Home Editor's pick The Shakespeare North Playhouse unveils its Chief Executive

The Shakespeare North Playhouse unveils its Chief Executive

by Guy Murphy

The Shakespeare North Trust has announced the appointment of Melanie Lewis as Chief Executive of The Shakespeare North Playhouse.

Melanie, who is currently an Executive Director with National Museums Liverpool (NML), will be the first permanent Chief Executive of this flagship cultural venue, which will open to the public next year.

As anticipation builds for completion and opening of The Playhouse, this is a significant appointment and one which will be crucial to the venue’s long-term success.

Max Steinberg CBE, Chair of The Shakespeare North Trust, the Operators of The Playhouse commented:

“We are absolutely delighted to have secured Melanie as our Chief Executive. The Shakespeare North Playhouse is a truly remarkable and special project and, as such, requires a very talented, committed, and driven individual to lead the team.

“We are confident that Melanie’s commercial experience, expertise and genuine passion for arts and culture will provide the ideal combination of skills and we are delighted that she has chosen to join The Playhouse at such an incredibly exciting time.

“I very much look forward to working with Melanie in the coming months as we finalise our plans for opening which includes an exciting programme of performances.”

Melanie has been with National Museums Liverpool for nine years, with seven years as an Executive Director on the Leadership Team. During that time, she has been responsible for all commercial outputs, visitor experience, and strategy and planning. She has taken a lead role in transformational change projects and been instrumental in major initiatives including securing the Terracotta Warriors exhibition in 2018. Prior to her work at National Museums Liverpool she also held senior roles with Everton and Blackburn Rovers with a keen focus on creating excellent visitor experiences. Melanie commented:

“I am extremely excited to be taking up this new role. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the regions newest and most exciting cultural attraction. To be involved with such a ground-breaking project at such a crucial time is incredible.

“Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work in iconic venues and on a wide array of projects and initiatives. My passion lies with shaping and enriching the whole visitor experience and bringing lifelong learning to the people we serve, be that in our local community, our city, from across the UK and around the world.  This is something I am keen to continue at The Playhouse.”

The Shakespeare North Playhouse will open to the public in the summer of 2022. Alongside innovative, high-profile Shakespearean drama, the Playhouse will host a wide-ranging programme of performances and cultural activity that spans arts forms and appeals to a broad range of audiences.

The iconic building, currently under construction, will be home to an extraordinary timber framed theatre, modelled on the Inigo Jones cockpit-in-court masterpiece of the 17th Century.  It will also boast an inclusive education programme, digital gallery and additional studio space and an outdoor performance garden.

The project has been funded through significant capital investment from Knowsley Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and HM Treasury. Most recently The Playhouse was awarded £3m from Government’s Culture Recovery Fund managed by Arts Council England. In addition, more than £1 million has been raised through private donations including a significant contribution from the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation Trust.  Without the continued support of the funders and donors this project would not be possible.

The Chair of The Shakespeare North Trust, Max Steinberg CBE added:

“In the coming months Melanie will be working with us to find out more about the project and meet the people who are working to make this vision a reality. In particular she will be linking in closely with our Creative Director, Laura Collier in building the audience experience in the first year.  She will be supported by myself and my fellow Trustees, Knowsley Council and also Ian Tabbron who has been acting as Interim Chief Executive and will continue to provide invaluable support and guidance – for which we are extremely grateful.”

Melanie will take up her new role in August 2021.