Profiles - A Light-Hearted Look at Industry Personalities

David Staples

Managing Director, Theatre Projects Consultants

No. 46 in a continuing series

David Staples

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Theatre Projects Consultants, one of the world's leading firms of theatre consultants, advises arts organisations, governments and architects on the planning, design and equipping of new and refurbished arts venues including theatres, concert halls, opera houses, and other spaces for performance. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II recently conferred on the Consultancy a Queen's Award for Enterprise for 2002.

As Managing Director David travels extensively. Theatre Projects has worked in some 52 50 countries and David has worked in 42 of those. His 22 year old son believes he has never met his father when he wasn't jet lagged!

David studied business administration and management before specialising in arts management. The Arts Council of Great Britain practical training scheme seconded him to various arts organisations around the UK to gain practical experience of theatres and their operations. Following a period as General Manager of a regional theatre in the UK he joined Theatre Projects as a consultant specialising in management and feasibility studies.

In 1985 he was appointed Managing Director and he specialises in working with clients on the early stages of planning for arts buildings and conducts feasibility and planning studies. A particular expertise is in project development - helping clients to devise and assemble a viable capital project including funding strategies, site analysis, design team selection, etc.

His completed projects include the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts in Canada, the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts in Los Angeles, The Lowry in Salford, England, the Portland Performing Arts Center in Oregon and the Broadway in Peterborough, England. All these projects have won major design and architecture awards.

Most recently David and the TPC team were consultants for the recently opened The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore's major new performing arts centre. On the week-end before the gala opening the Esplanade held an open house. Over 400,000 people visited the centre across the two days - over 10% of the population of Singapore! It was a great tribute to the centre and its design, slightly dampened by the realisation that the EVAC system was not fully working! The opening weekend marked David's 67th visit to Singapore.

In China he is advising on the Ningbo Opera House, in Oslo David leads a team working with Den Norske Opera on the planning of a new national opera house. In Oman, he is working with the Diwan of the Royal Court on the planning of a major new performing arts building for Muscat, the capital city.

David inevitably has a particular interest in aviation and airports and served for six years on the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee, an advisory body set up under Government legislation to monitor the airport's operations. One of the committee member's roles is to pass anonymously through the airport testing and monitoring all the facilities - customs, travelators, check in, etc. Luckily, these checks also extend to the restaurants - of which there are 47 at Heathrow! 

Richard Pilbrow, chairman and founder of Theatre Projects, recalls that David rose to prominence in TP during the company's major commitment in Iran. "We were involved in numerous projects to create arts centres mixing Iranian and Western tradition across this amazing (and wonderful) country. David became our office manager and was our last representative as the country collapsed. I remember well talking with him on the phone the day before he (and the Shah) left the country. Machine gun fire echoed in the background as I promised to tell his mother that he was safe and well. We had a wonderful Iranian driver, Mr. Babiah, who took David to the airport. David described arriving there. Mr. Babiah, being very protective of us all, drove up to the tanks lining the perimeter, jumped out, thumped on the nearest tank in fury, and opened the way. We were very please to welcome David home. Travel has many fascinations!"

David is a member of the board of directors of ISPA and a former Chairman of the Society of Theatre Consultants. He has lectured on every continent except Africa and therefore regards Africans as being particularly discerning!

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