Storyhouse Announces David Watson as New Chair of Trustees

Storyhouse has announced the appointment of a new Chair of its Board of Trustees.

David Watson will take up the role in November when the current Chair Peter Mearns steps down after seven years on the Board.

David is currently the Executive Director of Audiences and Media at National Museums Liverpool, where his responsibilities include leading a talented team across exhibitions, digital, marketing and brand, fundraising, PR and communications, strategic and creative partnerships, and audience insight. He is also founder and creative director of The Great British Gala, creative director of MikMen and a trustee of One Dance UK, the national body for dance, while previous roles include Director of Brand and Advocacy for Birmingham Royal Ballet and Head of Digital / Digital Editor in Chief for Hull City of Culture 2017.

The Board of Trustees provides governance and leadership, overseeing the strategic direction of the organisation in line with its charitable objectives and the law. Storyhouse’s Trustees come from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds and have professional or lived experience which they bring to the role.

Along with Peter Mearns, who became Chair in 2018 after seven years as a Trustee, three current Trustees are also set to step down from the Board this autumn. Former Chair, Geoff Clifton and Deputy Chair Sue Leech have been involved with Storyhouse since 2007, and Allan Owens and Louise Towers since 2011 and 2019 respectively.

Storyhouse chief executive Andrew Bentley said: “I want to welcome David Watson to the Storyhouse family – he brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and ideas which have been developed over many years working within the cultural sector, and I know he will be a brilliant new addition chairing the Board of Trustees as we move forward.

Trustees play a vital role in our organisation in helping to shape its direction and ethos, and we’re very lucky to have a fantastic range of committed people on our Board.

“While we prepare to welcome David this autumn, I also want to take a minute to thank the Board’s outgoing chair Peter Mearns and our other retiring Trustees for all their dedication, hard work and clear guidance over many years, some of them long before Storyhouse the building was planned, let alone opened.”

David Watson added: “I’m truly delighted and honoured to be taking over the role of Chair of Storyhouse.

“Storyhouse plays an important part of cultural life in Chester and continues to be a beacon of inspiration for many other cities and towns for the role it has played in social and economic regeneration, its hugely successful and unique integration of world-class theatre, cinema and library facilities as well as its bold, exciting, diverse, and award-winning programming.

“Peter Mearns has a great legacy with Storyhouse, and he’s been a truly fantastic Chair, and former Trustee, guiding Storyhouse through its renaissance having realised its ambition for a new building and facilities, as well as navigating one of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. He leaves Storyhouse in great shape financially and creatively and providing excellent foundations for us to build on.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Board and the leadership team as well as connecting with audiences, local businesses, sponsors, partners, and funders as we look to the future of Storyhouse.””

Outgoing Chair Peter Mearns said

“I’ve been involved with Storyhouse and its predecessor Chester Performs since 2011 as Trustee, Deputy Chair and most recently Chair and contributing to its growth, success and popularity has been personally very rewarding. I love that Storyhouse is so valued by our users and audiences who come from all sectors of our diverse communities and call the place their own. I want to thank the board and staff for their great work and dedication – it’s been a pleasure working with them. And I’d like to welcome my successor as Chair, David Watson who will bring exciting new perspectives to Storyhouse as it moves into the next chapter of its development.”

About David Watson

David Watson is Executive Director of Audiences & Media at National Museums Liverpool and is responsible for exhibitions, marketing and brand, digital, communications, fundraising, audience insights, strategic and creative partnerships and creative studios (design and production) for the group which comprises of seven world-class museums and galleries.

He is the Founder & Creative Director of MlkMen, The Great British Gala and Culture Couch.

David previously worked as a consultant for the arts, culture and entertainment sectors developing and leading artistic, brand, marketing, technology and digital innovation programmes. Prior to this he was Director of Brand & Advocacy for Birmingham Royal Ballet where he oversaw sales, marketing, digital and communications. He was Head of Digital / Digital Editor-in-Chief for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 where he was responsible for developing a first of its kind citywide integrated ticketing platform alongside overseeing the successful implementation of creative campaigns, content production and artistic digital innovation initiatives. He has previously worked in similar roles for organisations including English National Ballet, London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Opening & Closing Ceremonies, Royal Opera House and Rambert Dance Company.

David is currently a trustee for One Dance UK (the national body for dance), and previously a trustee for Hull based gig-theatre company Middle Child Theatre, Dance Umbrella and Islington Arts Factory.

Prior to establishing a successful career in his current field of work, David received professional dance training from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and went on to perform around the UK and overseas as well as choreograph for stage and screen.