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Client Stories: Meet... David Harris, Theatre Designer

This week, we hear from David, a client of The Arts VA, about his reasons for working with a virtual assistant and how this decision has given him more time for life outside of work.

David recently designed Wild Party, Royal Academy of Music - photo by Richard Hubert Smith

A talented and experienced theatre designer, David Harris has worked on many UK and international productions, such as Les Mis, Hamilton and Miss Saigon. Some of his recent design work also includes City of Angels, directed by Bruce Guthrie, and Wild Party, directed by Hannah Chissick, both for the Royal Academy of Music.

David was the first client to sign up with The Arts VA three years ago – here he explains why getting help with administrative tasks has given him more time to focus on doing the things he loves.


Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your work?


I’m an associate designer for theatre and have been working on West End musicals for the best part of a decade. As part of that I get involved in everything from initial design development, through to the build and eventual staging with lighting, music, cast and the rest of it. I normally work on about four shows per year and often that work is international. Right now, I’m in Tokyo. I’m also a gardener and try to spend as much time as I can growing the food we eat at home.

How did you come to work with The Arts VA?


I had known Charlie from my time working in a studio at Cameron Mackintosh’s office in London. Charlie had looked after most of my deals, contracts and general admin for CML so when she approached me about working together, I had just been through a very long and hard tech period and it was obvious that I needed support in order to be more effective and have more free time outside of work.


Did knowing Charlie help you make the decision to have a VA?


Due to the nature of the work I was asking Charlie to do, it was important for me to have somebody I could trust with my financial arrangements. Knowing Charlie previously sort of gave us a springboard to get right into it.


What kind of tasks were you struggling with?


I was looking to spend more time centring on the enjoyable aspects of what I do. I’m fairly capable at paperwork and emails, but there are not enough hours in the day for me to handle all of that on top of designing shows if I want to get down to the allotment at the end of the day. Charlie now handles a lot of the contracts, deals, invoices and travel arrangements on my behalf. And she’s great at it!


Have these tasks changed over time at all?


Naturally Charlie has picked up more as we’ve grown together. Recently Charlie spotted a spelling error in a biog I had written for a programme and edited it without me asking. That’s what everyone needs – someone with the confidence to take initiative and get on with it.

Do you have set hours each month or ad-hoc?


The ad-hoc thing works best for me. My work flows in very irregularly so that seems to make most sense.


What difference has working with a VA made to you and your business?


I’m a big believer in building effective teams where each person gets to do the things they’re best at. Charlie has helped me to raise my game and be more productive by taking tasks off my hands which she is faster and more accurate at. She’s also a great sounding board for ideas, planning and problem solving. I want to keep working with as many other people with different skills so I can keep learning and improving.


What do you like about having a VA?


I love my work, but it’s also important to have a life outside of it and Charlie’s input makes that more possible. As far as I’m concerned everybody should have a VA!

The Arts News

  • Check out the full casting for Cabaret, with Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley taking the lead roles. Performances begin on 15th November at the Playhouse Theatre London.

  • The Chichester Festival Theatre has revealed it’s winter 2021/22 season. It features a host of drama, dance, comedy, family shows and music with something to suit everybody.

We’d Love to Hear From You!


If you have any questions or would like to know more about how you could work with The Arts VA, contact Charlie here.






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