York Theatre Royal – Liz Wilson Steps Down



The Chief Executive, who oversaw the multi-million pound transformation of York Theatre Royal and is credited with helping to reinvigorate the city’s cultural offer, has announced her intention to step down from her role this year.

Liz Wilson, who has led the popular theatre for seven and a half years, is planning to pursue new opportunities, leaving a legacy of multiple cultural and community activities that have raised the profile of theatre in the city across local, national and international audiences.

During Liz’s time as Chief Executive, the theatre successfully embarked on a number of major initiatives to bring it closer to the local community. The York Mystery Plays series, launched in partnership with York Museum Trust in 2012, saw a cast of 500 perform to 33,000 people in a custom-made outdoor theatre. The annual TakeOver Festival has achieved national recognition for enabling young people aged 13–25 to develop confidence and leadership skills by taking over the theatre, whilst the creation of the De Grey Cultural Hub has created a popular space for theatre, the arts and events at the heart of the city centre.

Reflecting on the decision to step down Liz Wilson said:

“The last seven and a half years have been the most memorable journey and I feel very fortunate and proud to have worked with an exceptionally talented and dedicated team. It is through their creative vision and ambition that we’ve been able to maintain a 270 year tradition of theatre-making and keep it relevant and responsive to a 21st century audience.

All of the big things we’ve done have been built of strong and mutually supportive partnerships. Our Artistic Director Damian Cruden and I have placed great emphasis on being rooted in the local community. That community has given so much back that I am sure the theatre’s role and impact will continue to grow.

It’s the right time for a change and I’m looking forward to new opportunities, but I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and I shall always remain a great friend, fan and advocate of York Theatre Royal.”

Damian Cruden Artistic Director said:

“Working with Liz has been a pleasure as she has been a true believer in the work and value of our theatre in this community. In particular, her determination to see the capital programme completed and in so doing to have created a theatre space fit for a city of York’s stature, is clear evidence that she has left her mark.”

Between 2015 and 2016 the theatre was closed for more than a year to enable a full £6 million refurbishment. Seeing the closure as an opportunity to do something different, Liz’s team worked with the National Railway Museum to build a 1000 seat venue and stage the award-winning production of The Railway Children, plus a major community production, In Fog and Falling Snow and continuing our commitment to the annual pantomime so beloved by the people of York and recognised as the best pantomime in the country.

With growing confidence, the theatre has also broadened its horizons, working with partners from nine European countries on the innovative active citizenship project Be SpectACTive.

Commenting on Liz’s decision, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ann Green CBE said:

“On behalf of all the trustees I would like to express our thanks to Liz for the talent, tenacity and tireless energy she has dedicated both to York Theatre Royal and to the city throughout her tenure as our Chief Executive.

Liz has brought the theatre closer to the people of York, raised our profile across the country, overseen some essential structural and operational developments and ensured we stage countless outstanding productions.

She leaves a legacy of successful initiatives from which the public and our partners alike will continue to benefit. As we wish Liz well for the future, we look forward to finding our next Chief Executive, who can build on everything that has been achieved.”

Plans are in place for the recruitment of a new Chief Executive. The theatre will work closely with the Arts Council to progress this.