocational involvement with the field; respected by the contemporary artist community and a developed network;
  • Solid administrative skills; an ability to focus, plan, prioritize and follow through with budgets, staff and a variety of constituencies; an ability to think strategically, conceptualize and analyze projects critically; a familiarity with policy issues and development;
  • An enthusiastic and energetic fundraiser, with excellent speaking, writing and communication skills; willing and able to sustain a demanding travel schedule;
  • Excellent judgment with the decisiveness and resourcefulness to anticipate and respond to opportunities; effective under pressure and able to handle constant multi-tasking;
  • Experience working in an organization where mutual respect, informality, collegiality, inclusion and diversity are primary; a team player who is fair and credible and can quickly gain the respect and confidence of stakeholders; a commitment strengthening ties among diverse communities through art;
  • High integrity; an enthusiasm and tenacity to make things happen; a personal (not just administrative) connection to artists; and a sense of humor to render it enjoyable.


Creative Capital is committed to inclusion and diversity and invites applications without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation. Please send them to Sarah James or Becky Klein at Phillips Oppenheim: [email protected].

Download PDF


Back to Listing