THE artistic director of Bury St Edmunds’ Theatre Royal is to step down after 15 years in the role.
Since joining the theatre in 1996, Colin Blumenau has led its major restoration campaign, created 33 in-house productions as director and writer, established its Restoring the Repertoire series and been the driving force behind its apprentice and internship programme, Train.
“I’ve had a fantastic 15 years here – there have been so many highs but now it is time to move on,” he said.
The 55-year-old will be stepping down as resident director in July to become a freelance writer and director.
But his departure will be a ‘gradual’ one, with him returning in the autumn to direct Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and then later in the year as writer of the 2012-2013 pantomime adventure Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince.
He said: “In the last year I’ve had the privileged opportunity to have had time to hand over the chief executive part of my role to Simon (Daykin) and to work closely with him to plan the next stage of the Theatre Royal’s development.
“However, every creative enterprise needs constant rejuvenation and it is now time to hand over the creative baton to someone else while I look forward to developing my own writing and directing.”
Simon Daykin, current chief executive, said: “Colin has done a truly extraordinary job – under his artistic leadership the theatre has grown enormously in stature and reputation.
“Taking any organisation through the highs and lows of the last 15 years is no mean feat and in these straightened times of economic challenge – recent surveys show that arts audiences are falling nationally by eight per cent – it is testimony to his drive and skill that the Theatre Royal audiences buck the trend and continue to grow.
“His commitment to bring quality to the stage, and to Bury St Edmunds, is deeply embedded in the organisation, giving us rock-solid foundations upon which to build.”
A theatre spokeswoman was unable to say whether a replacement resident artistic director would be sought .
“We’re currently looking at all our options and I’m not able to disclose anything else as it’s only just been announced,” she said.
Colin said his decision to leave was ‘entirely positive and personal’ and had nothing to do with the theatre’s finances or influence from management.
He said: “For me, working at the Theatre Royal has been a truly life-defining experience.
“I have some brilliant memories as well as vastly expanded knowledge and experience.
“I also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all who have worked with me – staff, board, stakeholders and audiences – to make the Theatre Royal an exceptional and uniquely valuable part of the town, the region, and the nation’s theatrical landscape.”