The Armory Art Center (AAC) is a multidisciplinary hub of creativity that inspires the creation and experience of art and aspires to be the leading visual arts education and exhibition center of the Palm Beaches. Following the closure of the Norton Museum’s art school, a group of local artists, art teachers, and community activists—including philanthropists Robert and Mary Montgomery—sought to ensure the continuation of practical art instruction. To create a home for the AAC, the group renovated the neglected Armory building, which was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939 and served as a training center for soldiers and national guardsmen until 1982. The AAC opened its doors to the public in July 1987, saving the Art Deco gem from demolition. In 1992 the building was listed as the Robert & Mary Montgomery Historic Building on the National Register of Historic Places, honoring the patrons who were instrumental its rescue.
Today, the AAC campus consists of three buildings. The Muriel S. Kaplan Building, which served previously as the National Guard’s motor pool building, underwent a major renovation in 2000 to become modern, fully-equipped indoor/outdoor ceramics and sculpture studios. The Young Artists Studio Facility is an 11,000-square-foot, two-story building that contains studios and classrooms for painting, drawing, digital arts, photography, fiber arts, youth programs, and printmaking. The Morris & Rose Kraft Sculpture Gardens provide artists the ideal surroundings for plein air painting. Additionally, the original historic Armory building houses the administrative offices, jewelry and glass departments, and three exhibition galleries that feature an ever-changing roster of exhibits by AAC resident artists and faculty, Florida artists, and community partners such as the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts. In 2018 the AAC opened a satellite location, the Armory Art Center Experience, featuring demonstrations of techniques taught in art classes for adults, hands-on workshops for children, and art work for sale.
The AAC offers an impressive array of classes for people of all ages, including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, digital media, jewelry, printmaking, 3D printing, and virtual reality. Other programs include youth art camps and education initiatives, pop-up workshops, art salons, film screenings, visiting master artist workshops, and the West Palm Beach Arts Festival. The AAC also sponsors a nine-month Artist-in-Residence program, providing emerging artists with studio space, stipends, and the opportunity to exhibit their work. The AAC also offers unique healing art programs for human trafficking victims and veterans. The Art of the Phoenix provides therapeutic art classes to heal and restore self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth and the BraveHeARTS program promotes the rehabilitation of military service veterans to build self-esteem, nurture talent, and develop new skills through the visual arts.
The AAC is governed by a 20-member board of directors, led by President Ann Brown. The staff of 13 employees and 45 volunteers is led by Dr. Tom Pearson, Executive Director. The AAC also engages more than 60 instructors to teach courses and workshops. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the AAC reported total revenues of $2.1 million, with $845,000 from program service revenue and $1.3 million from grants, contributions, and other support. Total expenses reported were $2.1 million.
West Palm Beach is not only the largest city and government seat of Palm Beach County but also one of South Florida’s premier cultural hubs. With 110,000 permanent residents, West Palm Beach is undergoing a renaissance of development—blossoming into an urban center with numerous cultural treasures, excellent restaurants, new residential and office spaces, and a vibrant, expanding downtown. With no state income tax and low corporate taxes, the city is a highly attractive location for businesses and newcomers.
In addition to the AAC, West Palm Beach is home to cultural organizations such as the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Palm Beach DramaWorks, Center for Creative Education, The Society of the Four Arts, and Norton Museum of Art, which recently completed a dramatic expansion designed by award-winning architect Lord Norman Foster. West Palm Beach also boasts a buzzing nightlife thanks to popular areas like Clematis Street and Rosemary Square.
With stunning views and an average temperature of 78 degrees, residents can enjoy connecting with nature at sites like Lion Country Safari, Palm Beach Zoo, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, and Mounts Botanical Garden. Its waterfront is active with events such as weekly farmers’ markets, concerts, the Palm Beach International Boat Show, and the annual SunFest music festival. Across the Intracoastal Waterway is the iconic and luxurious town of Palm Beach, which features the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, The Breakers Palm Beach Resort, and Worth Avenue—known as the Rodeo Drive of the East Coast.
Most of West Palm Beach has convenient access to the major interstate roads. The new Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) provides high-speed rail trains that link the downtown area to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Additionally, Palm Beach International Airport is easily accessible and offers more than 200 daily flights.
The Director of Development (DOD) will have an exciting and rewarding opportunity to lead a new phase of philanthropic support for the AAC. Reporting to and partnering with the Executive Director, the DOD will work closely with a committed board of directors to engage in the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of major donors, leveraging the potential for significant gifts. The DOD will be charged with conceptualizing and implementing a comprehensive plan to grow the AAC’s support and donor base and will participate in planning for a future capital campaign.
