Mark Da Vanzo tells us what he has learnt from his varied career.
Deputy Chief Executive, Pitlochry Festival Theatre (2012 to present)
I consider myself to have been in the right place at the right time when this fantastic job came up at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. I was looking for a senior role within the arts sector that would bring together the experiences I have amassed throughout my career to date. When this role came up, I jumped at it as it would see me return to the artform that first sparked my passion for the arts.
Manager, Arts Investments, Creative New Zealand (2008−11)
It had been a long-term of ambition of mine to work for a government arts funder as I wanted a better understanding of how arts policy is delivered through a statutory funding body. Working alongside a portfolio of different clients gave me an insight into the different workings of arts organisations. We undertook a major review of our recurrently funded clients and introduced new funding models designed to meet the changing requirements of the arts sector. I also led the arts funding response to the Christchurch earthquakes which impressed on me the importance of the arts to people’s everyday lives.
Private Secretary, Arts, Culture and Heritage, New Zealand government (2009−10)
I was incredibly fortunate to be seconded to this position, a senior policy adviser to the minister based in New Zealand’s parliament buildings. I got to work on the development of new legislation that would significantly reform the way in which funding to the arts and heritage sectors was delivered. This role also gave me an overview of issues in the wider cultural and heritage sectors, which was extremely useful in contextualising the government’s arts spend against other competing needs.
Operations Manager, The Walt Disney Company, London (2006−08)
A really useful foray into the global corporate sector which gave me an excellent perspective on the commercial entertainment industry. I worked on the launch of the Turkish Disney Channel which saw me based in our Istanbul studios one in every four weeks. I loved the project management and troubleshooting aspects of the role and the sheer scale of the Disney operation.
Head of Business Development, Arts & Business London (2003−06)
A great role, advocating the value of the arts to businesses throughout London. A valuable insight into how businesses view their engagement with the arts and the refined arguments that need to be made to grow investment.
Senior Trainer, Expotel Hotel Reservations, London (2002−03)
My first job in London which used my teaching and IT skills. I looked after the training needs of the finance department which forced me to embrace financial terms and get to grips with a balance sheet, skills that have since been useful.
Manager, New Zealand Youth Choir (2000−02)
A great opportunity to work within the arts sector and gain experience in management. The choir had just been awarded Best in the World at the National Eisteddfod of Wales so was in great demand. While there I oversaw a tour to the USA.
Administrator, New Zealand Parliament (1999−2000)
My first full-time job and one that taught me how to work in an office and some basic web design. While there I would overhear conversations about arts policy which started my interest in the role of the arts in society.
Theatre Director (1997−99)
Following my theatre studies at Victoria University of Wellington, I started my career as a freelance director. During that time, I directed a large outdoor production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice which taught me how to manage large creative teams and budgets. I also ran my own speech and drama studio for 40 local children.
Mark Da Vanzo is Deputy Chief Executive of Pitlochry Festival Theatre.