Julian Bird, the Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre trade bodies, representing theatres in London and across the UK, is to leave.
There is no news on who will take over the role, and whether it will be an internal or external candidate.
Julian joined SOLT in November 2010, and will exit the role in May 2022. Prior to SOLT he was COO of the Tate.
As a producer, Bird exec produces the annual Olivier Awards, and produced the European premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim and the centenary concert for Alan J Lerner, both for the BBC. He hosts a weekly radio show called “The Green Room” on “Magic at the Musicals”. Bird is also Chair of both the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, and sits on the Advisory Board of the American Theatre Wing, and on the West End Partnership Board.
Julian Bird said in a statement: “It had always been my intention to think about moving on around the 10th anniversary of my time in the role, which would have been in November 2020. As with so much, the pandemic intervened in that. However by May 2022 I will have been CEO for over 11 and a half years, and then feels the right time to depart. Before then we have much to accomplish, not least whatever the pandemic throws at our industry this winter, the completion of a comprehensive economic impact study for the theatre industry, and producing the Olivier Awards for the 11th time. There will be time to reflect on the past years in due course, but I would like now to express my enormous gratitude to both Boards, and the extraordinary team of staff that I have the privilege to lead.”
Eleanor Lloyd, who has been President of SOLT since 2020, said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire membership of SOLT, I would like to thank Julian Bird for an incredible tenure as our Chief Executive. He has transformed all areas of the organisation over the last 10 years and has led us with commitment, care and calm not least through what has undoubtedly been the most challenging period in the history of the theatre industry. We will miss him hugely and wish him very well for the future.”
Stephanie Sirr, President of UK Theatre, said: “Julian has been an extraordinary Chief Executive – UK Theatre has gone through enormous and very valuable change but above all his tenacity, strategic thinking and drive have been tested during this pandemic. The industry is in a much better place than it would otherwise have been thanks to his incredible work and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”
Julian Bird will leave a management team that includes long-standing execs Martin Scott, Chief Operating Office, Emma De Souza, Head of Marketing and Communications, and Louise Norman, Head of Legal Affairs; plus Phillip Brown, Head of Risk and Safety; Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre & Workforce Development; and Wayne Lee, Head of Employment Relations.