The Society of British Theatre Designers

  • The Tempest
  • The Wearable Body
  • Othello
  • Barefoot in the park
  • “Zuanne of the Great Castle”
  • Stage 3 Life Cycle Costume Development
Staging Places: We Are The Storytellers Now - open until March 13, 2020 at V&A London


The Society of British Theatre Designers is a professional organisation run by designers for the benefit of designers. It was created to benefit theatre designers and their profession and to explore and further the role of the designer within the arts today.

What the SBTD does:

The SBTD acts as a hub for the sharing of information and communication between professional designer members. We are seen as the first point of communication in the UK by the International Scenographic community, and by International companies seeking professional designers.

We provide important industry related information for our members and promote their work through this website:


Every four years the SBTD organises an National Exhibition of UK design for performance at which professional members of the SBTD are eligible to exhibit, (next national exhibition in 2011). Alongside the exhibition we publish a catalogue featuring the work of exhibitors and stands as the most comprehensive record of UK performance design available.

We organise the representation of Great Britain at the four yearly exhibition of world performance design, the Prague Quadriennal (PQ). Exhibits for PQ are traditionally chosen by a panel from the national exhibition. (Next PQ 2011)

We strive to enhance the standing of theatre designers both at home and abroad.

The SBTD & Equity

The SBTD provides a valuable and complimentary service to that of Equity but our remits and capabilities are nevertheless distinct. As the union representing set, costume, lighting and sound designers Equity has put in place a series of contracts of employment dedicated to the concerns of designers working in theatre – with the ITC (Independent Theatre Council), the TMA (Theatrical Management Association – regional, national and commercial theatre, opera and dance companies) and SOLT (Society of London Theatres – West End and London). Equity provides protection of designers’ basic rights in these circumstances, as well as numerous welfare benefits and legal support. You may join as a student or graduate from a recognised course, or as a practising designer. Early membership ensures protection of your professional name plus advice and support at a critical point in your career. Theatre designers are recommended to join both organisations.

History of the SBTD

The Society was founded in 1975. The joint Chairmen were John Bury and Richard Pilbrow, its Vice-Chairman was Francis Reid. Members of its first Committee included David Hersey, Ralph Koltai, John Napier, Timothy O’Brien and Patrick Roberston. It had its origins in the earlier Society of British Theatre Lighting Designers, formed in 1963. It started life with the object of deciding on the most appropriate union to negotiate for designers. Since then it has developed and diversified.

For a fuller length account of our history click here