Job Advert: Executive Director

Job Title:  Executive Director 

Reports to: Board of Directors

Direct Reports: Marketing Manager, Venue Hire & Operations Manager, Box Office coordinator, Building, Bar and Health and Safety manager

The Bristol Improv Theatre is looking for an executive director to help lead this growing, independent and community based theatre into its next stage. We are looking for someone with a varied skill set in commercial and arts management who is looking to take on a challenge unique to the sector and to the community we serve. 

The Story So Far 

The Bristol Improv Theatre started life in 2012 as the Bristol Improv Network, founded by a volunteer-led collective of artists, teachers and producers to forge connections between the existing improv groups in Bristol. After a debut performance at the Bristol Old Vic’s Improv Jam, they ran the first Bristol Improv Festival in 2013 from a series of pubs and music venues, featuring a line-up of local and visiting acts including Racing Minds, Project2, Closer Each Day, Instant Wit and Degrees of Error.

Two festivals, hundreds of classes and jams, and various venues (at wildly different levels of suitability) later, they started producing regular shows from the Polish Ex-servicemen’s Club on St Paul’s Road in Clifton and two years later became permanent tenants of the building. In two months, £27k of crowdfunding and a team of 40+ volunteers transformed this former-Victorian-schoolhouse-turned-working-mens-club-cum-live-music-venue into a purpose-built 120-seat theatre space, with licensed bar, rehearsal rooms and office.

Thanks to the hard work of their team and the support of their incredible community, a small project to unite Bristol’s improv scene has grown into a thriving multi-disciplinary cultural venue where Bristolians can engage with the arts in a truly participative environment.

We have survived so far through our commercial activity including ticket sales, course sales, venue hire, renting out accommodation in the venue and teaching applied improv sessions. We were able to navigate the pandemic through applying for Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Funds and careful planning on how to come back under tight restrictions. 

We are now back to full capacity and busier than ever, but have been hit hard by higher utilities costs, lower disposable income for our core audience of 25 – 40 year olds and unpredictable weather conditions affecting seasonal demand.

We are towards the end of the process of becoming a charity, have developed relationships with partners such as U.W.E and Bristol Film Festival, and have become a well-known centre for some of the best improvised work in the U.K. 

Job Description

Pay: £20,880*

Hours: We are open to hear about potential working schedules, with a preference that this role is as close to F/T as possible

*The pay is under industry-rate as we are a very young theatre with no public funding. We are still growing the organisation and are looking for someone who can help set and achieve targets for a pay-rise across all roles. 

As executive director of the Bristol Improv Theatre, you will be responsible for the business development and growth of the UK’s first dedicated improv theatre. You will work alongside the artistic director to provide overall management of the organisation. 

You will work to increase income across all sectors of the organisation including shows, theatre school, venue hire and bar with the view of safeguarding the improv theatre’s future, and increasing pay for all staff. 

All of your work will be in line with the organisation’s mission, vision and values, with accountability to the board of directors. As a business leader, you will be expected to be an ambassador to the organisation, maintaining professionalism and good business practices at all times. 

This role directly reports to the board of directors, who will provide support through board meetings and ad-hoc 1:1 sessions. 


Business Development: 

  • Managing all of the theatre’s commercial operations 
  • Development of the business with a view to long-term growth and sustainability
  • Wirht the artistic director, leading the organisation in its transition to becoming a charity
  • Line management of the marketing, venue hire, operations and box office departments, setting departmental objectives, performance reviews and appraisals with the relevant staff.  
  • Developing and maintaining key partnerships with other organisations, advisors and networks that will be beneficial to the organisation. 
  • Identifying skills gaps and organising training and/or recruitment to fill these gaps. 

Boards & Governance 

  • Work with the Artistic Director and chair of the board to schedule and manage quarterly board meetings 
  • Work with the board to identify trustee skills and diversity gaps and work to fill these gaps through recruitment


  • Management of the theatre’s finances including budgeting, forecasting, VAT, book-keeping and reporting 
  • Paying and raising invoices 
  • Monthly and quarterly reports to present the financial position of the company at executive and board level 
  • Working with our accountant on payroll and completing statutory accounts
  • Completing an annual pay review with the HR manager. 
  • Identifying and working with the AD on funding bids 


  • Work with the marketing manager to develop and implement annual marketing strategy
  • Identifying target audiences and how to reach them, with particular interest in young professionals and office parties. 
  • Supporting the Venue Hire Manager by identifying target clients and sending promotional Venue Hire materials

Venue Hire 

  • Regularly reviewing our Venue Hire rates 
  • Raising invoices for Venue Hire clients and securing prompt payment 
  • Supporting the Venue Hire manager with enquiries and communication with clients 
  • Reporting on the financial performance of venue hires 
  • Marketing Venue Hire, with daytime hires and creative offices identified as target clients. 


  • Regularly reviewing our operations with our operations manager and implementing any necessary changes
  • Working with the operations manager to resolve operational issues
  • Ensuring relevant operational information for audiences and students is communicated on our website and marketing channels
  • Ensure all of the theatre’s operations are compliant with internal, legal and charity policy. 

Building, Bar and Health & Safety 

  • Meet regularly with the building, bar and Health & Safety manager to get feedback from the events team and make improvements to the theatre. 


  • Assist Box Office coordinator with responses to the theatre’s general inbox 
  • Checking comms when they are vital to the business’s growth and reputation


  • Responsible for overall design of the website 
  • Working with freelance web designers to fix any problems that can’t be fixed in-house. 

Person Specification: 


  • Ambitious for the Bristol Improv Theatre and improvised theatre in general, with the vision, imagination and passion to lead the theatre into the next phase of its commercial development
  • A pragmatic and resourceful mindset that can make the most of the opportunities (and financial limitations) that running a venue of this size affords
  • Comfortable and eager to be an ambassador of the Bristol Improv Theatre to the community and wider public. 
  • Personal commitment to diversifying the Bristol arts scene and championing inclusivity in working culture and practices. 
  • The ability to work under their own steam, with excellent organisational and time management skills
  • A strong understanding of and ability to create and maintain effective administrative processes
  • The ability to manage, lead and inspire staff with patience, empathy and clear, well communicated direction
  • Persuasive and sensitive communication skills
  • Experience of business development and income generation within an arts organisation
  • Setting and implementing organisation-wide policy 


  • Knowledge/experience of applying for funding, particularly with Arts Council England
  • Managing customer service enquiries and complaint handling
  • Existing relationships with national, local press and trade groups 
  • Experience with setting and delivering marketing strategies with a limited budget 
  • Experience and understanding of software including book-keeping, CRM and POS
  • Understanding the financial reporting requirements of a VAT registered medium sized theatre
  • Proven interest and understanding of improvised theatre

How to Apply 

By Writing – please send a CV and cover letter of no more than 2 pages stating your suitability and why you want to apply for this role.
By Audio – please send a CV and voice note up to 4 minutes in length stating your suitability and why you want to apply for this role.
By Video – please send a CV and video up to 4 minutes in length stating your suitability and why you want to apply for this role.
Send to: 

Application deadline

We will be interviewing people on a rolling basis as applications come in, with a final deadline of Friday 15th December at 10am. Second round interviews will take place late December with an aim for the right person to start as early in 2024 as possible. 

The second round interview will involve a competency test and a presentation on how you would lead the Bristol Improv Theatre. 

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Amy Iles