UK Theatre has today (Tuesday 7 December) announced five new appointments to its Board, following an extensive Board recruitment process to address a skills gap and under-representation of some demographics in the current Board. These appointments better equip the organisation to fully represent its large and diverse membership in today’s cultural landscape, and to better represent the UK population.
Four new appointments are Co-opted Board members; Carolyn ML Forsyth (Executive Director & Joint CEO, Talawa Theatre Company), Colin Marr (Theatre Director, Edinburgh Playhouse), Louise Miles-Payne (Director, Creu Cymru) and Michelle Rolfe (Producer, Birds of Paradise Theatre Company). Joining them is Samir Bhamra (Founder and Artistic Director of Phizzical Productions) who becomes UK Theatre’s new Subscriber Board member following a recent election.
The announcement of these new additions to the Board is the result of an Extraordinary General Meeting in June, at which the UK Theatre membership voted overwhelmingly to adopt new Articles of Association, giving the organisation more flexibility to recruit more widely and diversify its board.
Stephanie Sirr, UK Theatre President, said:
‘As we emerge from the pandemic, we need more than ever to broaden our thinking and respond creatively to some of the challenges the industry is facing. Having a diverse Board strengthens our governance ability and will enable us to be increasingly innovative and relevant. The new Board members joining us all have significant knowledge and experience. We cannot wait to welcome them to the UK Theatre Board, working with them to guide our future direction’.
UK Theatre has previously worked to improve gender representation at Board level, as well as ensuring there was a diverse mix of Board members from across the UK's nations and regions, and from different roles and organisation types. This latest process, which follows a skills and demographic audit of existing Board members, has addressed additional areas of under-representation including ethnicity, disability, and religion. This recruitment process will continue in the coming months, as current Board members leave, and more information on this will follow in due course.
See the Board in full here.
New Board Members
Carolyn ML Forsyth has a 17-year track record of success as a detail focused senior Producer and Arts Manager, gained in roles within theatre, young people’s work, outdoor and site-specific shows, UK and International touring, and festivals. Carolyn is a passionate advocate of racial and social justice. She is currently Executive Director and Joint CEO of Talawa, the UK's outstanding Black theatre company.
Colin Marr has been Theatre Director of ATG's Edinburgh Playhouse since 2017. At over 3000 seats The Playhouse is the largest traditional theatre in the UK. Prior to this he was the CEO of Eden Court in Inverness for 20 years where he led the award-winning capital project that transformed it into Scotland's largest multi-arts centre and developed the Creative Learning department. He has previously worked at The Traverse Theatre and Queen's Hall in Edinburgh. He is currently a board member of Sunderland Empire Trust and has previously been a board member of Visit InvernessLochNess (Chair), Playwrights Studio Scotland, Scottish Film, Plan B dance and others. He was a member of the Scottish Governments Cultural Commission in 2005.
Louise Miles-Payne is the Director of Creu Cymru, which represents most of Wales’ professionally run theatres and arts centres and producing companies, and a range of individuals. Prior to joining Creu Cymru Louise worked in Enterprise at Cardiff University and at UpRising, a national youth leadership development charity. Before that she was a freelance creative producer and Head of Programming at Wales Millennium Centre where she joined prior to the opening in 2004 and stayed until 2016. Louise is passionate about enabling boards to fulfil their potential and has sat on the boards for WEN Wales, Creu Cymru (where she was also chair) and Carlson Dance Company. Louise lives in Cardiff with her wife and son.
Michelle Rolfe is the Producer for Birds of Paradise Theatre Company (BOP). BOP is Scotland’s leading disability-led theatre company, producing world-class productions and projects that place disabled artists centre stage. While at BOP Michelle has produced award-winning productions & delivered training on Disability Equality and Creative Access within a UK & international setting. She is also a freelance consultant & producer, specialising in accessible productions. Michelle is an active committee member for Stage Sight, the sector support organisation working to diversify off stage roles. Her career is focused on increasing access for audience members and arts professionals alike.
Samir Bhamra is Founder and Artistic Director of Phizzical Productions, a theatre and dance producing company specializing in narratives associated with the diversity of South Asian cultures, ethnicities and heritage. He is also Creative Director of UK Asian Film Festival, organized by Tongues on Fire Ltd, a 23-year-old touring film festival that takes place annually presenting premieres of feature films, short films and digital commissions and masterclasses with global A-list South Asian film talent. Samir is currently Senior Producer at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, delivering the theatre’s UK City of Culture programme culminating in May 2022.