Steven Atkinson has announced he will step down as Artistic Director of HighTide in 2019, following 12 successful years at the theatre company.

Atkinson, who co-founded the company has been instrumental in launching the careers of many major playwrights, including Ella Hickson, Jack Thorne, Beth Steel, Nick Payne and Vinay Patel.

Atkinson said “Creating and leading HighTide has been such a brilliant start to my career. I’ve decided that in 2019, after twelve years as Artistic Director and CEO, it’s the right time to take up new opportunities in theatre producing.”

Tim Clark, HighTide’s chairman, said: “Steven’s contribution to HighTide, and to theatre in the UK more generally, has been immense. Starting with Adam Brace’s Stovepipe, which was listed in the Sunday Times Ten Best Theatre Productions of the Decade, his eleven years of leadership have been filled with many successes. These include Ella Hickson’s Boys, Nick Payne’s Incognito, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Neighbors and Al Smith’s Harrogate. He also led new festivals in Aldeburgh and Walthamstow, and secured a decade of Arts Council England National Portfolio funding. We now embark on finding a successor to Steven who will continue to bring passion, flair, integrity and commitment to the role of Artistic Director.”

Based in East Anglia, HighTide is one of the UK’s leading producers of new plays from emerging playwrights.

This year, HighTide will expand to three Festivals, presenting five world premieres at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, before transferring them to its Aldeburgh (11-16 September) and Walthamstow Festivals (18-30 September).

The 2018 Festival includes Tallulah Brown’s coming-of-age, folk-laced play Songlines, produced alongside HighTide’s associate company DugOut; Jessica Butcher’s two-hander musical Sparks which features original music by Anoushka Lucas; a gig-theatre piece Busking It about busking on the Tube; David Aula and Simon Evans’ The Extinction Event; and Harry Blake’s Norse musical comedy Thor and Loki.

Following Edinburgh Festival, various performances will join the five headline shows at Aldeburgh and Walthamstow Festivals.