Dawn Walton is to step down as artistic director and chief executive of Eclipse Theatre Company after 10 years.
Walton founded the black-led theatre company in 2010 and has helmed it ever since. She will leave later this year, after a decade in charge in order to develop and direct her own projects.
Walton said she “could not be more proud” of the Sheffield-based company’s accomplishments, and said: “No one can try and tell us now that new black work ‘hasn’t got an audience’.”
She added: “But having stood on the shoulders of black artistic pioneers of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it is now time for me to try and be the shoulders of the next black leader. I am excited for the future of Eclipse.
“Having channelled so much of my creative energy in the north of England and then across the country, I am now looking forward to exploring opportunities to innovate internationally.”
Among the most notable undertakings of her decade-long tenure include Revolution Mix, the touring project which launched in 2017 and is spearheading the largest ever delivery of black British productions in UK theatres including seven new touring productions, a series of new radio dramas, a film and a programme of events and participation work.
As part of this, Walton directed the 2018 production Black Men Walking, Eclipse’s largest tour to date.
A statement from Eclipse’s board described Walton as a visionary and credited her with taking what was originally an initiative and turning it into “one of the most valuable, vibrant and radical theatre companies in the UK”.
“Her dedication to supporting black British artists has had an unquestionable impact on the ecology of British theatre. She has made visible and long-lasting change, empowering writers, directors and theatremakers to make work at scale in theatres across the country.
“Programmes such as Revolution Mix and Slate: Black. Arts. World have had a major impact, creating a UK-wide network for new black British artists to have a voice,” they said.