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Executive Director, EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center)

Apply now Job no: 494377
Work type: Full Time
Location: Troy, NY
Categories: Staff, Research: Media, Arts, Science, and Technology, EMPAC


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has partnered withf the Arts Consulting Group to identify candidates for the position of Executive Director, for the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) 

Interested applicants are invited to apply at this link: Executive Director | Arts Consulting Group (

Applications must include:

1. A cover letter that balances artistic philosophy with an understanding of the importance of academic research;

2. A resume that highlights a chronological career progression, education, and associated accomplishments;

3. A production-oriented curriculum vitae that demonstrates how the applicant’s past experience has made a meaningful contribution to contemporary arts, higher education, and/or society.

To submit materials (electronic submissions preferred), please click here: Executive Director at EMPAC | Arts Consulting Group ( For questions or general inquiries about this unique opportunity, please contact:

Bruce D. Thibodeau, President
Flora Stamatiades, Associate Vice President

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201 (Thibodeau) or Ext. 218 (Stamatiades) Email

Who we are

Why Rensselaer? Our dynamic global community of changemakers includes some of the world’s leading researchers, students, alumni, and faculty who ask the important questions and devise the scientific and technological innovations that make the world a better place for all of humanity. Nestled on a beautiful 275-acre campus in upstate NY, Rensselaer is home to five schools, 32 research centers, three makerspaces, an observatory, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, and the first IBM Quantum System One on a University Campus

Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, three astronauts, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit


Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center 

“The concert hall of the 21st century has arrived. But in addition, the huge building, laid out on a hillside, houses a 400-seat theater with comparable versatility; two black-box studios, one geared more toward sound, the other toward sight; and space for rehearsals and other uses. And for their electronic and data needs, all these components have access to one of the world’s biggest supercomputers.” The New York Times (10/08/2008) 

At the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Institute), the arts, sciences, and technology meet under one roof in four exceptional venues. This incredible 220,000 square foot building, designed by London-based Grimshaw Architects, opened in 2008 and is an unmatched model of acoustics, infrastructure, and architectural engineering with state-of-the-art performing arts infrastructure and architectural engineering. EMPAC’s concert hall features 1,165 seats with the ability to sculpt the acoustical soundscape for musical performances and equipment for screens, projections, and staging elements. The Goodman Studio/Theater and Studio 2 are versatile spaces that can be used to create immersive experiences utilizing both projection and sound technology.

EMPAC’s theater features computer-controlled rigging, a sixty-foot fly tower, and advanced recording audio and video recording technology. Beyond the four core venues, EMPAC houses residency studios, research offices, green room, soloists/conductor suites, changing rooms, and the main lobby level, as well as café and mezzanine levels, which are often used by students as studying and meeting spaces.

EMPAC currently commissions, presents, and researches interdisciplinary time-based visual art and the entire range of performing arts genres. It is on the precipice of its next era as a local, regional, and global research entity and destination in exploring the industry and market in which the EMPAC business model exists and how it will evolve. EMPAC will embrace how its purpose deeply aligns with the Institute’s Rensselaer Forward strategic plan in its 2024 Bicentennial and over the next 10 years with strategic themes embedded in Education, Research, Translation, Regional Engagement, and Welcoming & Inclusive Community.

The Institute’s strategic goals include becoming the premier arts and creativity-driven science and engineering university; creating a robust and holistic learning community focused on the generation and discovery of new knowledge, processes, and products at the interface of science, technology, and arts; and leading a renewal of and integration with the Capital Region.

Curatorial Activities

Artists-in-residence work with EMPAC’s technological resources in order to produce work at the center, often planned years in advance. Artist residencies are uniquely tailored to each individual artist, and members of the EMPAC production staff are deeply involved in the development of artistic ideas of the residencies. Artists in residence share their artistic research through the process, and visitors can also engage in experiences ranging from theater productions, concerts, and installations to an interdisciplinary program of screening, talks, and workshops. 

EMPAC resources are used for research by the Institute’s community and otherwise are utilized for meetings, workshops, and symposia. The unique polyvocal curatorial programs at EMPAC lead to the creation of diverse time-based artworks and hundreds of artists have created and presented their new works that foster deep artistic inquiry and audience engagement. The artistic projects are supported in depth over extended periods of time, allowing the artists to fully realize their visions using the exceptional technological infrastructure and the expertise of the EMPAC staff. Collaboration with other institutions, presenters, and museums is key to EMPAC’s goal of expanding audiences and connecting more deeply to the on-campus and external communities it serves.

Research Initiatives

In addition to its curatorial program, EMPAC is the center of robust research initiatives driven by Institute students, faculty, and staff from all five schools.

Using the venues and with the support of EMPAC’S professional experts, researchers are supported in work centered on the questions of understanding human sensory experience, communication, and interaction with computing systems. From student work to research and performance opportunities, extracurricular clubs to special events, EMPAC offers a range of ways for Institute students to be involved. Since 2020, EMPAC has also been part of the Google Arts & Culture project, allowing visitors to enjoy stories on various topics, including the building’s design and construction and spatial audio and wave field synthesis. While EMPAC is independent of any individual school of study, it plays a critical role in centering the Institute in the international discourse around arts, science, and technology.


