JOB DESCRIPTION: General Manager

Who is American Blues Theater?

Winner of American Theatre Wing’s prestigious National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater (BLUES) is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home.  BLUES explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.

We believe in cooperative collaborations both on and off-stage. We provide community service for many not-for-profits, such as the Lynn Sage Foundation, Chicago Public Schools, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Illinois Farm Bureau, Misericordia, PAWS Chicago, and the USO. We believe our theater can uplift, educate, entertain, and provide social change. BLUES aspires to foster Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access (IDEA) both on and off stage while utilizing a dedicated, actively antiracist practice.

We are Chicago’s second-oldest AEA Ensemble theater, with our administrative offices located in the Ravenswood neighborhood. As of 2022, our theater and artists have 221 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and 40 Black Theater Alliance Awards. Our artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Tony Award nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards, and numerous other accolades.

BLUES is committed to developing the classic plays and musicals of tomorrow, producing, on average, 3-4 live theater productions on an annual basis at various theater venues in the Chicagoland area. More than half of our mainstage productions are world and Chicago premieres. Our new play development consists of a variety of programs – the nationally-recognized American Blues Theater Playwriting Award (formerly Blue Ink Playwriting Award)Blueprint play development, and annual Ripped Festival of new short plays. We seek to work with individuals who share our passion for the arts, as well as racial, gender, and social equity.

Who is in leadership?

GWENDOLYN WHITESIDE (she/her) is a proud Ensemble member of American Blues Theater and has served as Artistic Director since 2010.  In her tenure, she created the nationally-recognized American Blues Theater Playwriting Award (formerly Blue Ink Playwriting Award) and new work development program, implemented community service into the company’s mission, and adapted the arts education program for Chicago Public Schools serving nearly 4,000 students. She led American Blues through its reorganization in 2009, building the operational budget from zero to $1 million. She secured the company’s first-ever operating reserve and endowment. Whiteside served on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theaters and League of Chicago Theatres. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University (BS), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University). As a producer, she’s received 14 Joseph Jefferson nominations or awards. As an actress, she’s received 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards, Citations, and nominations; 2 After Dark Awards; and 1 Broadway World Chicago Award.

What will you do?

BLUES is seeking a General Manager with demonstrated budgeting and collective bargaining experience, a proven team player with great problem-solving abilities, and a strong passion for the arts and artists.

The General Manager is responsible for managing BLUES business and administrative functions, including cash-flow management, annual external financial audit process, and artistic contract negotiations. The General Manager works with the Artistic Director and Production Manager in creating and maintaining departmental budgets for the company. This position also works alongside the Office & HR Manager in updating and implementing the company’s policies and procedures.

With the guidance of the Artistic Director, the General Manager may supervise any potential future ventures involving the procurement of a permanent performance home for BLUES, as well as oversee the inception, planning, and execution of the facilities and IT departments for said project.

Areas of Accountability:

  • Finance Management
    • Along with senior management, create and maintain current and long-term budgets, including grant and Board reporting.
    • Maintains all nonprofit accounting standards and oversees the annual audit process.
    • Responsible for all accounts payable & receivable.
    • Manages the organization’s cash flow.
    • Responsible for daily financial and administrative management.
  • Contracting
    • Responsible for all production contracts, including artists, licensing, and production-related vendors.
    • Liaison for union negotiations, including AEA, USA, SDC, and other artistic unions.
    • Oversees contracts with personnel and external vendors, including facilities and IT.
  • Administrative
    • Managing special projects on an as-needed basis as directed by the Artistic Director.
    • Oversees fiscal management of box office and merchandise sales.
    • Works with senior management to maintain company policies and procedures.
    • Attends meetings as required.
    • Other duties as assigned.
  • Facilities
    • Oversees and manages all insurance and facilities compliance.
    • Event coordination (as needed) and fiscal reporting for events and fundraisers.
    • Oversees space rentals.
    • Oversees fiscal management and repair/replacement of equipment in collaboration with Production Manager.
    • Manages real estate development projects, as directed by the Artistic Director and Board.

Who are we looking for?

The ideal candidate for the General Manager position will have the following experience and qualifications:

  • Strong ability to accurately manage complex budgets.
  • Excellent organizational and recordkeeping abilities and attention to detail.
  • Substantial skill and proficiency in QuickBooks online, or related financial software, and knowledge of an external financial audit process.
  • Considerable experience managing and negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and working knowledge of AEA, USA, SDC, and other artistic unions.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, as well as great interpersonal skills.
  • Proven ability to take initiative and proactively manage multiple priorities with strict deadlines.
  • Demonstrated professionalism and discretion when dealing with confidential and sensitive information.
  • A commitment to racial and social equity.
  • Five years of experience in theatre, or a related industry.

Education: All education levels, whether formal degrees or not, will be taken into consideration.

Who do you report to?

The General Manager reports to the Artistic Director. Potential reports include Office & HR Manager, independent contractors, and external vendors.

How much are we paying and what are the perks?

Compensation is commensurate with experience and highly competitive.

Job Type: Full-time, exempt

Salary: $55,000 – $70,000 / year

Benefits offered:

  • Paid time off
  • Parental leave
  • Healthcare reimbursement
  • Commuting/travel assistance/parking
  • Technology stipend
  • Flexible schedules
  • Workplace perks, such as food/snacks and coffee
  • Education assistance or tuition reimbursement
  • Others

How do I apply?

Please email cover letter, resume/CV, and professional references (in PDF format) to  by February 7, 2022.

BLUES is committed to creating an equitable, inclusive and accessible environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Women, non-gender-binary/trans individuals, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and people with disabilities are STRONGLY encouraged to apply! Please join us as we shift the narrative and grow our organization into a true representation of Inclusion.,

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