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Royal Exchange Theatre appoints Stephen Freeman as executive director

Stephen Freeman Stephen Freeman, who has been appointed executive director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester
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Stephen Freeman has been appointed executive director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

He replaces Mark Dobson, who left the role in June, blaming differences within the leadership team for the departure.

Freeman joins the Royal Exchange from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where he has held the post of chief executive since 2016.

Prior to this, Freeman was an Arts Council England relationship manager for the North West, meaning he has “an intrinsic understanding of the [Royal Exchange’s] creative development and its artistic journey”, the theatre said.

Freeman said of his appointment: “The Royal Exchange is creating energising and deeply engaging work with brilliantly diverse artists and is at the forefront of changing the way theatre buildings work with their audiences.

“Making great, relevant art and understanding audiences are the central pillars of any producing theatre, and I find the way that the Exchange is interrogating and progressing this very exciting.”

Freeman joins the Royal Exchange in January 2019, working alongside artistic director Sarah Frankcom, who described him as “an innovative, creative thinker”.