Smithsonian Folkways – Director, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (US)

Director, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

The position is located in the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), a research, collection, and public education unit of the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to the understanding, preservation, and sustainability of diverse cultural traditions in the U.S. and around the world. The Director of Smithsonian Folkways manages the content and business operations of the Smithsonian Folkways family of record labels and oversees the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.


Leading, Curating and Managing Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

  • Formulates policies, business plans, programmatic, research documentary, and educational goals and objectives for Smithsonian Folkways.
  • Determines guidelines, standards, and criteria for the generation and/or acquisition of Smithsonian Folkways collections of musical and other performance materials, and for the development of recordings and accompanying photographic and explanatory (liner note) content issued on Smithsonian Folkways labels and appearing in other public products.
  • Oversees and monitors the development and execution of short- and long-range plans to accomplish program goals and objectives.
  • Ensures appropriate coordination and integration of all program components in accord with sound business decisions and the achievement of high-quality products.
  • Serves ex officio on the Folkways Advisory Board to both represent Smithsonian Folkways and process the Board’s advice and guidance.

Leading, Curating and Managing the Rinzler Archives

  • Serves as the supervisory curator of the Rinzler Archives and its collections, including developing its goals, objectives, and annual plans in coordination with the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH or Center) Director and its senior managers.
  • Serves as staff liaison to the CFCH Advisory Council and the Folkways Advisory Board with regard to the Rinzler Archives.
  • Issues guidelines, standards, and criteria for the generation/acquisition, care, processing, and physical and digital accessibility of the Rinzler
  • Archives consistent with acquisition agreements, Smithsonian guidelines, and best practices.
  • Oversees the physical collection of artifacts in the collections, their inventory, care, and display in the Center offices, other Smithsonian museums, and venues.
  • Reviews and evaluates proposals for new collections, collection management, preservation, security, storage, digitization, and accessibility and major shifts or expansions in existing programs.

Managing Human Resources

  • Supervises subordinates in the Smithsonian Folkways operation and oversees their supervision of approximately 20 staff and dozens of fellows, interns, contract producers, and relationships with participating musicians, recording experts, and designers.
  • Supervises subordinates in the Rinzler Archives and oversees a handful of staff, dozens of interns, fellows, visiting researchers, educators, and contractors, and relationships with constituent musicians, artists, field researchers and documentarians represented in the archival collections.
  • Performs the full range of supervisory oversight responsibilities for all assigned staff and contractors.

Seeking and Managing Allotments, Revenue, Gifts, Grants, and Contracts

  • Develops, justifies, presents, and executes annual operating budgets for Smithsonian Folkways and the Rinzler Archives that meet program and financial objectives to the Center Director and Smithsonian management.
  • Ensures that collections, products, and activities generate sufficient income through grants, gifts, contract, mail order, retail and wholesale sales, licenses, downloads, streams, subscriptions, and other sources to meet expenses.
  • Oversees the development and terms of all Smithsonian Folkways business activities, all contracts—including those with sponsors and partners, wholesale and retail distributors, agents for subscription sales, streaming, licensing companies and individuals, online brokers, compilers, and service providers—to assure positive results with regard to the generation of income and net revenue.
  • Identifies and actively pursues additional revenue-generating and fundraising opportunities.

Smithsonian Collaboration and External Engagement

  • Represents Smithsonian Folkways and the Rinzler Archives on the CFCH leadership team, regularly reporting to colleagues on activities and issues.
  • Represents Smithsonian Folkways and the Rinzler Archives both within and outside the Institution and maintains active relationships with similar programs of other museums and educational institutions throughout the U.S. and internationally.
  • Coordinates programmatic and operational efforts with other programs of the CFCH including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, research, educational and sustainability programs.
  • Works with other Smithsonian units to assure high-quality, high-impact programs through joint programs or activities such as concerts or jointly produced publications and digital products.
  • Explores and develops joint products and activities in cooperation with professional organizations, museums, Smithsonian affiliates, national community organizations, and educational and cultural associations to create high visibility and good will for the Institution.
  • Participates in national and international forums, conferences, symposia, and/or performances and produces exemplary leadership, scholarly, artistic, and/or entrepreneurial presentations.

Conditions of Employment

  • Pass Pre-employment Background Investigation
  • Complete a Probationary Period
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer
  • COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS: For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.



Applicants must clearly demonstrate the necessary level of managerial and leadership skills and competence to perform successfully in this position. This includes a degree in museum work or an applicable subject-matter field, or a combination of education and appropriate experience that provides knowledge comparable to that normally acquired through successful completion of a four-year course of study in an applicable subject-matter field.


In addition, applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-15 level. Specialized experience is defined as the demonstrated knowledge and leadership skills as it relates to managing programs and initiatives of a museum, cultural or educational institution, business, or a similar organization with an emphasis on musical and verbal culture, cultural heritage, archiving, the recording industry and/or education.

The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

1. Knowledge of the diverse musical traditions found in the United States and among the world’s people.

2. Experience and demonstrated results in presenting musical and verbal artistry through scholarly activity, recordings, artistic performances and public programs, exhibitions, publications, and/or educational materials.

3. Experience and demonstrated results in the preservation of documentary and archival collections and increasing their accessibility and use for scholarship, education, artistic creativity, and/or community cultural development.

4. Demonstrated track record of developing, monitoring and adjusting budgets for income and expenses, generating revenue from the physical and/or digital production and distribution of sound recordings and the raising funds from individuals, foundations, corporations and governmental organizations through gifts, grants, and partnerships.

5. Demonstrated interpersonal and communications skills to build relationships and lead collaborative initiatives with both internal and external stakeholders. This includes ability to effectively persuade and influence stakeholders, build trust and credibility, and to form successful partnerships with a wide variety of constituencies (i.e., senior leadership, boards, donors, and staff) across an organization.

6. Demonstrated skills for leading and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce, including fostering teamwork and high morale, attracting, retaining, and mentoring staff, fellows, interns, and volunteers, and implementing EEO/Affirmative Action policies and programs.

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