Job Opportunity

Job Description: Artistic Director

Contract: Permanent (subject to four-month trial period), full-time
Hours of work: 9.30am – 5.30pm and/or some evenings. Occasional weekend work will be required and repaid with TOIL
Salary: £38,000 per annum
Reports to: the Board of Trustees
Employer: Open School East, Margate

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About Open School East

Established in 2013 and located in Margate, Open School East (OSE) is a free, independent art school and community space that focuses on collective learning through the arts. We support cultural practitioners at an early stage of their career to develop and sustain their practice, and enable young people and adults alike to learn new and transferable skills, develop their confidence and shape their creative voice by becoming active learners and co-producers of OSE’s programmes.

Our free learning and development programmes are:

  • The Associates Programme: a part-time, year-long development programme for emerging adult artists and cultural practitioners from diverse backgrounds;
  • The Young Associates Programme: a full-time, year-long, accredited art and design/ functional skills programme for local young people aged 16-18 who experience difficulty in their education;
  • The Despacito Art School: a weekly art, craft and functional object-making class open to 5 to 12 year olds who lack opportunities to develop creatively;
  • The Public Programme: a multifaceted programme of events, activities and short courses open to everyone.

As an organisation committed to alternative provision, we strive to run our programmes according to principles of collaboration, experimentation and inclusivity, and welcome those who engage with these notions in different ways.

In July 2020, Open School East moved to a Grade-II listed building at 39 Hawley Square in Margate, giving the organisation long-term sustainability through a 15- year lease. The building is currently only accessible by stairs and a capital project to make the building physically accessible is in development.

Open School East is a registered charity and National Portfolio Organisation, supported by Arts Council England. Core and project funding come from a range of sources including trusts and foundations, and individual donors.

Job outline

The Artistic Director has ultimate responsibility for Open School East’s artistic vision and its delivery: they head the Associates Programme, lead the Head of the Young Associates Programme and devise the organisation’s artistic and curatorial outputs, which range from aspects of the Public Programme to OSE’s yearly commission, through to appointing and working with the Faculty and curriculum leaders to devise the directions of OSE’s learning programmes.

The Artistic Director works in close partnership with the Deputy Director in all areas of leadership, finance, fundraising and management to devise and deliver Open School East’s vision, mission and strategic aims; maximise opportunities for organisational development; build and sustain local, national and international partnerships; and lead on the planned capital project. Both Directors work in dialogue with the Board of Trustees to ensure the School achieves its goals and fulfils its responsibility to its stakeholders.

Key Tasks and Responsibilities

Artistic vision

  • Defines the vision, mission and values of Open School East in close dialogue with the Deputy Director and the Board of Trustees;
  • Takes overall responsibility for the organisation’s artistic vision and for researching and developing Open School East’s learning, public and commissioning programmes;
  • Appoints and manages the Associates and Young Associates Programme’s faculties in a way that furthers the diversity of the arts sector;
  • Mentors, supports and oversees the Associate artists, enabling them to develop their practice, devise aspects of the public programme and produce ambitious work to be showcased in the form of open studios, exhibitions and events;
  • Sustains relations with the OSE alumni and expands programmes supporting them beyond their time at OSE through commissions, employment, studio provision, mentoring and the passing on of opportunities;
  • Oversees the Head of the Young Associates Programme and the programme’s outputs;
  • Initiates, maintains and develops key project and funding partnerships, at regional, national and international level;
  • Develops new audiences at local, national and international level;
  • Works closely with an appointed team of architects, the Deputy Director and the Board to define and deliver the upcoming capital project.


  • Takes executive responsibility for governance and works closely with the Deputy Director and with OSE’s Board of Trustees to ensure the organisation meets high standards of governance;
  • Ensures that Open School East maintains an effective Board of Trustees of appropriately skilled members that reflect the diversity of UK society and of Open School East’s audiences;
  • Engages Trustees’ guidance and strategic support on areas relevant to their particular skill sets, as well as enthusing the Board with the programme and ensuring their support across advocacy, fundraising, organisational and staff development;
  • Liaises regularly with Trustees to ensure that they are fully aware of the School’s activities;
  • Works closely with the Fundraising and the Finance and Risk Subcommittees and participates in regular committee meetings;
  • In dialogue with the Deputy Director and the Trustees, invites new members to join the Board.