The successful DOD will take a leadership role both within the organization and externally, interacting frequently with all segments of the West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County communities to establish beneficial relationships. Demonstrating a high degree of versatility and personal accountability, the DOD will focus intensely on achieving fundraising goals, create awareness of opportunities to support the AAC, and prioritize relationship building while executing the hands-on work required to build the development infrastructure and programs. Additionally, the DOD will manage a Development Associate and part-time Grant Writer.
Roles and Responsibilities
Patron Cultivation and Revenue Enhancement Strategy and Execution
Collaborate with the Executive Director and board to develop and implement long- and short-term fundraising strategies to meet and/or exceed the AAC’s annual fundraising goals.
Devise, implement, and manage a comprehensive fundraising program, including the creation of a development plan that maximizes contributed income from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government sources.
Proactively support the Executive Director and board to drive fundraising activity and personal engagement with top prospects.
Cultivate a personal portfolio of major donors, actively seeking out and initiating contact with current, lapsed, and potential donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporate partners.
Establish solicitation priorities, manage prospect lists and research, and develop and execute targeted cultivation plans and solicitation strategies for a range of prospects.
Coordinate and manage the annual direct mail appeal(s).
Represent the AAC at donor events, social functions, and community events as appropriate.
Determine the external (print and online) communication strategy for development to ensure regular and consistent messaging, collaborating with marketing staff on the creation and execution of communication plans.
Guide, educate, and engage board members in fundraising and advocacy with their professional and personal networks.
Lead staff and volunteers in development activities.
Development Events and Donor Stewardship
Partner with and support the event chairs and committee in the planning and execution of the annual gala to maximize sponsorships and revenue generation.
Propose, plan, and orchestrate donor cultivation and stewardship activities to increase engagement and generate contributions.
Develop relationships with key colleagues and artists to support annual giving programs, sponsorships, and special events and to create donor stewardship and recognition opportunities.
Provide reports and feedback to sponsors and funders who support specific AAC programs and events.
Departmental Administration and Operations
Design and organize a departmental plan of work to achieve annual operating goals for individual donors, foundations, corporate sponsorships, government grants, special events, and future campaign goals.
Prepare and monitor development revenue and expense budgets, provide accurate reporting and analysis, and oversee the proper maintenance of donor and prospect records.
Oversee the production of all development collateral, including copy and design of donor materials, working closely with marketing staff to ensure consistent branding and messaging.
Supervise and mentor the development team as it evolves by setting clear expectations, providing motivation, assisting in their professional development, and maintaining the highest levels of professionalism.
Assess and refine current development practices to ensure maximum efficiency and results.
Serve as an advisor and liaison to board committees as designated by the Executive Director.
Traits and Characteristics
The successful DOD will be a skilled fundraiser, proactive leader, and excellent relationship builder with the ability to pursue the AAC’s goals with creativity and determination. This individual will enjoy collaboratively interacting with colleagues, board members, donors, and volunteers, demonstrating leadership skills tempered by a customer service-oriented approach. The DOD will be self-directed with the versatility to juggle multiple priorities in a fast-paced environment. Receptive to new ideas and opportunities, the ideal candidate will bring an appreciation for creativity and the visual arts, a passion to positively impact the AAC’s success, and a desire to provide continuity of leadership through a lasting commitment to the organization.
Key competencies for the ideal DOD include:
Goal Orientation – The tenacity to achieve inspirational and attainable goals while building trust and the ability to lead, motivate, and organize a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders.
Customer Focus and Influencing Others – The capacity to demonstrate appreciation for the diverse views and needs of a multitude of constituents and build rapport with community, business, and philanthropic leaders.
Planning, Organizing, and Prioritization – The dexterity to establish realistic timelines and ascertain top priorities for optimum productivity of development efforts.
Teamwork and Accountability – The ability to build diverse and meaningful relationships, create active participation to accomplish goals, and respond conscientiously to a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and a minimum of seven years of development experience with increasing responsibility are required. Demonstrated success in a senior fundraising role is necessary, as well as a strong track record in the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of donors at all levels, particularly major gifts donors. Knowledge of the arts (especially the visual arts, museums, or related educational institutions) is preferred. Experience working with boards, senior management, and volunteers is essential, as are excellent written and verbal communication skills. An understanding of and/or experience in institutional marketing is a plus. Candidates must have the flexibility to undertake both strategic and hands-on, tactical fundraising initiatives. Strong computer skills—including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), research tools such as Wealth Engine, and donor database programs/customer relationship management systems—are necessary.
Compensations and Benefits
The AAC offers competitive compensation with benefits including medical insurance, flexible spending account, paid time off, self-funded 401(k) with company match after one year, AAC class discounts, a collegial and creative work environment, and the high quality of life provided by one of the Southeast’s most culturally vibrant and livable cities.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a cover letter and resume including demonstrable fundraising accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to: