Active Creative Practice in 2024:
Ballroom Dancer, Fiction Publisher
Lived Experience History:
he/him, White Cisgender
Currently resides in Chicago, previously in California, Florida, Alabama
Cultural Leadership Roles
General Director, General Manager, Senior Vice President
Strategy & Creative Roles
Leading Initiatives at LA Stage Alliance, Arts Consulting Group
Formal Training in Business, Finance, and Theater Arts
University of Southern California, Florida State University,
University of California Los Angeles
Douglas Clayton brings more than 25 years of experience in the arts and culture industry, specifically within opera, theater, and arts service organizations. Passionate about innovative business models in the arts and culture sector, his driving purpose is to create more equitable and effective ways for talented and committed people to be creative and successful in our society.
Prior to founding CE, Doug was a Senior Vice President at Arts Consulting Group working with a variety of national leaders and creative organizations in strategic planning, business analysis, and executive search.
Before that, he served in various roles at Chicago Opera Theater, ultimately becoming General Director in 2017. In this role, he redeveloped the organization’s artistic identity and led the creation of a robust strategic planning and community engagement process that reversed a multiyear downward trend in audience attendance and donations. He also strategically prioritized recruitment and retention of key individuals, leaving the organization as the only multimillion-dollar opera company in the United States with an all-female executive leadership team.
As the Director of Programming and Operations for LA Stage Alliance prior to moving to Chicago, he used his multifaceted background to advise hundreds of performing arts organizations throughout the five-county Los Angeles region. He collaborated on multiple national infrastructure and marketing initiatives and was instrumental in the development and launch of the arts and culture focused customer relationship management system. Mr. Clayton oversaw the complex rules administration and online voting systems for the LA Stage Ovation Awards and initiated an innovative resource-sharing facility in Los Angeles for small and midsized theater companies. Additionally, he served as the Chair of the Host Committee for the record-breaking 2011 Theater Communications Group national conference and was a member of the Directors Lab West’s steering committee.
Doug has worked artistically as a stage director, playwright, and performer and has hands-on experience as both an artist and producer with a range of theatrical unions in the United States, including the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors’ Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists, and United Scenic Artists. Mr. Clayton holds a bachelor of science from the University of Southern California and earned a master of business administration from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2018 he was named to Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 list as a leading innovator in the business of culture.