RSC celebrates first year in new home

14 October 2011

Annual report for 2010/11 published today, at the AGM, as Sir Christopher Bland hands over as Chairman to Nigel Hugill and Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood announce their intention to step down by the end of next year.

The RSC released its 2010/11 Annual Report at the Company's AGM in Stratford-upon-Avon today and announced that, since opening the doors to the award-winning transformed Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in November 2010, it has welcomed over 500,000 additional day visitors to the building, served 48,000 diners, given 24,000 theatre tours and taken 55,000 people to the top of the new Theatre tower.

During 2010/11, the Company played to 90% capacity in Stratford, London and Newcastle upon Tyne and made £8.3m at the Box Office, despite a two month dark period and limited access to its stages as it moved back into its Stratford home.

The annual report highlights the completion of Phase 3 of the Transformation project on time, on budget and fully funded. £39.4m of the total £112.8m cost came from public donations from 26,000 people in 60 countries.
Sir Christopher Bland, RSC Chairman since 2004, welcomed the report, as he handed over Nigel Hugill, who takes up the role of Chairman from today. Sir Christopher also announced the intention of Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood to step down from their respective roles as Artistic Director and Executive Director by the end of next year.

Sir Christopher said: 'It has been an extraordinary seven years since I became Chairman and I am very proud of all that the Company has achieved. We reopened on time and on budget and our new home has had a fantastic reception from critics and audiences alike. The RSC's ambition soared last year, as we not only moved back into the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres with a major programme of reopening events and productions, but also took an eight play Shakespeare repertoire to London's Roundhouse, played a major season in Newcastle and premiered Matilda The Musical to critical acclaim.

'At the heart of this success has been true collaboration - with theatre staff and artists, with our audiences and many, many partners. Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood have led the Company brilliantly during this period of change. Together we've returned it to a sound financial footing and delivered on our ambition to bring actors and audiences closer together.

'After almost a decade at the helm, they have told the Board that they intend to step down from their respective roles as Artistic Director and Executive Director by the end of next year – leaving the Company in good heart and the way open for a new pairing to take the RSC forward into the future.'

Michael Boyd said: '2011 has been our most ambitious year since I was appointed Artistic Director in July 2002.
“We have opened the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre to unusual acclaim. Our new home is already much loved by the public and critics alike and has won many major awards. It's arguably the best theatre for the contemporary production of Shakespeare in the world. We also reopened the Swan, and quickly remembered how much we had missed our beautiful mid-scale theatre.

'We celebrated the 50th birthday of the RSC with our most successful season in both theatres, at the box office, and in the press, for decades.

'We took our long ensemble repertoire to New York, and were hailed 'the theatrical event of the New York Summer', housed in our extraordinary travelling facsimile of the new RST that only our workshops could have built.

'We launched the World Shakespeare Festival, years in the planning, breathtaking in scope, and the lynchpin of the UK's cultural programme to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

'Next month we open Matilda The Musical, eight years in the making, to a very strong advance at the Cambridge Theatre; together with our Stratford winter season of a thrilling, physical re-telling of the legend of Robin Hood, and a three play celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in the Swan.

'This is my tenth AGM as Artistic Director, and next year will be my last. I have always said that it would take ten years to make a genuine difference in the life and the soul of the company, and though ten years will not be enough to achieve all that I would like, it will be time for me to pass the challenges on to a new Artistic Director.

'If the RSC is in good shape now, it is in large part due to the expert, passionate and playful chairmanship of Sir Christopher Bland who today passes his challenge to Nigel Hugill, and to my chief co-conspirator Vikki Heywood. Her shrewd insight, her tremendous energy, and her robust rigour have made all our achievements possible. Our brilliant, wonderful company of every conceivable skill and discipline has made them a reality.'

Vikki Heywood said: 'I am immensely proud to have led the team that built arguably the finest theatre for Shakespeare in the world, which is loved by both artists and audiences. Delivering a £112.8m transformation project, which included a multi-award-winning theatre building, on time and on budget, has been one of the greatest achievements of my career.

'The word most often used by visitors to our new building is 'welcoming'. Over 500,000 additional day visitors this year are a testament to the enduring attraction of the RSC and a vindication of our decision to open seven days a week throughout the year. I am delighted that we've engaged such a wide audience and universal praise in our reopening.

'Michael and I have decided to leave at the same time because that is the right decision for the company. This is a planned and slow departure with a progressive transformation to a new leadership who will take the company forward for the next decade.

'I join with Michael Boyd in praising the terrific team at the RSC and I would like to give a huge thank you to Christopher Bland who has led the company so well and been my mentor and friend.'

Contact information

For press enquiries, please contact:
Liz Thompson, Director of Communications – +44 (0)1789 412667 and +44 (0) 7717 297181
Philippa Harland, Head of Press - +44 (0) 207 845 0512 and +44 (0)7887 837900
Twitter: @RSCPress

Notes to editors

1. Annual report

Download our Annual Report:

2. Appointment process

Following the announcement today, new Chairman, Nigel Hugill, will establish a selection committee, which he will chair and which will include members of the RSC board and at least one external appointee. The committee will identify an independent search firm or consultant to support the process.

The Board hopes to be able to announce new appointments in the first quarter of next year, beginning with the role of Artistic Director, but not precluding simultaneous recruitment of the Executive Director.

3. Long service awards

As part of the AGM, Michael Boyd, RSC Artistic Director, and Vikki Heywood, RSC Executive Director, presented long service awards to the following people:

Twenty years' service:

  • Alan Bartlett from Leamington Spa (Head of Construction and Technical Design)
  • Andrew Clark from Evesham (Carpenter)
  • Darren Guy from Stratford-upon-Avon (Specialised Senior Stage Technician)
  • Ross Kitching from Stratford-upon-Avon (Carpenter)
  • Gavin Reeves from Stratford-upon-Avon (Carpenter)
  • Michele Percy from Stratford (Executive Assistant and Clerk to the Governors)

Forty years' service: 

  • Julian Crang from Clifford Chambers (Senior Scenic Carpenter)

4. Images
For production images of all RSC shows and key staff, register free of charge on the EPO

5. Supporters

The RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST

The Learning and Performance Network is a three year partnership programme between the RSC and over 400 primary and secondary schools across the country. It promotes excellence in the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare plays and targets schools with least access to our work. The programme is supported by Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Nomura Charitable Trust as well as individual donors. Through the network, we have reached over 95,000 children and young people and worked with nearly 2,000 teachers.

Accenture and the RSC: High Performance. Delivered.
Since 2003, Accenture and the RSC have enjoyed a unique partnership. As our 'High-Performance Business Partner', Accenture's sponsorship provides us with financial support as well as pro-bono consulting services that help us improve our business performance so that we achieve the same unparalleled success commercially as we enjoy artistically.

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