Martin Prendergast - ABOUT ME
30 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE CULTURAL SECTOR
After 30 years employed in the cultural sector helping arts organisations generate income I set up my own business in October 2018. My specialist areas are corporate partnerships and public affairs. I have worked with the National Theatre, RADA, Fane, the London Symphony Orchestra, Wilton’s Music Hall, Birmingham Hippodrome, Artichoke, Lightroom, the Bolshoi Ballet (through M&C Saatchi Arts) and The BRIT School.
My entire career has been spent in the cultural sector, first at Guardian News & Media, and then for 11 years at the NT, where I was Deputy Director of Development and then Director of Communications.
One of my longest-standing clients is RADA. Highlights from the last three years include the development of their new fundraising strategy, the development and launch of the Stage Critical campaign, the creation of a new partnership with Sotheby’s, and the performance of As You Like It by 2nd year students in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street, which was secured and delivered as part of their new public affairs strategy. In Spring 2022 I also led the successful project to secure world-leading status from the Office for Students and successfully lobbied for commensurate funding. I also secured RADA’s first visit from a serving Culture Secretary in January 2023.
Another client is Artichoke, who work with artists to invade our public spaces. The ambitious artworks they produce in cities, the countryside and on coastlines around the UK transform the way people see the world. I secured an editorial partnership with The Guardian in January 2023, for Season two of The Gallery, Artichoke’s ‘national gallery without walls’, in partnership with the Out of Home industry.
A PIVOTAL ROLE AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
As Deputy Director of Development at the National Theatre I had particular responsibility for corporate fundraising. By 2015 I quadrupled corporate revenue to £4m per year, and with my team I worked with some of the world’s most powerful brands to set up creative, high-value, long-term partnerships.
These brands included: Accenture, American Airlines, American Express, Aviva, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg, British Airways, Cisco, Coutts, Delta, Edwardian Hotels, ITV, Jaguar Land Rover, KPMG, Philips, and Travelex.
The projects I worked on included: Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, and Phédre, starring Dame Helen Mirren, both of which were sponsored by Coutts. I worked on War Horse in the UK, the US, Australia, and China.
During my time at the NT I created the American Express official card partnership, secured the AmEx sponsorship of the NT’s role in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Bank of America Merrill Lynch continue to support the education programme, Philips supported the environmental programme, Travelex made possible the NT’s affordable ticket scheme, and Accenture and Cisco are both still partners for the NT’s digital innovation.
As part of my work in Development I established the Corporate Advisory Board, a group of very high-profile business leaders to the NT’s corporate fundraising efforts through advocacy and networking.
I also established NT Forum, a quarterly high-level thought-leadership discussion series featuring contributions from former very senior politicians, media commentators, and journalists.
These events used NT productions as a springboard to a discussion about themes raised by the play. Discussions were chaired by the BBC’s Evan Davis, and contributors included former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Alastair Campbell, former cabinet ministers Lords Lawson, Heseltine, Hattersley and Charles Clarke, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, Martha Lane Fox, and Karen Pierce, then the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
I also led the campaign for corporate support for NT Future, the National Theatre’s £80m capital campaign, resulting in six-figure gifts from American Express and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who continue to support the NT.
I worked on international projects, including Amex’s sponsorship of War Horse in Australia, and Aviva’s global sponsorship of National Theatre Live, the NT’s world-leading scheme to broadcast live theatre into 2,500 cinemas in 60 countries around the world.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
In my three years as Director of Communications at the NT I transformed their Public Affairs activity, putting the NT in a position of influence in Government, in active dialogue with the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. Highlights include:
- Participation in the PM’s first trade delegation to Shanghai
- Mentioned at PMQs by the PM, and also in House of Lords
- Organised a photo shoot with War Horse and the then-Business Secretary, Sir Vince Cable, at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing
- Secured funding of £250k from then-Chancellor George Osborne in advance of a cultural delegation to China
- Secured attendance of the then-Business Secretary, and the then-Arts Minister, Matt Hancock, at consecutive gala fundraising dinners
I orchestrated a meeting between Rufus Norris and the then PM Theresa May to lobby her directly about an EU lighting directive and successfully arranged for the PM to attend a performance of Amadeus, one of only two cultural events attended by the PM at that time.
I developed strong and active relationship with the Culture Secretary and Arts Minister, as well as with Private Secretaries and SpAds at Number 10, including the Private Secretary with DCMS responsibility. I have a strong and ongoing relationship with DCMS officials.
I facilitated the development of their new mission statement, and I also developed the NT’s first digital annual review, a vital tool in communicating the NT’s mission and achievements. You can see it here.
I also placed and co-authored an Opinion piece from Rufus Norris in the Guardian about creativity in education which was shared 14,000 times.
The NT now plays an active part in shaping and responding to the Government’s approach to the arts, especially arts in education but also arts funding, and the state of theatre outside London and major cities.
As a member of the Senior Management Team at the NT I was one of the leads on diversity.
I am on the UK Council of the Creative Industries Federation, and attend their Higher Education networking groups. I am also a Board Director of the European Sponsorship Association. I am a proud Speaker for Schools, a trustee for Theatre Peckham and HOME in Manchester, and a Governor of the GEM Federation of Primary Schools in Southwark.
I read English and Theatre Studies at Warwick University. I am a committed amateur classical pianist and I am a regular cabaret pianist and singer.