Background and Status
The Toe River Arts Council (TRAC), founded in 1976 is a membership organization which serves primarily Mitchell and Yancey Counties, N.C., with some services to Avery County. Membership includes artists, community organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, and the general public.

Mission Statement: The Toe River Arts Council connects artists, the arts, and communities to enhance participation in and appreciation of the arts that will improve the quality of life for all the Toe River Valley.

We are a flagship rural arts council in North Carolina. Our programming consists of arts education in the schools (i.e. residencies, performances, NC Arts Council supported Traditional Arts Program for Students (TAPS), student scholarships, a community orchestra that performs throughout the year, occasionally a community chorus, an annual folk festival, bi-annual studio tours involving 80-100 participants each, and regular activities in our two facilities/galleries featuring rotating year-round exhibitions, art classes, various performances, and community sponsored events. We coordinate with Avery, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties on the Regional Artist Project Grant and serve as the fiscal agent for the Blue Ridge Fine Arts Guild and the Spruce Pine Potters Market. We have spearheaded a branding and wayfinding project that provides unified marketing efforts and signage to increase access to artist studios and other cultural venues. We have led Burnsville’s smART Initiative which includes public art features for the gateways into Burnsville. We collaborate with a wide range of community groups such as Mayland Community College, the school systems, historical societies, Penland School of Crafts, and other organizations to support many of our programs: (i.e.: school programs, blacksmith exhibit, business classes for artists, and other opportunities).

We have three full-time and six part-time staff, over 450 current arts council members, a number of contracted artists, and a host of regular volunteers. Our operating budget is approximately $450,000 which often has included additional fluctuating grants providing over a half million or more.

Key Opportunities for Toe River Arts 2018 and Beyond
Branding and Wayfinding Project:  For the past five years the Toe River Arts Council has led a branding and wayfinding initiative with 18 local government and art partners in Mitchell and Yancey counties and with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and six other funders.  Partners have met frequently throughout the years for planning and research on this project.  Now with plans completed and funding for signage in place, the wayfinding project is well underway in 2017/2018. The marketing plan for this region has been created and implementation has begun.  All plans will be continually reviewed and updated.  The effect of these efforts is a real opportunity for economic growth for the arts in this community, the Toe River Arts continues as the coordinating agency.

The SmART Initiative, a program of the North Carolina Arts Council, is built on utilizing the arts as a method for economic development in cities and towns in North Carolina.  TRAC applied in 2012 for the Town of Burnsville and is now viewed as one of the most successful pilot programs in this arena. Project emphasis has been on empty buildings in the town, the creation of an arts center in the former library building that sits on the square, the creation of a town historic district, and creation of gateways on Highway 19E into Burnsville as the highway widened from 2 to 4 lanes.  With a national search, the SmART group selected nationally known public art planner, Jack Mackie, as the artist for the project. He has worked closely with NC DOT landscape designer and engineers throughout the several years of planning, guided the Town in passing a 2% resolution for the arts in 2015, and designed a one-mile art project on Highway 19E for three gateways into the Town of Burnsville. The project also aimed to utilize local artists in the implementation of the artworks. The gateway project and its consultants from the NC Arts Council assisted NC DOT in creating their first-ever aesthetic plan for North Carolina highways.  Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, NC Arts Council, and local fund raising will install the first art piece in 2018. This project has caught state and national attention in Fall 2017 with a visit from NEA Chair Jane Chu, and then a few weeks later, Secretary of Cultural Resources, Susie Hamilton and Secretary of History and Archives with their Deputies. The SmART Initiative continues to provide consultants and statewide support to the arts council, local artists, Burnsville and the region.  The ED will have the opportunity to continue to work with this support network into 2018.

Membership:  Our organization is at a state of maturity that will enable us to create a strategic plan for sustainable income which will provide support for on-going operations and a strategy for on-going capital development. Membership renewals now take place each year in August.  Prior to that we utilized an anniversary system and were consistently soliciting renewals and memberships all year long. Members frequently were confused about when their membership was due, and we didn’t have a period for deepening our relationships with members. This change allows us a focused approach on membership. Renewal letters will now all go out at the same time, and best of all, this will help with confusion for our members. 

