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Exclusive: Sally Greene to lose chief executive title at Old Vic in board overhaul

The Old Vic theatre in London
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London’s Old Vic theatre has proposed a series of changes to its governance structure that would see Sally Greene lose her chief executive title and director Stephen Daldry leave the board.

The theatre’s governance arrangements have remained largely unchanged for the past 20 years and came under scrutiny last year in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against former artistic director Kevin Spacey.

Under the modernisation plans – which also follow last year’s redrawing of the Charity Commission’s governance code – all newly appointed trustees would serve a maximum of nine years. However, this would not apply to existing board members.

Daldry has stepped down from his position as a trustee of the organisation, which he took up in 1998.

As part of the plans, Greene, who remains a trustee and has held the honorary title of chief executive since she set up a charitable trust to run the theatre in 1998, would be known as ‘founding trustee’. It is understood her responsibilities would not change in this role. The position of chief executive would be retired completely.

In a statement, Greene said: “As part of the governance review, my fellow trustees and I propose to change my title to one that more appropriately reflects the role I play within the Old Vic”. However, unlike other trustees, she would be eligible to remain on the board for life and would not be subject to the nine-year maximum term.

She said she had been proud to hold the title of chief executive since she led the bid to revive the theatre 20years ago, adding: “I look forward to continuing my work with the theatre to ensure that the Old Vic remains at the forefront of Britain’s world leading theatre community.”

While this maximum term would only apply to future trustees, the current roster of 12 board members would each leave at various points over the next nine years.

The theatre said this had been agreed “in order to ensure that the management and board retains the benefit of experience whilst regularly looking for opportunities to bring in new skills”.

Several trustees have been in post since before Spacey’s appointment in 2004. These include Greene, Robert Bourne, Alan Banes and Joyce Hytner. At the time of his appointment, Spacey was also a board member.

The Old Vic will continue to be led by artistic director Matthew Warchus and executive director Kate Varah, with Nick Clarry as chairman.

The changes mean the theatre’s governance would align more closely with the Charity Commission’s updated code from July 2017. Charities are not required to implement the recommendations included in the guide but are encouraged to do so.

Speaking about the changes, Clarry said: “Over the past eight months since the governance code was published, the Old Vic board has been working to modernise its governance arrangements, which have remained largely unchanged for the past 20 years.

“As this iconic theatre approaches its 200th birthday in May of this year, the board and senior team are working together to realise the vision for the Old Vic as a sustainable, artistic powerhouse and indispensable part of the nation’s theatre.”

The changes to the Old Vic’s governance arrangements are still proposals, subject to approval from the Charity Commission.

Spacey is currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for three counts of sexual assault, and an investigation carried out by the Old Vic last year unearthed 20 accusations of inappropriate behaviour by Spacey during his 11-year tenure at the theatre.

Kevin Spacey investigation: Claim emerges that Old Vic did receive complaint of inappropriate behaviour during his tenure

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