Chief Marketing Officer

Location: San Diego, CA
Reports To: CEO
Status: Full-time / Exempt
Salary: DOE/NEG
Direct Reports: 4 (Director of Patron Services, Director of Communications, Education Director, and Marketing Operations Director)

Mission & Vision

Our mission is to deliver exceptional performances and exciting, accessible programs to diverse audiences, focusing on community partnerships, and the transformative and expressive power of the human voice. Our vision is that San Diego Opera will be recognized globally as a leading example of adaptability, innovation, and sustainability, promoting diversity on stage, in our repertoire, and in our staff and leadership, with a commitment to world-class and emerging talent, and innovative use of technology.

Our Story

San Diego Opera is committed to creating a future for opera and the vocal arts by presenting exciting and exceptional performances to diverse audiences through the transformative power of live performance, innovative programming, accessibility, and community relevance. Originally founded in 1950 as the San Diego Opera Guild, the Company has emerged from the pandemic with serious momentum and in solid financial shape. Our soft opening is scheduled for later this year with a trio of concerts in October, November, and December, which will then lead into an abbreviated 2022 season, featuring 2 main stage operas in February and April. Virtual events and programming will also continue throughout the year.

Since 2015 the Company has been led by David Bennett, the former Executive Director of Gotham Chamber Opera, a New York City-based opera company which made its mark on the international arts community by presenting fully staged productions, from the Baroque era to the present, in unexpected and intimate venues. With Mr. Bennett at the helm, San Diego Opera continues to produce grand-style opera from the popular repertoire at the Civic Theatre while simultaneously diversifying our offering with unexpected works in venues unique to the San Diego region. In November of 2016 the Company launched the dētour Series, which explores lesser-known operas and works presented in a more contemporary and intimate setting. We are today a $9M organization, with a full-time staff of 25, supported by an additional 300+ seasonal team members and a corps of over 150 volunteers annually. Please visit to learn more about our organization.

Position Summary

Due to an upcoming retirement, the Company is embarking on a national search to identify an accomplished marketing leader who will help us define the future of opera in the greater San Diego region. They will serve as a member of our 5-person executive team (CEO, COO/CFO, CMO, Chief Development Officer and Production Director) and oversee the creation and execution of a cutting-edge marketing plan. This includes responsibility for all marketing, communications, audience engagement, and customer service/sales activities in support of the Company’s mission, branding, audience development, and earned income/revenue diversification goals.

We seek an extremely dynamic and creative CMO who will incorporate innovative marketing strategies and tactics from not only the arts sector, but also from leading corporations and NGO’s. They will naturally tend to look at things differently and bring a new, fresh approach. This will include leveraging data and technology to drive branding and outreach, boost ticket sales and take opera to new audiences across the greater San Diego region. The CMO will have ultimate responsibility for ticket sales and patron services, which comprise a critical component of the Company’s overall revenue. This includes generating in excess of $4 million annually through subscriptions, single tickets, education programs, and retail revenues. Working to increase audience engagement and growth, they will develop and manage an annual marketing budget, create short and long-term financial projections for earned ticket and retail revenue, and monitor all expenses.

Focus areas for this position

  1. Continually develop the SD Opera brand through innovative and compelling marketing.
  2. Create sensitive and effective messaging to help patrons feel comfortable returning to in-person performances, when safe to do so.
  3. Drive revenue through subscriptions, ticket sales and other diversified sources of income.
  4. Take opera to new audiences while deepening our connection with existing patrons.
  5. Work with our development team on strategies for growing subscribers into donors.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

  • Oversee the development and execution of SD Opera’s marketing and branding strategies and tactics, with a focus on audience expansion and revenue growth and diversification.
  • Lead and manage a skilled team of professionals, while fostering a highly inclusive and collaborative culture. Coach and mentor individuals to help them reach their full potential.
  • Apply an understanding and appreciation for the interconnectedness of earned revenue (ticket sales, subscriptions) and contributed revenue (philanthropy), devising effective strategies for maximizing the potential of both areas. Work directly with COO/CFO on achieving revenue goals.
  • Serve as a member of the Company’s executive team to develop strategic goals and objectives and oversee efforts to achieve them.
  • Ensure our vision and values around DEI are reflected in all aspects of marketing and communications; serve as an ambassador for inclusive practices internally and externally.
  • Devise strategies and methods for bringing opera to new audiences across the region; deepen the passion and connection of our existing patrons and donors.
  • Spearhead the development and deployment of cutting-edge digital strategies across the organization, particularly with regards to marketing and communications.
  • Partner with the development team to enhance the patron experience at every touch point.
  • Closely monitor subscriptions and ticket sales; work diligently to drive and diversify revenue.
  • Provide regular updates to both the CEO and the board, including monthly financial and revenue forecasts; serve as the staff liaison to the board’s marketing committee.
  • Prepare members of the executive team and board for interviews and public appearances; edit and approve talking points for all major interviews.
  • Ensure patrons feel a strong connection to both the organization and the art form.
  • Collaborate with other arts-organizations and community-based institutions to develop strategic partnerships for mutual benefit.

Candidate Profile

  • Passionate: cares deeply about the arts and brings an appreciation for opera; a natural communicator who can authentically convey the important role performing arts play in our society and our economy.
  • Determined: a resilient professional who is excited by the opportunity to lead during a time of significant institutional and social change.
  • Strategic: ability to see across the entire organization, with an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all the various people and functional areas; understands “the big picture”.
  • Collaborative: ability to build professional relationships and work effectively with a diverse range of people inside and outside the organization; always open to new ideas, strategies, and opinions. An exceptional communicator in all directions.
  • Connected: keeps a pulse on the social demands and trends that may impact SD Opera, developing creative strategies and tactics to ensure the Company’s long-term cultural relevance and financial success.
  • Creative: uses imagination and innovation to create compelling marketing and branding strategies; a connector of ideas and strategies who enjoys doing what has never been done before.
  • Listener: brings a highly developed sense of self-awareness and emotional intelligence who seeks first to understand, then reflect and act.
  • Customer focused: excellent relationship management and communication skills across all mediums (in-person, phone, email and virtual); demonstrates judgment, tact, and diplomacy at all times; polished and articulate; keeps the customer at the center of everything.
  • Self-actualized: ability to work with minimal supervision, someone who is innately driven and goal-oriented and enjoys “figuring it out”.
  • Entrepreneurial: someone who is excited to build something, who is naturally resilient and works through or around challenges.
  • Business savvy: a results-oriented leader who can translate business and operations plans into marketing and communications strategies, enabling the Company to achieve its goals.
  • Accountable: ability to take full responsibility for every aspect of the Company’s marketing and communications; highly reliable.
  • Charismatic: a true “people person” who enjoys interacting with the public, as well as donors, volunteers, and other VIPs.
  • Organized: incredible attention to detail, with the ability to manage several projects simultaneously; someone who naturally checks and rechecks their own work; demonstrates excellent writing, editing and proofreading skills.
  • Flexibility: able to commit to a varying schedule, including evenings and weekends as required.
  • Hands-on: someone who enjoys being on the front line and making things happen.
  • Proactive: constantly looking ahead, anticipating potential changes in scheduling and logistics, proposing new solutions and alternatives.
  • Confident: brings a “can-do” attitude, remaining calm and focused under pressure, self-assured in their skills and abilities.
  • Ethical: possess the highest ethical standards; ability to exercise discretion, professionalism, and uncompromising integrity.

For more information or to apply, please contact:

Sarah Thompson, Director
1855 First Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101