We also recently created new specific artist and gallery categories that have added promotional opportunities and benefits, and changed the amounts on other categories. Looking ahead we plan to implement a better donor management system including a software program that will allow monthly payments with “ease of use” and integration with our current accounting software.  We also will develop plans for recruiting new members and investigate the possibility of undertaking a major gifts campaign. Members are at the heart of our organization and we consistently explore avenues that benefit them through our programming and opportunities. We have approximately 450 members who annually support our work.

Challenges for Toe River Arts the Next Five Years

  • Our Studio Tours were one of the first in the country, and now many communities are looking at our Tours to sponsor their own. Additionally, our own wayfinding project efforts will encourage all-year artists’ studios visitation. As a result, we consistently find it necessary to review and reconceive them to keep them relevant.
  • We have a growing need to develop a new generation of leaders from the community who will serve as volunteers, board members, and committee members.
  • Our current loyal art consumers are now in the stage of their lives where they are no longer purchasing artworks as in the past. We must develop a strategy to cultivate a more diverse clientele of new and young art collectors, as well as new audiences for TRAC programs.
  • We need to be aware of and implement the latest proven marketing trends for our programs and services. We need to take advantage of all available communication methods to maintain regular contact and conversation with our members.
  • We need to solidify relationships with local government agencies and make permanent arrangements for sustaining provisions with those agencies.
  • Our current staff structure is functioning at its maximum level which requires us to explore ways to meet current as well as future demands.
  • Many of our long-term employees are near retirement. As a result, we have concern for continuity of knowledge of TRAC programs.

The Role and Function of the Executive Director
The ED is the face of the Toe River Arts Council and holds strong personal relations with community members, partners, and staff.  As an advocate for the interaction of arts and to help drive the economic success in Mitchell and Yancey counties, the ED is a present and enthusiastic individual who is passionate, rational, and sensitive to community needs.

The Executive Director (ED) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Toe River Arts Council. This will include staff and staffing, program development, organizational expansion, and execution of its mission. She or he will develop deep knowledge of the arts council field, core programs, operations, and business plans. The ED will attend regular Board meetings and keep the Board well informed of all substantive matters that require Board considerations, approval, or action.  The ED, along with the board chair, creates the agenda, updates the Board in a Director’s Report, secures the secretary and treasurer’s report, and sends those to the Board and senior staff prior to regular meetings.

The ED will provide the TRAC Board with an orientation and materials to insure board knowledge of TRAC programs and functions, and develop the annual budget for board approval. The ED will develop necessary policy or policy changes for Board approval and be responsible for implementing such policies.

The ED will maintain political awareness of arts-related matters at local and state levels, and provide a regional/statewide representation for Toe River Arts’ presence.  The ED will maintain close relationships with partners and potential partners including school administrations, local government officials, and area organizations leaders to promote a coordinated arts effort within the Toe River Valley. The ED will promote a positive public image of TRAC using all available communications media and publicize TRAC programs on a regular basis.

The ED will lead on-going assessments and evaluations of existing TRAC programs. Along with staff members, the ED will develop new community-based art programs for children and adults based on ideas, needs and available resources.

The ED will lead annual fund-raising projects and new areas of fund development, identify available funding sources, and prepare and submit appropriate grant applications with Board approval.  The ED will also lead grants management and ensure timely reporting. Financial management is a key and critical component of the ED’s leadership.

The ED will be responsible for all general functions of the TRAC office. This will include managing all aspects of human resources including conducting annual employee reviews, hiring and termination, developing position descriptions, setting compensation, working with employees’ supervisors, and applying board-approved employee policies and benefits in accordance with federal and state requirements. The ED will be responsible for all administrative staff and conduct monthly staff meetings. 

Qualifications for the Executive Director
A Master’s degree in arts administration or comparable experience is preferred with a proven record of successful managerial experience. We will consider an equivalent combination of education and experience. The successful candidate will demonstrate sensitivity to forming and maintaining organizational partnerships and the capacity to work with artists and community members. He or she must be dependable, ethical, possess good people skills, have good organizational skills, be able to manage a varied workload, and work with diverse groups. She or he must demonstrate excellent writing and speaking skills, the ability to create and oversee the financial management of a budget, familiarity with grant writing and reporting, and fundamental knowledge of basic productivity software applications and social media, and will reside in either Mitchell or Yancey Counties.

Salary range between $35,000 – $40,000, commensurate with education and experience. Vacation and sick time is given to full time employees.

Email cover letter, resume and three references to:
Accepting applications – November through January 2018.  Start date for the new ED is June 1, 2018.
No Phone Calls Please.





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