It’s been a very odd few months.
Steering Eden Court, working with my team to tentatively emerge from the pandemic, but at the same time carrying a heavy personal weight.
I grew up in Plymouth and the Theatre Royal changed my life for the better and set me, in the early 90s, on a clear path. I knew at 15 I wanted, one day, to get Adrian Vinken’s job. I knew it would be a long wait and I’d need to achieve a lot to even make that remotely possible and, 26 years later, that dream has come true and I still can’t quite believe it.
A global pandemic changes things and it has changed me. Myself, my husband, and our boys, adore living in the Highlands but the truth is our personal lives here are challenging. We are isolated from our friends and all our family. The pandemic has sharpened that difficulty and made us reevaluate our priorities. We have missed those we love, and those who truly know us, deeply. We want to be closer to them and we want our boys to grow up with all their grandparents and cousins.
So, when the Chief Executive job at the Theatre Royal was advertised, despite very genuinely loving my job, I felt a very deep and very profound pull for ‘home’. Of course, the pandemic has made that pull feel more acute. I listened to it, thought very hard about all that we have achieved at Eden Court, and all there is still to do. I had many conversations with my husband, and three very special industry friends. What was *right* to do? For my career, for Eden Court, for my colleagues and for our family?
I decided to pass the decision on to others. To throw my hat in the ring and to give it my all. To see what might happen.
So, here we are. It’s the honour of my career to take on the leadership of the charity that shaped the direction my life would take. Adrian Vinken, and his colleagues, built an extraordinary organisation that allowed me to discover a passion for the arts and encourage me to achieve my potential. That’s the power of youth theatre.
All that said there is a sadness that we will be leaving the Highlands at the end of the year. Our stunning location, our extraordinary three century spanning heritage building, but mostly the people. Passionate, dedicated, talented colleagues, an amazing Chair, very truly world-class artists and the ambition we have for a 21st century civically engaged, environmentally sustainable, arts organisation. It really is one of the best jobs in the country and I encourage anyone curious about the role to explore that curiosity further when my job is advertised in the coming weeks.
I’ll always be indebted to Eden Court for giving me the opportunity and experience I needed to be appointed CEO of the UK’s largest and best attended regional producing theatre.
My whole career I’ve worked to further remove the barriers that had to be removed for me. As we continue to recover from the pandemic those of us with the privilege of power and influence will need to work harder than ever before to create the equitable and inclusive sector that is long overdue. I’ll never lose sight of that.
I share all this today in the spirit of Eden Court’s values: proud, ambitious, open and nurturing.
There’s still six months of my time here and there’s much to achieve.
This blog was written by: