Director of International Strategy
David Brownlee leads the expansion of TRG Arts’ work into new markets around the world extending its reach to help arts organizations increase their sustainable revenues. David joined TRG Arts in 2017 after its merger with BON Culture, the consultancy he founded with Mari O’Neill after working for a quarter of a century in the arts and cultural sector.
David’s early career was in arts marketing and fundraising. While at St Donat’s Arts Centre in South Wales, he managed the marketing for the re-launch of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival as a celebration of living composers. He moved on to become Sales Manager for London’s Royal Court Theatre, also marketing productions in the West End and on tour. He joined London’s largest multi-arts Festival as Marketing and Development Manager and re-launched it as the Greenwich + Docklands Festival before becoming Marketing Director for the Coin Street Group at the time of the launch of the Oxo Tower development on London’s South Bank.
He joined the fledgling Ambassador Theatre Group to open two large-scale venues in Stoke-on-Trent, attracting over 500,000 visitors in their first full year of operation. He then became Head of Arts & Entertainment for the London Borough of Lewisham, managing the Council’s theatre, arts team, and events program as well as the National Theatre’s Art of Regeneration program at the Albany in Deptford.
He then spent five years with Arts Council England in a variety of roles in the East Midlands and National offices, including time as national Director of Public Engagement and Strategic Partnerships. In his national roles, he was responsible for the development of the A Night Less Ordinary free theatre initiative for young people. He also commissioned the research on local arts engagement that has been used to select the areas for Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places program.
He left Arts Council England to become Head of Culture, Sport and 2012 for London Councils, the think tank and lobbying organization for local government in London. He then became the first Chief Executive of the National Network of Audience Development Agencies which he re-launched as Audiences UK.
After helping to establish The Audience Agency as a new national audience development agency for the arts, he joined what was then the Theatrical Management Association. As Executive Director he led the successful re-launch of the organization as UK Theatre in 2014. He left UK Theatre with earned income, membership, and turnover all at record levels and the organization benefiting from an unprecedented level of profile and influence.
While running UK Theatre, in 2012 he also became the founding Director of the Family Arts Campaign, one of the UK’s largest and most successful ever audience development initiatives. He continued in the role until December 2016.
In a voluntary capacity, he was actively involved in the campaign to establish an Audience Development Agency in London and subsequently served as the Vice Chair of Audiences London. He served on the Board of the National Campaign for the Arts from 2013 to 2016 and has led the work on the 50p for Culture campaign and all three editions of the NCA’s Arts Index. He served on the Board of Nottingham Playhouse in 2016 and 2017.
As well as his data analysis for the NCA, David has co-authored major studies for the sector including two editions of the British Theatre Repertoire Report. He has delivered keynote speeches on cultural policy and audience development in the UK and internationally and is a frequent contributor to The Stage.
David combines his role at TRG Arts with heading the fundraising team at one of the UK’s leading regional venues, Derby Theatre.