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Clayco Future Leaders Fellowship
SUBMITTED DATE: 10/12/2020

A significant piece of Opera Theatre’s equity initiative, the Future Leaders Fellowship will support and cultivate future arts leaders and administrators from backgrounds historically underrepresented in opera and arts administration, particularly those who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color). Opera Theatre’s Clayco Future Leaders Fellowship Program will provide in-depth experiences that advance the skills, knowledge, and capabilities that make these careers possible. Fellows will serve in a full-time position specializing in one area (Advancement, Artistic Administration, or Administration) while gaining experience in a range of essential functions across the organization. Fellowships will be structured according to the individual’s skills and interests and OTSL’s needs, but all Fellows will gain hands-on experience across various areas, including artistic administration, fundraising, marketing, audience cultivation, and business administration. 

Through this fellowship, Opera Theatre seeks to introduce a diverse group of young professionals to the issues, challenges, and rewards of running an arts organization, whereby developing successful arts administrators who represent the diversity of our communities and who will add to the vibrant future of the opera field. 

All Fellows will receive a full-time salary, benefits, a relocation stipend, and professional development. The Fellowship will begin on Jan. 4, 2021 and conclude on July 30, 2021. Applications for the inaugural class will open on Sept. 30, 2020 with a deadline of Oct. 30, 2020.

Participating Fellows will:

  • Serve in a full-time position specializing in one area (i.e. the Artistic Fellow, Advancement Fellow, or Administrative Fellow) while also gaining hands-on work experience in a range of essential functions across the organization;

  • Receive individualized mentoring and training from OTSL staff and board members;

  • Be a critical team member in the preparation for and execution of Opera Theatre’s programming, including a Festival Season;

  • Utilize a curriculum and structure that provides appropriate guidance and instruction while encouraging ownership of projects, connection with partners for collaboration, provides information and resources for professional development, and empowers the Fellows in their future careers;

  • Participate in networking with leaders from across the St. Louis arts community and the national opera field;

  • Be a member of a cohort of fellows, and have access and connection to the developing network of “alumni” from the program;

  • Complete the program having further developed both the hard and soft skills needed to excel as an arts administrator, including an overarching understanding of how an organization runs, in-depth departmental experience, and professional development.

  • Opera Theatre is committed to:

  •  Employing a robust and diverse recruitment and selection process;

  •  Hiring a class of Fellows that reflect the diversity of talent, skills, and ideas of the St. Louis community, the operatic field, and the country as a whole;

  •  Providing a professional, supportive, and welcoming work environment and program structure that listens and responds to the needs of the Fellows;

  •  Paying a livable, appropriate wage with benefits, assisting the Fellow with finding housing arrangements if necessary, and providing a moving and travel stipend;

  •  Providing individualized mentorship, fostering confidence critical to entry level professionals;

  •  Investing in the training and professional development of the fellows beyond the work experience by providing networking connections and opportunities in St. Louis, and sponsoring participation in national Opera America forums and events;

  •  Investing in the success of Fellows by supporting their subsequent job search and careers, serving as references, providing recommendations, and continuing mentorship. 

  • Positions

Three fellows will be chosen for the 2021 class, one in each of the following positions:


As a member of Opera Theatre’s Artistic Administration Department, the Artistic Fellow will support OTSL’s artistic planning and activities for the Festival Season and across the year.

Includes responsibilities and areas of learning such as: coordinating activities for the Gerdine Young Artists program; contracting; union relations; company management; rehearsal scheduling; music and score preparation; planning of the annual Center Stage Concert


Working with Opera Theatre’s Advancement Department, the Advancement Fellow will work across the areas of Marketing, Development, and Community Partnerships.

Includes responsibilities and areas of learning such as: donor communications and stewardship; annual fund campaigns; grant writing and reporting; developing press releases and pitches; audience development; planning and executing ad campaigns; fundraising and community events


As a member of the Administration Department, the Administration Fellow will support the business management of the organization, in addition to partnering with various departments across the organization, such as the office of the General Director, Education, and Finance.

Includes responsibilities and areas of learning such as: governance and board management; budgeting; strategic planning; HR; community engagement and learning events; constituent relations (working with board members, volunteers, and VIPs visiting the Festival Season

Application and Selection:

Individuals from backgrounds historically underrepresented in opera and arts administration (particularly those who identify as BIPOC) are invited to apply. All candidates must complete the online application, which includes submitting a resume, cover letter explaining their interest in the program, and response to brief essay questions.

Applications will be reviewed, and interviews will take place this fall. Successful candidates will be notified by no later than Dec. 1, 2020.

Application is available at www.opera-stl.org/claycofellowship


 Eligible candidates must have completed at least two years of college level work or have equivalent experience in arts or arts-related work (administration, performance, or other related experience). Candidates may be aspiring or early career administrators or those transitioning from performance into administration. Strong candidates will have a passion for the performing arts. They will be self-motivated, balance multiple responsibilities effectively, and demonstrate strong communicate skills that will allow them to interact with artists, donors, volunteers, board members, and staff in a range of professional situations.


*Note: We use the term BIPOC to mean that we seek to serve individuals of color who identify as: Black/African/African American, Afro Latino/a/x, Caribbean, Chicano/a/x, Mexican, Central American, South American, Middle Eastern/North African, Indigenous Peoples, , Southeast Asian/Asian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Native Alaskan.

We recognize that these descriptions and this language is ever-evolving and will always be inadequate. If this description resonates with you, we invite you to apply.

Questions about Membership or this application? Please contact Vincent Covatto, organizational membership manager, at VCovatto@operaamerica.org or by calling 646.699.5237.
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