The Current Situation and Opportunity
Having accomplished a major architectural makeover in 2019, The Norton successfully embarked on a path to become the region’s foremost art and culture institution serving Florida’s fast-growing market.
The year 2020 has presented significant challenges for the world, every cultural institution, and for the Norton. The museum has been closed since March due to COVID and the Director/CEO hired in 2019 departed. In spite of these dramatic changes, The Norton has pivoted and adapted in the following ways:
- The Board of Trustees raised $2.8 million for an emergency COVID relief fund to supplement any future deficits (as projected for the next two years). The fiscal year 2020 will end with a very small deficit.
- Significantly reduced outstanding debt while producing strong endowment performance.
- The Executive Leadership Team – comprising the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Development Officer, and the Chief Curator – has been successfully guiding the interim management of the museum.
- Staff has been streamlined in size and payroll expenses have been reduced.
- Engaged Foster + Partners to conceptualize an exciting expanded campus and surrounding district for the next 80 years.
- Launched a major sophisticated effort to provide a massive Norton online presence on multiple platforms to educate, inform, and enlighten specific and mass audiences.
- The Palm Beach area has seen a dramatic migration of affluent and culturally sophisticated families fleeing the Northeast.
- Firmly addressing diversity issues by forming a Board-level working group that has set a goal of achieving 25% of Trustees as people of color by the end of 2022; and has established a high-level staff diversity committee to address and solve any and all workplace diversity issues.
To achieve the museum’s long-term aspirations of becoming an arts and culture powerhouse for the Southern United States and beyond, The Norton seeks a CEO with superior team leadership skills and abiding enthusiasm for the museum’s mission. The Norton’s Board has committed to forge and pursue a strong vision of artistic leadership, financial stability, and enhanced community impact for The Norton.
Norton’s CEO must:
- Have a proven track record in the effective and uplifting management of a talented, focused team.
- Be exceptionally adept at fundraising and mobilizing a development team to generate significant gifts needed to support the Norton’s operations, programs, and development.
- Have a warm personality; be an inclusive and inspirational team leader.
- Possess a personal style that encourages an honest exchange of ideas; listens carefully to all viewpoints.
- Be a natural networker committed to maintaining connections with colleagues at peer institutions, as well as leaders of regional cultural and civic organizations.
- Be an enthusiastic and effective developer of collaborative projects and ventures.
- Have sophisticated fiscal acumen, with a firm understanding of nonprofit finances and operations.
- Be innovative and open-minded about broadening community involvement in Norton programming.
- Be committed to researching the needs and desires of The Norton’s current and potential audiences, and successfully developing programs and policies to engage and greatly expand attendance.
Palm Beach County is seeing rapid population growth and becoming increasingly diverse. Palm Beach Island, on the eastern border of the county, has the highest per capita wealth in the country. This socio-economic diversity frames opportunities for The Norton to become the premier art museum in Florida. Innovative and engaging partnerships with the local communities and the affluent cultured residents nearby offer a bright potential future for the museum.
In the coming years, top priorities for the new Director/CEO are:
- Ensuring long-term financial stability and operational sustainability, which mandates a greatly expanded endowment.
- Creatively expanding the development of the digital platform.
- Expanding the art collection with a particular emphasis on the “art of our times.”
- Working with and inspiring the curatorial staff to create exciting and intellectually stimulating exhibitions and programming.
- Being able to successfully become a civic leader in the area with the very diverse communities and constituencies.
About the Norton Museum of Art
The Norton Museum of Art (the “Norton”) was founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875-1953) and his wife Elizabeth Calhoun Norton (1881-1947). Norton was an industrialist who headed the Acme Steel Company in Chicago. He and his wife began collecting to decorate their home, but then he became interested in art for its own sake and formed a sizable collection of paintings and sculpture. In 1935, Mr. Norton semi-retired, and the couple began to spend more time in the Palm Beaches. They contemplated what to do with their art collection and eventually decided to found their own museum in West Palm Beach, to give South Florida its first such institution. In 1940, construction began on the Norton Gallery and School of Art located between South Olive Avenue and South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Mr. Norton commissioned Marion Sims Wyeth of the distinguished firm of Wyeth, King & Johnson to design the Museum. The Art Deco building opened to the public on February 8, 1941. Norton continued to add to his collection until his death in 1953, and the works that he and his wife gave the Museum form the core of the institution’s collection today.