Job Summary

The Executive Director of EMPAC will guide and deliver on its mission and vision as a global center at the intersection of the arts, science, and technology. They will be accountable for a strategic direction, business model, and adaptive change that are in alignment with the Institute’s Rensselaer Forward plan, including the goal to create the most welcoming and inclusive community possible for faculty, staff, students, and the external community EMPAC serves.

The Executive Director will maintain a presence both on and off campus by actively participating in the community and establishing international visibility at relevant conferences and other events that increase exposure and access to artists that could curate, produce, or be presented by EMPAC. These activities are focused on preserving an integrated interdisciplinary pedagogical approach to research, programs, and campus events that inspire active participation by faculty and students in and attendance at EMPAC.

The Executive Director will partner with each of the School Deans and Institute Administration to coordinate student learning outcomes, activating EMPAC as a hub for student learning on campus. They will oversee, inspire, and collaborate with a dedicated staff while investing in them and securing the resources that ensure EMPAC remains at the forefront of technological advancements.

In collaboration with Institute Advancement and the President, the Executive Director will establish and maintain a portfolio of donor relationships that support the capital and operating needs of EMPAC, including its facilities, programs, and research.

Additionally, the Executive Director will spearhead plans with the Office of Community Engagement and Communications to engage with local and regional organizations, as well as too raise the unique profiles of both EMPAC and the Institute in the region and on national and international levels.

EMPAC’s core annual operating budget in fiscal 2024 is $4.6 million with additional expenses embedded in the Institute’s operational structure, and it has approximately 40 full-time staff. The current direct reports to the EMPAC Executive Director include Associate Director (Arts), Associate Director (Research), Director (Stage Technologies), Lead Audio Engineer, Senior Business Administrator, Senior Systems Administrator, Manager (Communications & Grants), Manager (Design Communications), and Manager (Administrative Operations).



The successful candidate will have a minimum of a master’s degree, or equivalent experience, and 8-10 years of senior management expertise in commissioning, promoting, programming, producing, and/or presenting contemporary music, theater, dance, multi-media, or other experimental creative industry initiatives. A comprehensive understanding of associated production, capacity utilization (both venue and staff), audience development, and venue management is important. Although experience in an academic environment is helpful, those with demonstrable results in nonprofit or corporate structures are welcome to pursue this unique opportunity. Exceptional relationship management, donor cultivation, and creative industries expertise with leading producers and artists at the national and international level is preferred. The capacity to work flexible hours on evenings and weekends is required in best serving the needs of numerous stakeholders.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

The Executive Director will be a gifted collaborator and communicator who builds relationships and partnerships both on campus, as an ambassador in the community, and at the forefront of the experimental media and performing arts fields.

An entrepreneurial thinker with creative artistic spirit and a drive for innovation, the Executive Director will see the big picture, invite ideation from many sources, lead adaptive change, and have a futuristic vision.

They will bring EMPAC and the Institute together around a shared strategy and vibrant business model with an open minded, creative, calm, and diplomatic approach.

The Executive Director will have a wide network among innovative and experimental artists and will mobilize technology in artistic experimentation.

They will inspire trust by being human-centered, responsive, thoughtful, and strategic.

With the cultural competency to meaningfully engage and include diverse audiences and individuals, the Executive Director will support existing successful programming, partnerships, curation, and research while welcoming new ideas that propel EMPAC to new heights.

Key Competencies:

  • Leadership and Personal Accountability – The authenticity to influence and inspire others to believe and participate in an impactful vision while holding oneself answerable for personal and professional actions.
  • Creativity and Innovation – The capacity to invigorate new approaches, systems, processes, concepts, and ideas while also analyzing hypothetical concepts and formulating connections that result in new insights and opportunities.
  • Diplomacy and Time & Priority Management – The ability to analyze all aspects of a situation and listen to many points of view to make consistently sound decisions and facilitate agreements with and between multiple individuals and stakeholder groups with emotional intelligence.
  • Planning, Organizing, and Project Management – The dexterity to define and diagnose key aspects of a challenge and then establish a rigorous course of action to achieve the desired, multifaceted project and stakeholder engagement outcomes.

Starting Salary/Rate

Expected hiring range: $250,000- $300,000

Pay transparency disclosure: The selected candidate’s salary will be determined based on factors that include the available budget, internal equity, and the final candidate’s qualifications, experience, education and other job-related credentials. This hiring range is provided as Rensselaer’s good faith estimate of the expected hiring range at the time of posting.

Job Posted Date

Posted on 03.29.2024. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Applications received on or before May 15, 2024 will receive first consideration.

Total Compensation and Benefits Information

Rensselaer’s Total Compensation Program is designed to provide stable pay growth, a comprehensive and affordable benefits package, and a comprehensive and affordable retiree medical and prescription plan. Rensselaer is recognized locally and nationally for the depth and breadth of its compensation and benefits program. Our goal is to provide you and your family with a comprehensive health and welfare program as an umbrella of financial security and protection during your employment. For more information, please visit Benefits | Human Resources (

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

The Institute welcomes candidates who will bring a broad spectrum of cultural, ethnic, national, and international perspectives to its work and campus communities.

The Institute encourages all to apply, as diversity across race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, age, military status, disability status, marital or domestic partnership status, parental status, and all other identities is vital to its progress as an organization.




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