Associate Director of Communications, Arts and Public Life

Updated: about 2 months ago
Location: Chicago, ILLINOIS
Job Type: FullTime


AI Arts and Public Life

About the Department

The University of Chicago supports an ambitious suite of initiatives and programs to enhance the existing UChicago Arts landscape. These include the Arts + Public Life initiative and its flagship projects on the Arts Block, the Arts Science and Culture Initiative, the Richard Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. These University-wide arts programs join academic departments and programs in the Division of the Humanities and the College, as well as professional organizations including the Court Theatre, Oriental Institute Museum, Smart Museum of Art, and University of Chicago Presents, and more than 60 student arts organizations, in forging an integrative model for practice, presentation, and scholarship. Building on this work, the Provost’s Arts Steering Committee has developed a vision for the future of the arts that includes efforts to enhance public and campus art and develop new support for architecture, media art and design. To learn more please visit Arts + Public Life (APL), an initiative of UChicago Arts, is a dynamic hub of exploration, expression, and exchange that centers people of color and fosters neighborhood vibrancy through the arts on the South Side of Chicago. As a neighborhood platform for arts and culture in Washington Park, APL provides residencies for Black and Brown artists and creative entrepreneurs, arts education for youth, and artist-led programming and exhibitions.

Job Summary

The Associate Director of Communications, Arts + Public Life (APL), University of Chicago, directs, plans, and oversees the development of communications policies and programs for APL. Responsibilities include marketing, press relations, creative editorial and design services, and internal communications. As a member of the management team, the Associate Director leads the efforts to set and implement APL’s communications strategy and ensures publications, announcements, print and digital copy, collateral and promotional materials, and the like are consistent with APL’s narrative voice, storytelling goals, and communications strategy. In addition, the Associate Director sets the vision for APL brand and graphic design standards, oversees writing, preparation and/or delivery of information from or about the unit; manages the media, writes press releases, plans and organizes media coverage for major events, and responds to requests which may involve issues of a sensitive nature; oversees supervision of communications staff, interns, or volunteers, and develops and manages communications budget. The person in this position will also be responsible for website and social media content updates and implementation, email marketing, event setup, graphics management, and vendor coordination. The Associate Director reports to the Deputy Director and works in close collaboration with APL’s Director of Engagements and Partnerships and the Creative Entrepreneurship and Communications Manager.


  • Develops content and manages production for print and digital media consistent with APL’s narrative voice including program and project printed and digital materials, newsletters, and other APL printed and digital collateral including programming and exhibition collateral.
  • In coordination with the Director of Engagements and Partnerships, supervises the Creative Entrepreneurship and Communications Manager, particularly on the responsibilities related to communications.  
  • Manages creation, production, and dissemination of printed and digital publications for education, creative entrepreneurship, artist residencies, programming and exhibitions, development, and administration purposes, including annual Year in Review and informational brochures.
  • Designs email campaigns, web, print, and social media graphics. 
  • Develops and manages content for APL communications channels that include print (event posters, postcards, etc.); social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo); digital (websites, email campaigns, etc.); content development (news stories, blog posts, etc.); and strategic paid advertising and public relations efforts.
  • Oversees creative direction for photography and video.
  • Oversees supervision of communications staff, interns, or volunteers, and develops and manages communications budget.
  • Develops and implements a strategic plan for APL communications, including the opening of the upcoming Arts Lawn, in partnership with APL and UChicago Arts leadership.
  • Recommends communication strategies and marketing for new programs and new projects.
  • Develops and implements event marketing strategies that drive attendance. 
  • Manages public relations efforts, including initiation and nurturing of press, community, and vendor relationships.
  • Hires and manages PR firms and full-service agencies, when appropriate. 
  • Supports APL’s development efforts and team creating collateral material for fundraising initiatives.
  • Application of software analytics tools (Google Analytics, Squarespace, Eventbrite, Facebook, Hootsuite) to capture audience engagement and trends, traffic, and attendance for virtual and in-person programming.
  • Creates and executes pitches to local and national media to secure media placement.
  • Creates and manages systems for communications rollout of programs, projects, and spaces on the Arts Block. 
  • Prepares, catalogs, and maintains image, branding assets, and video database for print, digital, and press needs.
  • Coordinates communications efforts with University of Chicago units including University Central Communications, UChicago Arts, Office of Civic Engagement, UChicago News, and Office of the Provost, as well as other cultural institutions. 
  • Serves as a member of the UChicago Arts staff and assists with various programs and projects.
  • Trains office staff on office procedures and compliance protocols. Coordinates special projects.
  • Researches and analyzes data to create reports, and may create other reports for grants and contracts.
  • Performs one or more of the following marketing functions: marketing communications /advertising; Web blogs or digital marketing; market research; development or review and update of the marketing infrastructure and management of external sales agency relationships.
  • Monitors, analyzes, and reports on sales and circulation activity. Analyses possible solutions using standard procedures. Conducts market research, analyzes results and develops marketing strategies based on findings. May participate in developing new products and services, and determining new markets.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications


Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.

Work Experience:

Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 2-5 years of work experience in a related job discipline.



Preferred Qualifications


  • Master’s degree in communications, arts, design, marketing, journalism, or related field.


  • Five years of experience working in marketing and/or communications.
  • Background developing brands, public relations, and building audiences for the arts and/or University campus programs.
  • Experience with writing press releases, pitching media, and communications crisis management.
  • Prior experience working with a variety of civic arts organizations.

Technical Skills or Knowledge:

  • Strong computer skills including knowledge of email distribution software (such as MailChimp, Adobe Creative Suite, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator), and website administration (Squarespace experience; CSS/HTML a plus).
  • General knowledge of patron marketing strategy, campaign execution, branding, website development, search engine optimization, social media, and email campaign strategies.

Preferred Competencies

  • Excellent written and spoken communications skills, including knowledge of correct English usage, Chicago and APA style guides.
  • Handle confidential information with utmost discretion.
  • Successfully manage a workload that balances long-range planning with the unanticipated daily demands of managing publicly visible projects. 
  • Must be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and under tight deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong organizational, planning, problem solving, and project management skills. Take initiative, work independently and contribute as a member of a team.
  • Demonstrated success in building collaborative relationships with diverse constituencies and marketing to communities of color, specifically African American and Latino.
  • Manage conflict with grace and tact and propose creative, win-win solutions.
  • Must be self-directed and self-motivated, able to set goals and develop projects.
  • Clear, effective, and tactful oral and written communication skills; ability to handle sensitive information with discretion.
  • Manage a workload, prioritizing and executing multiple tasks simultaneously with an ability to view a project in its entirety.

Working Conditions

  • Considerable office work including ability to sit and use computers for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Travel to various campus and city locations.   
  • Work a flexible schedule (other than 8-hour day and/or 40 hour week) and travel to and from off-site locations.  

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)

When applying, the document(s) MUST  be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Job Family


Role Impact

Individual Contributor

FLSA Status


Pay Frequency


Scheduled Weekly Hours


Benefits Eligible


Drug Test Required


Health Screen Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


Posting Statement

Employees must comply with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements. More information about the requirements can be found on the University of Chicago Vaccination GoForward .
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.


Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.


We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.


All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check that includes a review of conviction history.  A conviction does not automatically preclude University employment.  Rather, the University considers conviction information on a case-by-case basis and assesses the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, the proximity in time of the conviction, and its relevance to the position.


The University of Chicago's Annual Security & Fire Safety Report (Report) provides information about University offices and programs that provide safety support, crime and fire statistics, emergency response and communications plans, and other policies and information. The Report can be accessed online at: . Paper copies of the Report are available, upon request, from the University of Chicago Police Department, 850 E. 61st Street, Chicago, IL 60637.

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