The Museum’s permanent collection now consists of more than 9,400 works in five curatorial departments: European, American, Chinese, Contemporary and Photography. Since 1954, many distinguished additions have been made thanks to the endowment Mr. Norton created for the purchase of works of art. They include masterpieces such as Stuart Davis’s New York Mural (acquired in 1964), and Jackson Pollock’s Night Mist (acquired in 1971).
In 2011, the Norton launched Recognition of Art by Women (RAW), an annual exhibition series that celebrates the contributions of living female painters and sculptors with solo exhibitions. Funded through the Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund/MLDauray Arts Initiative, the Norton has organized solo exhibitions for British painter Jenny Saville (2011), American painter Sylvia Plimack Mangold (2012), British sculptor Phyllida Barlow (2013), Swedish sculptor Krista Kristalova (2014), African-born, L.A.-based painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby (2016), and Austrian painter Svenja Deininger (2017). RAW 2019 featured the work of Chicago-born, New York-based artist Nina Chanel Abney.
Looking ahead, from January 2 to May 9, 2021, The Norton Museum of Art will present María Berrío’s (born Columbia, 1982) stunning collages in which she reflects on human vulnerability through the lens of the experience of contemporary immigration and the inescapable effect of the current pandemic. María Berrío: Esperando mientras la noche florece (Waiting for the Night to Bloom), is the eighth RAW exhibition and comprises a selection of Berrío’s mature work dating from 2013 through the present, including pieces completed for the exhibition and previously not exhibited. It is organized by Cheryl Brutvan, Director of Curatorial Affairs and the Glenn W. and Cornelia T. Bailey Curator of Contemporary Art who has been the curator of this series since its inception in 2011.
In 2012, the Norton instituted the Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers, a biennial international award those on the leading edge of the field who have not yet received a solo museum exhibition. Winners have included: Argentine-born, Los Angeles-based artist Analia Sabin (2012); Israeli artist Rami Maymon (2014), and New York-based artist Elizabeth Bick (2016). Prominent art collector and longtime Norton supporter Beth Rudin DeWoody created the Prize to honor her father, the late New York City real estate developer Lewis Rudin.
In 2013, with Florida’s population dramatically increasing and with Norton Trustees seeing the need for more exhibition and education space, the Board decided to embark on a bold, visionary Museum expansion, enlisting the renowned London-based architectural firm of Foster + Partners to design a new building. The transformed Museum opened on February 9, 2019, featuring the Kenneth C. Griffin Building, which includes 12,000 square feet of new gallery space; expanded classroom space; a larger student exhibition space; a state-of-the art, 210-seat auditorium; a new store and restaurant; and a Great Hall serving as the Museum’s “living room.” The expansion includes a sculpture garden and lawn for outdoor programming or relaxing. The project also included the renovation of six Museum-owned, 1920s-era cottages to house an artist-in-residence program, and the Museum Director’s home. The expansion allows The Norton to better serve the art and the community.
For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, The Norton has an annual operating expense of $13.9 million and (while closed due to COVID) a team of approximately 40 full-time staff. Prior to the closing The Museum served approximately 220,000 visitors annually. The endowment currently stands at $70 million.
For more information about the Norton, including overviews of its educational and community programs for a wide range of audiences, including students and teachers, teens and families, as well as adult programs which include talks, presentations, performances, and films, please visit the museum’s website.
West Palm Beach, FL: About the Region
As one of the three largest cities making up the South Florida region, and the central city of Palm Beach County with an estimated population of 111,398 (2018), West Palm Beach is a vibrant, growing, waterfront city that offers the business advantages available in the region, combined with a more refined and relaxed environment for living and working.
The city is home to sunny palm-lined streets, breathtaking waterfront views, quaint shopping districts, historic and scenic neighborhoods, and exciting year-round outdoor festivals. West Palm Beach has several world-class shopping and entertainment districts including CityPlace, Clematis Street, Antique Row, Northwood Village, and more. The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is the premier location to spend an evening. For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, the city’s teeming waterfront offers walkways and fantastic views. On the city’s western edge, you can hike, bike, and get a view of the Florida Everglades up close at Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve.
