national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, March 19, 2011


(Trish Downing, new MD of SABT)

The South African Ballet Theatre (SABT) has annouced that Trish Downing has been appointed as the Company’s new Managing Director (MD). SABT is a non-profit making, Section 21 Company and was established in 2001 after the closure of The State Theatre Ballet in 2000 (previously PACT Ballet).

Chairman of SABT Board of Directors, Mr Cedric Ntumba, said “Outgoing MD Fiona Budd’s dedication, tenacity and grace has seen her successfully steer SABT through some difficult times and, along with her co-Director Iain MacDonald, and the SABT management team, she has ensured that SABT reached its tenth birthday milestone this year. Finding a suitable replacement for her has been a challenge for the SABT Board but we are confident that Trish Downing has the experience and passion to make a significant contribution to SABT,”

Having started her career as an actress in KwaZulu-Natal, where she played lead roles in many stage, film and TV productions, Trish Downing went on to carve a successful career in communications and marketing with several of the country’s blue chip organisations. Her acting roles include playing Constanze in Amadeus, Viola in SABC TV’s production of Twelfth Night, Clara in the international TV series Reap the Whirlwind and Mercy-Joy in Send for Dolly, the English translation of the much-loved Afrikaans play ’n Seder Val in Waterkloof, to mention a few, while also being a presenter on M-Net, a regular actor on favourite radio serials and dramas, and doing extensive voice work.

Her entry into the corporate world was as a freelance copywriter for FNB, then Barclays, where she went on to head up the group’s external communication function. Here, she was able to play a continued role in the arts, by sponsoring various arts-related initiatives most notably the FNB Vita Awards programme - which encompassed theatre awards, annual visual arts and arts and crafts competitions and exhibitions, community theatre development laboratories, and the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella. While at FNB she was also responsible for starting the South African Music Awards (SAMAS). She moved to M-Net as Director of Corporate Communications, where she was involved in the development of the local film and TV industries through projects such as the M-Net All Africa Film Awards and New Directions and also ran the M-Net Literary Awards and Red Nose Day.

After the birth of her only child, she moved to ABSA as General Manager: Corporate Communications and Customer Care, and thereafter took up the role of Head of Corporate Communication at Old Mutual South Africa. Trish opted out of the corporate world for some years to spend more time with her son, but continued working as a consultant. She re-entered the full-time work arena by joining Ster-Kinekor Theatres as Senior Manager: Marketing & Communications.

Trish Downing sees her new appointment as MD to SABT as the perfect marriage of her performing arts and business backgrounds. SABT Artistic Director Iain MacDonald welcomed her to the SABT family mentioning that “it is with great sadness that we bid farewell to Fiona who, over the past ten years has been fundamental in ensuring the ongoing success of SABT. We welcome Trish Downing and look forward to her joining us as SABT continues to present quality, glamour, escapism and magic to all.”

Trish Downing is also a Trustee of the Arts & Culture Trust, holds ATCL and LTCL Speech & Drama Teachers Diplomas from Trinity College of Music, London, and is a CPR (Certified PR Practitioner) and APR (Accredited Public Relations Practitioner).

More information from