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Santa Barbara Symphony Appoints David Pratt Its New Executive Director

After an extensive nationwide search, the Santa Barbara Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of David Pratt as its new executive director.

David Pratt
David Pratt

He will assume his duties on March 2, 2015.

Pratt, a native of Australia, has more than 15 years of management experience in leadership roles across the performing arts, film and entertainment sectors in the United States and Australia. Prior to joining the Santa Barbara Symphony, Pratt acted as executive director for the Savannah Philharmonic, where he delivered substantial increases in audience numbers, donations and corporate support, producing annual surpluses above targets, and introducing new and engaging programs and events.

“After a thorough strategic planning and search process, the Santa Barbara Symphony is thrilled to welcome David Pratt as our new executive director,” said Arthur Swalley, Santa Barbara Symphony board president. “We are proud to bring in a great new leader to build on our current artistic and operational excellence. Even more importantly, Mr. Pratt is uniquely qualified to lead the symphony in our next stages of growth. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Pratt to the symphony family.”

“I am very excited and honored to be joining the Santa Barbara Symphony as their new executive director,” Pratt said. “The Santa Barbara Symphony is one of the community‘s most treasured cultural assets with world-class programming, great artistic leadership and highly respected education programs. I look forward to working with the board, staff and the community to lead the organization for long-term growth and success.”

Previously, Pratt held the position of senior event mManager with the G’Day USA Festival, where he created and managed a series of arts, cultural and music events across several cities in the United States. This included a partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival spotlighting Australian film and a series of performances in Los Angeles with the internationally acclaimed performer and composer, William Barton and the Qantas Choir. He also identified, secured and managed multiple event sponsor partnerships contributing significant funds to the annual $2 million budget.

Prior to returning to Los Angeles in 2009, Pratt held a senior management position as commercial enterprises manager with Australia’s largest and most successful orchestra — the Sydney Symphony. He was responsible for planning the symphony’s commercial season producing highly successful performances with artists such as Roberta Flack, Nigel Kennedy and Kate Ceberano as well as overseeing the program’s annual $3.5 million budget.

From 2006 to early 2008, Pratt was the general manager of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Australia’s North East tropical region. He had unprecedented success with record attendances, surpluses, and significant increases in financial support from individuals, government, and the corporate sector. He also worked on a short-term contract earlier in 2006, managing a series of fundraising events for the Sydney Opera House with the visit of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Between 1997 and 2006, Pratt held various management positions across the film and entertainment sector in Los Angeles. He organized the 2005 Australian Film, Music, and Style Showcase for the G’Day USA Festival. In 2001, Pratt founded Australians In Film, where he built the organization into a high profile film culture association with a sizeable membership, trusted long-term partnerships with US film studios and significant corporate support. In this role, Pratt oversaw monthly film screenings and events with actors, directors, and producers working directly with industry A-listers such as Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Baz Luhrmann and Philip Noyce. In this role he also created music and art events profiling emerging artists to the Los Angeles community.

From 1997 to 2004, Pratt was the Australian Film Commissioner for Ausfilm in Los Angeles, promoting Australia’s film and TV production sector across the U.S. entertainment industry. He secured over $600 million worth of production, was the undisputable driving force for the Australian Government introducing film and TV incentives, and was the catalyst for Ausfilm’s corporate support more than quadrupling from 15 to over 60 companies.

Prior to moving to the U.S. in 1997, Pratt was general manager at the Melbourne Film Office for the State of Victoria. He secured over $1 million in re-current funding from State Government for this newly established office, won the full support and trust of the local film community, and led major marketing missions in North East Asia, USA and the UK securing thousands of dollars of business.

Pratt has a bachelor of arts, graduate diploma in business administration, and a certificate in public relations. He is passionate about music, travel and exercise.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Symphony.

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