Main Focus, Priorities, and Key Responsibilities
The CEO is appointed by the Board of Trustees and serves at its pleasure. The Board prepares an annual performance plan with the CEO and assesses performance against that plan. The CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
As Chief Executive Officer, the selected candidate has the following duties and responsibilities:
Operations: The Norton’s CEO is responsible for the every-day management of the museum. This includes direct involvement in or oversight of a broad array of functions. Selecting, leading, organizing, managing, and evaluating senior staff are primary responsibilities. Senior staff who will report to the CEO include:
- Chief Financial Officer
- Chief Development Officer
- Director of Human Resources
- Director of Curatorial Affairs and
- Head of Education
Financial Management: The CEO oversees all levels of The Norton’s financial operations. These include developing and executing the overall museum-level budget, as well as the evaluation and oversight of the budgets for exhibitions, public programs, marketing, and fundraising. Prudent financial management committed to active involvement with the Board in financial planning followed by maintaining transparent fiscal reporting to the Board are key tasks for the CEO.
Donor cultivation, solicitation, and relations: Fundraising is a primary responsibility of the Norton’s CEO. Working closely with the museum advancement and marketing teams and the Board of Directors, the CEO will be actively involved in all aspects of fundraising, including but not limited to donor qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and donor relations. The CEO is expected to take the lead in identifying and developing new donor relationships and soliciting and closing substantial donations to support The Norton’s operations and increase the endowment.
Education, Marketing, and Public Relations: Developing and sustaining effective educational relationships and partnerships with The Norton’s communities— in Palm Beach County, in Southern Florida, and beyond are important responsibilities for the CEO. In close cooperation with curators, educators, and development personnel, the CEO will develop and implement a world-class educational program that balances public appeal with scholarly rigor and innovation. The Norton’s accomplishments as a leader in interpretive programming will be showcased through nation-wide marketing and media coverage. Media engagements and public relations fall squarely within the purview of the CEO. Marketing currently reports through the operations division.
The Norton seeks top candidates with demonstrated leadership, management, fundraising, financial oversight, communications, and marketing skills within or connected to the art world. A broad knowledge of the visual art world is desirable. An advanced degree in a related field or equivalent executive experience in visual, performing arts, other cultural organizations, the humanities, and management (profit or non-profit) is desired. Other qualifications and equivalent accumulated relevant experience will be considered.
The CEO will frequently work away from the office, outside the facilities ― cultivating donor relations, developing strategic partnerships with national and international institutions, and reaching out to different local stakeholders. A large portion of the CEO’s time will thus be spent away from the desk promoting The Norton within and outside its community.
Like most top-management positions, the workload of the Norton CEO is substantial. The CEO’s schedule will be dedicated to fundraising, staff management, regular Board interactions, operational and financial oversight, program development, community relations, and marketing. Evening and weekend events, dinners, media engagement, and private meetings will also fill the time of the CEO who must maintain a high community profile for The Norton’s sake. Passion for the job is of the essence and the upside potential for job satisfaction is unlimited.
Leading successfully high-performing staff teams and partnering with a growing and active Board of Directors is critical to the success of CEO and the museum. Skills and experience in leadership and management, as well as a high level of emotional intelligence (“EQ”), are thus essential.
The Norton provides on-campus housing (“The Karp House”) for the CEO and their family.
Other critical skills and key competencies include:
Passion for the work
Being enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the role museums can play in society and caring about the responsibility toward and impact on The Norton’s diverse community is essential. Aligning the Board’s commitment to and passion for the mission of The Norton with the aspirations for the institution that the next CEO will bring is critical.
The CEO should have demonstrated leadership, managerial, financial, and business competencies. Prior experience with running or working effectively at a high level within a complex organizational structure is desirable.
Fundraising is expected to be a significant aspect of The Norton CEO’s job. Thus, cultivating new donors to support The Norton’s operations, programs, and endowment is critical. The CEO needs to be comfortable approaching, developing, and soliciting donors, articulating clearly the case for philanthropic support and the benefits of being a part of The Norton’s donor community. A track record of success in fundraising will be a selection factor.
The Norton has a highly dedicated core staff who should be managed well and who deserve to be listened to, kept informed, and inspired. The Norton’s CEO must be a skilled communicator and mediator in order to partner effectively with the museum’s Board, its staff, donors and the public. The successful candidate’s public speaking style needs to be persuasive and his/her internal communication skills well-honed and effective. In short, a clear ability to project “soft power” will pay substantial dividends for the museum.
Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Naree W.S. Viner and Stephen Milbauer are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or email [email protected]. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
The Norton Museum of Art is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented applicants.
About Koya Leadership Partners
Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com