Sara R. Leonard

Sara is an arts management consultant, researcher, and teacher specializing in audience development, strategic planning, and leadership & team development. With more than fifteen years of experience in nonprofit management, extensive work for and with arts organizations, an MA in Arts Administration, and a BA in theatre, Sara brings knowledge, humor, and skill to her clients as she develops the capacities of nonprofit arts organizations to fulfill their missions and be vibrant and vital parts of their communities.

Sara complements her work with clients by doing research both independently and in cooperation with MBK Analytics, with whom she co-authored the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2015 report When Going Gets Tough: Barriers and Motivations Affecting Arts Attendance. Sara and her collaborators also performed the Planning Study and Pilot Test for the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts for the National Endowment for the Arts. These projects build on her award-winning graduate research, which developed a community-generating approach to audience development for the nonprofit arts.

In addition to her consulting work, Sara is an adjunct faculty member and graduate thesis advisor for Goucher College’s MA in Arts Administration program where she teaches Managing Performing Arts Organizations. Sara has also served on the adjunct faculties of Westminster College and Drury University in Missouri.


MA, Arts Administration, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD

BA, Theatre, Davidson College, Davidson, NC

Arts administration has long relied on conventional wisdom and the “truths” of our field that are passed down in the trenches. They are based in the experiences of great practitioners, but the realities in which they are grounded are shifting more quickly than the conventional wisdom is. We need to complement the rich traditions that have stood the test of time with new methods, up-to-date research and knowledge, and fresh perspectives on best practices in order to serve our artists, arts organizations, and audiences successfully.