Career Ladder: Sebastian Cater, the new Head of UK Theatre and Workforce Development

Career Ladder: Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre and Workforce Development

Sebastian Cater at Sadler’s Wells

Meet Sebastian Cater, the new Head of UK Theatre and Workforce Development. 

Date Published: 27 January 2020

What were your goals and dreams?

I caught the theatre bug at a young age when I saw some awe-inspiring performances, including Michael Crawford as The Phantom and Lesley Sharp in Cheek by Jowl’s production of A Family Affair.

Originally I wanted to act so I was in school plays and performed with the National Youth Music Theatre. I eventually realised that acting wasn’t my destiny, so I went to college in order to support the work rather than be the work!

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunities I had to enjoy theatre from a young age, which makes me even more determined to challenge the current decimation of creative arts in education.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

At National Youth Music Theatre I helped transform the auditions programme from a rather exclusive process into a more accessible initiative which increased the diversity of the participants.

I survived Edinburgh Festival both as a performer and a Company Manager - I really earned my theatre stripes there!

Working with Debbie Allen (Lydia Grant in Fame – one of my childhood heroes) on the multi-racial production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in London’s West End, and helping bring in a more diverse audience to the theatre.

[ Zoom ]
Sadler’s Wells Season Brochures, featuring old & new visual identity
Sadler's Wells Season Brochures

As Marketing Director at Sadler’s Wells I led a large programme of change, which included the implementation of a new visual identity, creating a new Friends scheme, and building a culture of data-driven decision-making. The aim was to increase customer loyalty and create new income streams, both of which we achieved.

Since becoming a consultant I’ve been an advocate for improving mental health and organisational culture in the sector. I hope that by speaking out and normalising discussions around this area I’ve helped change some attitudes and behaviour.

Last year I was invited to join the Board of Dance Consortium and it’s been a wonderful way of continuing to support contemporary dance in the UK since leaving Sadler’s Wells. More people need to experience great dance in their lives!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been a freelance consultant for the last year, helping organisations develop marketing communications and business development strategies. But what I’m most excited about in the New Year is becoming Head of UK Theatre and Workforce Development! I am passionate about ensuring that the sector can continue to provide life-enhancing experiences for communities around the UK.

Career Journey

I began my career at The Body Shop, starting on the shop floor then moving into management and ending up as a Sales Trainer, writing and delivering training courses and giving one-to-one coaching at stores around the UK.

I decided to retrain, getting a degree as a mature student, studying Arts & Education (Drama) at Bretton Hall College, part of Leeds University. Through this I got a work placement at West Yorkshire (now Leeds) Playhouse in their inspiring Creative Engagement department.

My professional theatre career began at National Youth Music Theatre, I have since worked for both not-for-profit and commercial organisations including Society of London Theatre, media agencies including Target Live, and most recently at Sadler’s Wells as their Director of Marketing & Sales.

Life Lessons

  1. Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Data insight helps businesses learn and grow.    
  2. Don’t be scared of innovating – lean into discomfort.     
  3. Lead by example, especially when it comes to having a good work/life balance. Perspective – and breathing – is everything.   

Inspirations

  • Anita Roddick - a trailblazer who challenged patriarchal business practices head on.    
  • Jon Bromwich at National Youth Music Theatre had such a positive can-do attitude and always dreamed big.    
  • Alistair Spalding at Sadler’s Wells for his vision to popularise contemporary dance.   
  • Eva Martinez at Sadler’s Wells for her intelligent, strategic approach to artist development.   
  • Dawn Farrow, CEO of Boom Live, for her passion and drive.    

You can find out more about UK Theatre's workforce initiatives by visiting our Workforce Development page.                                          

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