Birmingham Hippodrome chief executive Fiona Allan has been named new president of industry body UK Theatre.
She replaces Rachel Tackley, recently named executive director of Chichester Festival Theatre.
Allan, former chief executive of Curve in Leicester, said the industry was facing “challenging times” but said she was looking forward to working with UK Theatre chief executive Julian Bird and head Cassie Chadderton on providing “the tools, advice and advocacy our membership needs to adapt and thrive”.
“The world around us seems to be getting trickier and the theatre sector needs some strong leadership and advocacy to cut through the difficulty we are in,” she told The Stage.
She added: “I think the organisation to do that is UK Theatre and we are going to have to ramp up our efforts and make sure we are updating all the time, and modernising and giving the sort of advice the industry needs. It’s such shifting sands at the moment, the industry is changing all the time.”
She highlighted challenges in the industry, such as the decline in public funding, and in particular cuts to local authorities. Allan also spoke about issues around training, and who would become the next leaders.
She said: “We are much more aware now that the arts leadership is white middle class, and that is not reflective of the nation we are in. You have to question: if that is the arts leadership, then what audiences are we appealing to, and how are we representing the society we are living in?”
Bird praised Tackley for “her tireless work and campaigning on behalf of UK Theatre”, but said the industry would have a “great champion” in Allan.
Allan’s voluntary position was announced at UK Theatre’s AGM on June 22. Theatre by the Lake joint artistic director Conrad Lynch and New Wolsey Theatre chief executive Sarah Holmes were elected to the board.
Anna Williams, finance director at Birmingham Royal Ballet, was re-elected as vice president.