Western Folklife Center Seeks National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Manager

Jobs, Professional Opportunities
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The Western Folklife Center, in Elko, Nevada, seeks a manager for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. This is an excellent opportunity for a creative person with events experience to add their signature to a nationally recognized event.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to use story and cultural expression to connect the American West to the world, and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a two-week coming-together of people rooted in the poetry, music, and arts of cowboy country. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is an immersive experience for those who appreciate the rural West’s boundless creativity and an open-hearted occasion to forge connections and grow knowledge among, and with, people who live life on the land. It’s a mid-winter, multigenerational, merrymaking event that draws 5,000+ people to Elko with dozens of shows, talk sessions, workshops, films, and dances, showcasing more than 100 artists in as many as 15 venues around town. The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to assist with and influence the Western Folklife Center’s other year-round public and educational programs as well as our media productions that explore and give voice to traditional and dynamic cultures of the American West. 

Located in the historic Pioneer Building in downtown Elko, Nevada, the Western Folklife Center is a nonprofit cultural center boasting an exhibition gallery, 300-seat theater, 20-seat black box theater, historic saloon, and gift shop. The Center’s archives house 35+ years of fieldwork materials, program documentation, and donated work that supports program development. Our digital platforms, including, are increasingly used to bring our programs to far-flung audiences.

Qualifications: Candidates should have a passion for the arts and creative cultural expression of the American West. They should have experience in event and program management, be able to direct staff and volunteers, develop and manage budgets, and contribute to grant writing and reporting efforts. Strong organizational and leadership skills, plus a demonstrated ability to handle multiple projects and meet deadlines as well as excellent verbal, writing, editing, and computer skills are required. The Western Folklife Center is seeking someone who is comfortable working in a collaborative, team-oriented environment and thrives working with a diverse group of staff, volunteers, and constituents. Interest and skills in program curation, media, archives, and digital storytelling are a plus. A strong design eye and a good ear are also valued. A bachelor of arts in folklife studies, ethnomusicology, cultural anthropology, or related field is a plus, but not necessary. Potential applicants who are not sure they are qualified for this position, but have a passion for what the Western Folklife Center does and think they could make an impact, are encouraged to reach out for more information.

Salary: This position pays $40k – $50k a year and includes a benefits package. It is based in Elko, although there are opportunities to work remotely for limited periods during certain times of the year.

Candidates should submit a resume and cover letter via email to [email protected]. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. For best consideration, submit by June 30, 2023.

Job Requirements

Begun in 1985 as a regional effort to showcase the tradition of poetry writing and recitation in ranching communities, the Gathering remains an important annual meeting place for poets, musicians, writers, filmmakers, gearmakers, visual artists, ranchers, cowboys, and western activists and enthusiasts. Now in its 39th year, the Gathering is a two-week event featuring performances, workshops, dances, films, youth education, speakers, and exhibitions. Responsibilities include:

  • overseeing programming, including curation and scheduling
  • communications (creative, contractual, and promotional)
  • contracting/supervising part-time and events staff, participants, volunteers
  • project budget management
  • grant writing and reporting
  • extending the reach of Gathering programs through media production 

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Manager also works with program staff to design and produce other events, educational programs, exhibitions and activities highlighting western traditional culture locally, regionally and online. This includes:

  • volunteer-led, participatory dance and music programs
  • year-round concerts and programs
  • contributing to our online presence and strategy

Learn more on the AFS Career Center.

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