Combining decades of experience in team-building, audience-finding, and revenue-generating, the Sweibel Arts crew uses field-tested expertise and data-driven insights to help performing arts organizations elevate their marketing to new horizons.
Founder & President
In a career spanning three decades, Robert Sweibel (he/him) has developed a reputation as one of the most respected innovators and leaders in the industry. He has generated more than $250 million in earned revenue for performing arts organizations across the United States.
Prior to establishing Sweibel Arts in 2016, Robert ran the marketing division of Roundabout Theatre Company, the nation’s largest nonprofit theater, with three Broadway and two Off-Broadway venues. Robert was instrumental in launching Roundabout’s industry-leading Rewards by Roundabout program. He reversed a nine-year decline in subscription sales and marketed eight Broadway shows that brought in record revenue of more than $75 million before, during, and after Roundabout’s enormously successful 50th-Anniversary Season.
Before Roundabout, Robert presided over five consecutive seasons of record-breaking attendance and revenue at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. As Berkeley Rep’s senior marketing officer, he conceived the marketing strategies for five Broadway-bound shows and 28 world premieres, and launched Berkeley Rep’s innovative Entourage sales program.
Over eight years with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, ACT rebuilt and reopened its national historic landmark theater and grew its audience to the largest in company history. Robert has also held senior positions with SFJAZZ, the Arizona Theatre Company, and North Shore Music Theatre.
Service is intrinsic to Robert’s practice. He is a frequent guest lecturer, panelist, trustee, and mentor. A long-time sailor and a proud father, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and their cat.
Kate Brandt (she/hers, New England) is an arts and culture administrator and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in non-profit marketing and fundraising. Previously, Kate directed the marketing departments at Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI), Merrimack Repertory Theatre (Lowell, MA), and Artists Repertory Theatre (Portland, OR). She also worked in Massachusetts at Old Sturbridge Village and Foothills Theatre Company and in Oregon at Portland Center Stage and Broadway Rose Theatre Company.
Kate has a proven ability to exceed sales goals. She successfully reversed downward subscription trends at Trinity Rep and MRT. She also led comprehensive campaigns to increase brand recognition including orchestrating major rebranding efforts, logo changes, and website overhauls. Kate’s work is rooted in evaluating and improving marketing and communication strategies, using data analysis to exceed goals with limited resources, and maximizing efficiency through strong project management. She is a graduate of the honors program at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management where she studied both marketing and theater. Kate currently lives in Auburn, MA with her husband, two sons, and their dog Lucy.
Chelsea Burns (she/her, Stillwater, OK) is a veteran marketer, social scientist and organizational leader dedicated to cutting-edge, data-driven strategies that are proven to align target audience needs with organizational goals. With nearly 15 years of experience in all areas of marketing, she brings extensive applied knowledge to any situation. Her ideology on marketing includes a passionate focus on the customer experience, an integrated approach organizationally and a growth-oriented focus. She has worked in higher education, performing arts, nonprofit, business coaching, SAAS startups and residential and commercial real estate to name a few industries. Chelsea earned a Master's in Applied Psychology degree from the University of Southern California and has her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media from Baker University where she graduated magna cum laude. She is a mother to two tenacious daughters and enjoys spending what little free time she has walking, fishing and playing outside with the kiddos.
Thomas Cott (he/him, New York City) is an industry thought leader with a long record of success working on staff or as a consultant for some of America’s largest arts organizations, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lincoln Center Theater and The Metropolitan Opera. During 14 seasons at Ailey and 18 seasons at LCT, he was responsible for brand management, creative direction, audience development, multi-channel marketing, ticket sales, and the production of film, TV and online programming. As a management consultant, Thomas helped with the reinvention of The Metropolitan Opera in Peter Gelb’s first season and co-produced events for the Met Opera Guild; he also developed strategic plans for New York Musical Festival, Paper Mill Playhouse and Theater Development Fund, and served twice as an interim senior staff member at New 42/New Victory Theater. He is perhaps best known for “You’ve Cott Mail,” a free digest of arts news he curated daily for about 20 years. Due to its large readership, Thomas was included repeatedly in a peer-nominated list of “The 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts in the U.S.”
Caitlin (they/she, New England) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric from Rhode Island College. They have worked in the digital marketing sphere for nearly a decade, primarily working with arts organizations and small businesses. In addition, Caitlin is a published journalist and creative writer and teaches arts marketing part-time at Dean College. Caitlin is an avid traveler with 41 states and five countries under their belt and spends their time engrossed in words, media, and their pug, Winston. They define themselves as an Oxford comma enthusiast and are currently located in Providence, RI.
