The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has announced that Colin Blumenau will leave his role as Artistic Director at the Suffolk venue at the end of July.
Blumenau joined the theatre in 1996 and led the theatre’s major project to restore the venue to its original Georgian glory in 2007. He has also directed or written many of the theatre’s in-house productions, including directing the venue’s current production of Stagefright. He has been instrumental in the venue’s championing of rediscovering the lost Georgian repertoire and was awarded the Theatrical Management Association’s (TMA) Manager of the Year award in 2009.
In announcing his departure Blumenau comments: “I’ve had a fantastic 15 years here. There have been so many highs but now it is time to move on. In the last year I’ve had the privileged opportunity to have had time to hand over the Chief Executive part of my role to Simon and to work closely with him to plan the next stage of the Theatre Royal’s development. However, every creative enterprise needs constant rejuvenation, and it is now time to hand over the creative baton to someone else whilst I look forward to developing my own writing and directing.”
Blumenau won’t cut off ties with the venue entirely and will direct a production of Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park in the autumn as well as writing the venue’s popular pantomime.
“For me, working at the Theatre Royal has been a truly life-defining experience. I will leave with some brilliant memories as well as vastly expanded knowledge and experience. I also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all who have worked with me – staff, Board, stakeholders and audiences – to make the Theatre Royal an exceptional and uniquely valuable part of the town, the region, and the nation’s theatrical landscape.”
Simon Daykin, Chief Executive responded “Colin has done a truly extraordinary job. Under his artistic leadership the Theatre has grown enormously in stature and reputation. His commitment to bring quality to the stage, and to Bury St Edmunds, is deeply embedded in the organisation, giving us rock-solid foundations upon which to build. Our future work will continue to amaze and delight. Colin’s achievements to make this possible have been immense.”
The venue is the only surviving working Regency playhouse in the UK and one of only nine Grade 1 listed theatres in the country. Owned by the Greene King brewery, the theatre is now leased to the National Trust and is the only working theatre in the organisations portfolio.
The theatre received a £7,000 a year reduction in its Arts Council funding from 2012 and had recently announced the cancellation of a planned fundraising Lands End to John O’Groats horse ride by Blumenau, citing the failure to raise enough sponsorship for the event. In 2011 Blumenau handed the responsibility for Chief Executive duties to Simon Daykin, concentrating on the artistic management of the playhouse.