15.10.20: For over 115 years, the Abbey Theatre has played a significant role in reflecting Ireland’s evolving cultural, political and social identity. It has done so through the creation and staging of an important literary repertoire which has helped Irish people to understand and communicate what it means to be Irish. This role continues, as the nation’s sense of identity evolves, our population becomes increasingly multicultural, and as a major building project is developed to house the Abbey Theatre for the decades to come.

The Abbey Theatre’s mission is to engage imaginatively with all of Irish society through the production of ambitious and courageous theatre, in all its forms. Ireland’s National Theatre is artist-led and audience-focused.

The Board of the Abbey Theatre is now seeking an Artistic Director and an Executive Director.


Your principal accountabilities will be to:

  • Report to the Board, with responsibility for the development, articulation, leadership and realisation of the artistic vision of the Abbey Theatre.
  • Deliver unique, memorable, challenging experiences for audiences, which reflect and nurture Ireland’s artists in all their diversity, by making and presenting the broadest possible range of theatre.
  • Enhance the Abbey Theatre’s reputation by directing plays and commissioning and initiating artistic projects and programmes, which will further the promotion and development of Irish culture.
  • Lead the artistic vision through development and planning of ambitious multi-annual artistic programmes that align with and reflect the values of excellence, inclusiveness, diversity and equality set out in the Abbey Theatre Five-Year Strategy.
  • Address and plan for the artistic challenges associated with COVID-19.
  • Lead on the development of artistic activities which have potential to raise grant funding for the Theatre and contribute to and support proactively the fundraising and sponsorship initiatives led by the Executive Director and the Development Committee, specifically in relation to engaged supporters.
  • Provide leadership, in consultation with the wider artistic community, for defining the artistic requirements for the new state-of–the-art theatre.

You should have:

  • A flair for creativity and innovation allied to a strong reputation for successfully directing a diverse range of works of theatre.
  • In-depth experience and effective artistic leadership capability within the theatre world.
  • Knowledge of theatre, and a network of appropriate contacts within theatre at both national and international levels.
  • Demonstrable leadership skills, capable of inspiring and managing creative experts and specialists allied to skilled presentation and media skills.
  • Outstanding collaborative skills with an ability to create an inclusive environment that inspires people working with and supporting the Abbey Theatre.
  • The ability to balance creative risk with sound financial management linked to an understanding of governance and its importance in the smooth and effective operation of a national cultural institution.


Your principal accountabilities will be to:

  • Report to the Board, with responsibility for the delivery of the Theatre’s organisational strategy, its operations and its governance, within agreed budgets.
  • Support the Artistic Director in enabling and facilitating the realisation of a sustainable strategic artistic vision for the Abbey Theatre.
  • Work with the Artistic Director and the Senior Management Team, to develop, maintain and implement a sustainable strategic plan for the Abbey Theatre in line with the Theatre’s Five-Year Strategy.
  • Lead on the continuing development of the Theatre’s relationships with key stakeholders and institutional partners, including sponsors and donors, and provide oversight for the building of the new Abbey Theatre on its current site.
  • Create an environment of openness to innovation, including the development of innovative responses to meeting the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Provide inspirational and engaged leadership to the Senior Management Team and staff to ensure that the organisation embraces the values stated and implied in the Five-Year Strategy.

You should have:

  • A background and strong interest in the performing arts, ideally theatre, together with an understanding of and empathy for The Abbey Theatre and its vision.
  • Strategic and business planning ability, strong financial and commercial acumen, entrepreneurial flair, excellent communication skills coupled with an ability to deliver.
  • The ability to balance creative risk with sound financial management.
  • Knowledge of theatre, experience in contract negotiation, and a network of relevant contacts within the performing arts sector.
  • Experience of successfully overseeing complex projects, significant budgets and ideally having had full profit and loss responsibility.
  • An entrepreneurial approach and track record of securing significant amounts of external funding and of generating income from touring and Co-productions.
  • An understanding of governance and risk management and their importance in the smooth and effective working of a national cultural institution.
  • Excellent people management, leadership and motivational skills and the ability to resolve conflict.

If you believe you have the drive, passion and experience necessary to take on either of these challenging roles, you should forward a comprehensive Curriculum Vitae and supporting letter to Mark O’Donnell, Managing Partner, Odgers Berndtson by email to: applicationsdublin@odgersberndtson.com referencing Abbey Theatre, specifying which role you are applying for.

For a copy of the comprehensive Job Description for either role, or a confidential conversation with

Mark O’Donnell, please call +353 1 669 7030.

Closing date for receipt of applications is Monday 9th November, 2020.

Candidates for these roles will be sourced through both an advertised and an international executive search process.

The Abbey Theatre is an equal opportunities employer.