Darby Lunceford (he/him, Minneapolis) is an accomplished arts professional and administrator with a career spanning over 25 years, having worked in various disciplines including theater, opera, dance and orchestral. He started his career in New York City working on a multitude of marketing and advertising campaigns for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. He has worked with numerous arts organizations all over North America in a variety of roles from marketing services to consulting, with Executive Director posts currently at Lakeshore Players Theatre and recently The Phipps Center for the Arts. Prior to these appointments, he served as Chief Marketing Officer at MN Opera and Director of Marketing and Communications at Children’s Theater Company and Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington D.C, and as a Senior Managing Consultant at TRG Arts.
Opera Joe McKesson
Joe McKesson (he/him, New England) is a forty-year veteran of the entertainment business. A digital professional, artist and consultant, Mr. McKesson was the iTunes Music Store Producer at Apple Computer, winning a Webby in 2004. He has been at the forefront of digital music ever since and has worked with artists of all levels to create great online experiences. He has consulted on SEO, content curation, social media, and video production for companies ranging from MTV to Berkeley Repertory Theatre for twenty years. His recent clients have been The CiaoItalia Show on PBS, Perez Architects, Macy’s Online, New Orleans Opera, and many short videos for influencers to be. Joe is thrilled to bring his skills and experience to Sweibel Arts to help arts groups embrace the future of digital media and advertising.
Cecile Oreste (she/hers, Los Angeles) is a marketing consultant based in California. Prior to joining Sweibel Arts, she was the Head of Communications at the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. During her time in New York City, she worked as the Associate Director of Marketing at Signature Theatre and as the School Marketing Manager at Atlantic Theater Company. Cecile received a BS in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She earned an MBA through the Mountbatten Institute and American International College in London, England and Bangkok, Thailand. She has also completed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificates through Cornell University and the University of South Florida.
Eric Pargac (he/him, Los Angeles) has over 20 years of arts marketing experience. He began his career as a co-founder and co-artistic director of Furious Theatre Company, named one of the “Best Theatre Companies of the Decade” by LA Weekly. There he served as Marketing Director until he moved to New York City in 2010. In New York, he became the Director of Communications and New Media for Off-Broadway’s celebrated Vineyard Theatre leading the marketing department with a keen eye on new media trends while producing high-end video and podcast content for the company. During Eric’s tenure, two Vineyard productions transferred to Broadway (The Lyons, Indecent), The Vineyard produced 9 of the top 10 best-selling productions in the company’s history, and his final season set the record for highest ticket revenue in the company’s history. He moved back to Los Angeles in 2018 to serve as the Director of Marketing and Communications at A Noise Within where he exceeded ticket and subscription sales goals and was nominated for a Los Angeles Critics Circle Award for Streaming Design during the pandemic.
Sara Waugh (she/her, New York City) Sara Waugh (she/her, New York City) is a seasoned arts administrator, with over 15 years of producing, management, and marketing experience spanning both coasts. She's held casting, fundraising, event management, and interim leadership roles at award-winning LORT theatres such as the Clarence Brown Theatre (Knoxville, TN), Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles), and Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI), among others. From 2015-2021 she directed the marketing department for the Marin Theatre Company (San Francisco Bay Area) before relocating back to the east coast. A lifelong advocate for the performing arts and arts education, she enjoys recruiting, managing, and mentoring high-performing marketing and sales teams, and is committed to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism in every aspect of her work. She holds a B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2007), and a Master’s of Fine Arts and Master’s of Business Administration in Theater Management from California State University, Long Beach (2015).
Join our crew!
We are always on the lookout for talented, passionate, dedicated arts-oriented people who can help arts organizations take their marketing & communications to new horizons. Is that you? Please get in touch and introduce yourself. Even if we're not expanding the Sweibel Arts crew at times, we still want to know who you are, because we're always hearing about great open positions in arts organizations around the country, and perhaps we can point you in a direction you'll love.
Sweibel Arts wants to see the performing arts world — and the world world — become truly diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible. So we especially want to invite people from historically marginalized communities to get in touch. We're looking forward to hearing from you!
“Robert Sweibel is one of the best arts marketers in the business – a strategic thinker, excellent collaborator, detail- and data-driven manager, clear communicator, and all around great person. He helped Trinity Rep with interim services during a Director of Marketing transition, leading the efforts to produce one of our highest grossing productions in theater history. He was great to work with, and I would recommend him to anyone.”
Former Managing Director
Trinity Repertory Company