  • Works jointly with the Deputy Director to prepare annual operational budgets for approval by the Board and Arts Council England, and to monitor and manage income and expenditure;
  • As needed, works closely with the Deputy Director and OSE accountant to prepare regular management accounts;
  • Day-to-day management of artistic and communication budget expenditure.


  • Takes executive responsibility for fundraising, managing the input from Trustees and staff in the development and delivery of OSE’s fundraising strategy for the organisation’s growth, development and capital project;
  • Identifies and develops relationships with partners and funders for the learning and artistic programmes;
  • Works with the Deputy Director to develop and deliver the fundraising strategy, notably through grant application writing, to achieve agreed annual targets from trusts and foundations, individuals and businesses;
  • Works with the Deputy Director to manage relationships and fulfil agreements with core funders, including reporting on audience data and impact evaluation;
  • Under the direction of the Fundraising Subcommittee, leads on the direction of the OSE’s supporters scheme, securing support from individuals and cultivating existing and new relationships;
  • Oversees the Head of the Young Associates Programme and other staff in programming roles to ensure that these are delivered within budget and that fundraising targets are met;
  • Conducts due diligence on all raised funds in line with OSE’s Ethical Fundraising Policy.

Human Resources

  • Supports the Deputy Director to ensure that organisational policies and procedures meet current legislation and best practice standards in regard to the recruitment practice, health and safety, ethics and welfare of staff;
  • Line-manages the Head of the Young Associates Programme and staff in programming and communications roles, including undertaking bi-yearly performance appraisals and annual reviews in addition to regular planning meetings;
  • Inputs on staff members’ professional development and supports the Deputy Director to devise policies and procedures for staff training and mentoring;
  • Participates in the recruitment of senior staff posts, including shortlisting candidates and attending interviews;
  • Adheres to all human resources policies and procedures, including Safeguarding and Health and Safety in the workplace;
  • Demonstrates commitment to Open School East’s Equality and Diversity Policy.


  • Works with the Deputy Director to lead on the effective promotion and communication of Open School East’s programmes to the public and stakeholders;
  • Acts as an ambassador for Open School East, communicating and sustaining a positive image of the organisation;
  • Represents Open School East in networks and externally, including media interviews as required;
  • Presents and promotes the School’s activities to artists, other organisations and funders as appropriate;
  • Attends events, meetings and conferences to represent the School;
  • Actively participates in the local, regional and international contemporary art community, liaising with peer organisations and relevant networks – artists, gallerists, collectors, funders and other institutions – to develop working relationships beneficial to Open School East.


  • Undertake training and development as required;
  • Undertake other tasks as may be reasonably required by the Board.

Person specification


  • The ability to define and deliver a dynamic artistic vision;
  • Experience of working in a leadership role in an arts organisation;
  • A collaborative and inclusive leadership style with a proven ability to motivate, support and develop staff;
  • Experience of working cooperatively and the ability to forge mutually respectful and effective working relationships with diverse individuals and organisations;
  • Experience of mentoring and commissioning artists;
  • Knowledge of the publicly funded arts sector in the UK;
  • A track record of securing funding from, reporting to, and managing relationships with funders;
  • A network of contacts within the arts sphere, including patrons, museum and gallery directors and curators, and artists;
  • Good financial skills and experience of financial and business planning, and budget management;
  • A strong awareness of issues of equality, cultural diversity and safeguarding, with a commitment to Equal Opportunities;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • A positive attitude towards working with a diverse range of learners, participants and audience members;
  • Engagement with the organisation’s values.


  • Experience of designing learning programmes and understanding of alternative education;
  • Knowledge and understanding of the cultural sector in the East Kent and South East area;
  • Knowledge and understanding of social issues in the East Kent area;
  • Experience of managing relationships with Arts Council England or other comparable statutory funders, including KPI and financial reporting;
  • Experience of capital project delivery.


To apply please send a CV, cover letter (2 pages max) outlining your relevant experience and motivation for this role, and a completed monitoring form by email to: Should you have any question with regards to the role, please contact

At Open School East, we are committed to improving the diversity of our organisation as a whole and building inclusive cultures every day. As an organisation committed to anti- racism, LGBTQI+ rights and neuro-inclusion, we particularly welcome applications from individuals who identify with this ethos.

Deadline for applications: Monday 4 January 2021, 10am GMT.
1st Interviews to be held on: Monday 11 January 2021; online.
2nd Interviews will be held on: Monday 18 January 2021; in person in Margate (government guideline depending).