Director of Communications

Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University

Position 574510

The Opportunity:

Scheduled to open in 2016, the new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), designed by the renowned Steven Holl Architects, is seeking a dynamic, energetic, entrepreneurial, and creative Director of Communications to lead, develop, and execute an effective strategic marketing and communications plan for the ICA.

As part of the ICA’s inaugural staff, the Director of Communications will use brand development, advertising, and public relations to establish and keep the ICA globally oriented and locally relevant, generating enthusiasm and support for the ICA as a highly valued community asset: a magnet for cultural tourism, a venue for exciting exhibitions, and a focal point for significant events and programs. This is an extraordinary opportunity to be a key player in the creation of a new Institution, and the Director of Communications will be instrumental in creating a communications and branding strategy in support of all ICA activities and departments to help them achieve success and develop and deliver mission-appropriate programming both at the ICA, as well throughout the VCU campus and Richmond community.

The Director of Communications reports to the Director of the ICA and the Director of Administration, and is part of ICA’s senior leadership team.

About the ICA (

The ICA will be an iconic gateway for the city of Richmond. As a non-collecting museum, the ICA will showcase a fresh slate of changing innovative exhibitions, performances, films and special programs that engage the university, students, faculty, the broader Richmond community, and beyond.

The 40,000-square-foot ICA will be an incubator for interdisciplinary experimentation for the entire university while simultaneously providing opportunities for collaboration both locally and internationally. It will be in direct dialogue with VCUarts (, the #1 public art school in the country; set within a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research; and centrally located on the East Coast in a city with a top-10 museum and a region with few venues for the latest contemporary art. The ICA will become a conduit for global collaboration, bridging the distance to artists working in other regions internationally.

About Richmond, Virginia:

Richmond ( is an art-centric town, but there’s much more all around us. Hiking, biking, kayaking and rafting opportunities abound. Brown’s Island and Maymont Park are just a few of the natural treasures VCU faculty, staff, and students name as their favorite Richmond spots. Richmond is a thriving capital city full of cultural diversity, great food, festivals and entertainment. We are the heart of the arts in a state with a bustling gallery and performance scene featuring local and international talent. Many state museums are located here, such as The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, more commonly known as RVA, is a haven for alternative and creative endeavors. The Today Show named Richmond the #3 Most Tattooed City in the US. In September 2012, Outside Magazine named Richmond the “Best River Town in America.” We are home to the James River Park System, one of the largest inner city park systems in the country. Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, and the Blue Ridge mountains are only 2 hours away. Richmond International Airport has daily non-stop flights to NYC, so you can be there in an hour, if you can find the time to go.

Population: 200,000+ live in the city; 1.2 million live in the greater Richmond area.

Major Responsibilities:

  • Plan, develop, implement, and maintain a strategic communications and public relations program, encompassing advertising and brand stewardship, graphic presentation, print and media outlets, promotional programs and events, public relations initiatives for both in-person and on-line audience building, and revenue generation, as well as digital platforms including the ICA website and other online resources created for ICA programs and activities, including social media.
  • Apply research and analytical techniques in the collection, summarization, and analysis of information for media distribution and presentations, audience experience analysis and enhancement, and program success based on defined outcomes; evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of internal and external information; obtain feedback from the public and internal personnel through surveys, public opinion studies, and/or focus group meetings.
  • Identify the characteristics of diverse target audiences and constituencies and determine the most effective communications techniques for reaching and motivating these groups for maximum support of ICA exhibitions, programs, services, and activities, and to ensure that ICA departments achieve success and develop and deliver mission-appropriate programming.
  • Establish and maintain effective and cooperative working relationships with VCU communications teams, and other VCU faculty and staff, community leaders, donors, and representatives of communications media and governmental organizations.
  • Analyze situations accurately, adopt an effective course of action, and maintain composure in all situations, including planning ahead to anticipate conditions, establish priorities, and meet schedules.
    Exercise authority of the position with diplomacy, honesty, integrity, humor, and tact.
  • Motivate, direct, train, and develop other staff members whose roles will support communications efforts of the ICA.

Typical Duties:

  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of a year-round communications program.
  • Serve as the ICA’s media spokesperson along with the ICA Director; establish and maintain relationships with news media representatives; work in dialogue with media strategists regarding local and national press initiatives; facilitate media interviews with key ICA personalities.
  • Build and foster collaborative relationships with ICA staff members, stay informed of new initiatives, and develop communications materials and programs to promote and publicize these initiatives, while simultaneously ensuring cohesion of publicity efforts across all ICA departments.
  • Oversee the development and maintenance of the ICA’s web site and electronic marketing to ensure the design and content achieves the appropriate public relations results.
  • Develop newsletters, bulletins, website postings, and related materials regarding exhibitions, special programs, staff achievements, awards and news of general interest to the public.
  • Advise the ICA Director and Advisory Board members of the attitudes, perceptions, criticism, and reactions of community, student, employee, business, political, interest, and government groups of the policies and actions of the ICA; provides guidance on how to effectively respond to issues, and implement an effective course of action to address them.
  • Work with ICA Senior Staff to oversee all presentations to the media, as well as donor and volunteer groups, including producing talking points for speakers; composing informative materials, scripts, speeches and other communications for the ICA Director and Advisory Council as needed.
  • Develop and oversees the maintenance of the Communications program budget.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Significant years of paid professional-level full time management experience in marketing, communications, external relations, or related area.
  • Terminal degree in marketing, communications or a related field is strongly preferred, and/or an equivalent combination of training and professional experience.
  • Must have experience with various communications channels such as web-based, broadcast, print media, and social media.
  • Knowledge of and/or willingness to learn and embrace contemporary art and culture.
  • Must possess a strong business acumen and excellent leadership skills; exhibit keen proficiency in communications strategies, and be able to demonstrate strategic thinking and planning over multi-year periods working on a variety of projects across multiple platforms simultaneously.
  • Ability to work in a diverse environment is required as well as demonstrated experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff, and student environment or commitment to do so as a faculty member at VCU.
  • Must possess exceptional interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills; including writing, editing, and proofreading.
  • Must be self-motivated, strategic, creative, entrepreneurial, energetic and intelligent.
  • Proven flexibility and willingness to perform a wide range of tasks as necessary.
  • Ability to problem-solve using sound judgment and professional discretion.
  • Demonstrated strong work ethic and time management skills.
  • Experience with a cultural or arts organization in a major market is preferred.
  • Experience in an institution of higher education is desirable.

Hiring Range: $75,000-$90,000

Application Instructions:

Applications must be submitted via VCU eJobs:

Please do not email applications. Only applications submitted via eJobs will be reviewed. Applications will continue to be reviewed until the position is filled.

Include a letter to the attention of Ryan Ellington, Director of HR, VCUarts, that outlines your interest in the position (attach in the “Cover Letter/Letter of Application” field). In addition, submit a resume that includes a list of five current references (references will not be contacted prior to candidates’ approval), including names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses (attach in the “Resume” field).

For questions about the application process or VCU eJobs, contact Ryan Ellington at or via phone: 804.828.2787.

To read more about the ICA:

Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability.

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