We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Mark Dobson as our new Executive Director. Mark joins the Royal Exchange Theatre his role as Chief Executive of the historic Tyneside Cinema, a unique and highly innovative organisation which, under Dobson’s inspiring and creative leadership, has been reinvented as an energising community hub in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne.
He joins the theatre at a time of creative evolution for both the organisation and the city, and working alongside Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom he will help develop and shape an ambitious future for the Exchange. Mark, who takes over Executive Directorship from Fiona Gasper, will join the Exchange at the beginning of July.
Sarah Frankcom said of the appointment,
Mark is hugely experienced, passionate and full of creative ambition. I am delighted that he will be joining us here at the Exchange and I’m excited to begin a new journey working in partnership with him. He has transformed an historic Tyneside building into a significant organisation much valued by its community and city and I look forward to what we can achieve together here in Manchester. Mark has an instinctive understanding of the journey we are on, of our building, location and the opportunities a producing theatre can offer to its community.
Mark, said of joining the Exchange,
Through 16 rewarding years of working in film, I never lost my passion for theatre and the intensity of live performance. My first ever visit to the Royal Exchange, more than 25 years ago, was to see Rod Wooden’s YOUR HOME IN THE WEST and that remains one of the most powerful and abiding theatrical experiences of my life. So I am thrilled and honoured to return to working in the performing arts at this extraordinary theatre, in its famous building in the very heart of Manchester and at such a significant moment in its history. The Royal Exchange is 40 years old this year and has just been awarded Regional Theatre of the Year. The quality and energy of the work it is making on stage and off stage, with diverse communities right across Greater Manchester is on a high and there is clearly much more to come. I am hugely excited by the bold ambitions that Sarah Frankcom and her team, Ben Caldwell and the board, have for the future of the Royal Exchange. I cannot wait to join them and play my part in their realisation.
Ben Caldwell, Chairman of the Board of the Royal Exchange said,
This is just the right time for Mark to be joining the Royal Exchange. His achievements in re-imagining and extending the artistic and commercial reach of another much-loved institution together with his proven ability to creatively collaborate and energise a team, will bring our iconic theatre even closer to the hearts of Manchester and our audience.
Mark Dobson was born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, brought up in London and Milton Keynes. He returned to the North East to study Fine Art at Newcastle University. He has forged a successful career in cultural management, working across all art forms, heritage and film. He worked for ten years in senior management roles in regional producing theatre at Northern Stage in Newcastle on small, middle and large scale productions and presentations and on tours, co-productions and international co-commissioning partnerships across the UK.
In January 2000 he moved into film, joining Tyneside Cinema as its first Chief Executive. The cinema was in difficult times and embracing the rapid changes of digital technology, he quickly turned the Tyneside around and then led it on a remarkable period of growth and regeneration. This included an award-winning £7m expansion and restoration of its historic listed building in 2008 and has resulted in a doubling in the size of audiences to 200,000 per year and trebling of turnover from £1-£3m. The cinema was awarded NPO status in recognition of its innovative work with digital media arts and artists and it is currently the Arts Council and Channel 4 ‘Random Acts’ network hub for the North.
In 2003, Mark created and then served as chair, of the biennial AV Festival which is now firmly established as one of the most imaginatively curated contemporary arts festivals in the UK. He is currently chair of the Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues, a ground-breaking consortium of the ten building-based cultural organisations in the city, working together to ensure maximum public benefit from their work.