CFT boss heads down under for new job

Outgoing Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director Jonathan Church has been appointed artistic director of Sydney Theatre Company.

Jonathan Church SUS-150825-091306003
Jonathan Church SUS-150825-091306003

Jonathan will take up his Australian duties straightaway, starting work immediately on programming STC’s 2017 season.

Until September 2016, he will work in both Sydney and the UK as he delivers his final Festival season in Chichester next summer.

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Jonathan has been artistic director at the CFT since 2006 and is credited with completely transforming the institution. During the past decade at Chichester, Jonathan has more than doubled the venue’s audience base and produced a diverse programme of more than 100 shows including 22 new plays with nearly 50 West End and/or Broadway transfers.

David Gonski, chairman of Sydney Theatre Company, said: “I am very excited to announce Jonathan Church as our next artistic leader. After a comprehensive international search, the board was presented with a very accomplished shortlist of Australian and overseas candidates.

“We are extremely confident that Jonathan Church’s tremendous breadth of experience across the course of his career is a brilliant fit for STC. Jonathan is both an acclaimed theatre director in his own right, and also an artistic director with an extremely impressive track record in establishing positive relationships with a broad range of top theatre artists. He has also demonstrated in his leadership of a number of organisations the capacity to build audiences through programming.

Jonathan said: “I have watched from afar STC’s growth over the past 30 years and the company has become a beacon of artistic adventure and international excellence.

“Recently I have also been fortunate enough to begin to work first hand with some of Australia’s best theatre practitioners and I have a strong sense of the extraordinary talent that exists and the deep sense of commitment to the theatre and the arts in general that a wide range of companies have fostered in Australia.

“I am therefore immensely excited to be coming to STC’s home at the Wharf and along with its dedicated staff work with the best existing and emerging Australian talent to continue to serve Sydney audiences with the most vibrant, excellent and entertaining theatre possible.”

STC was formed in 1978. It originally created work for the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House (540 seats), where it remains a designated resident company. In January 1985, its headquarters at The Wharf in Walsh Bay was opened containing two theatres (320 and 200 seats), rehearsal rooms, production and wardrobe workshops, offices and restaurant.

And in 2004, the Roslyn Packer Theatre (formerly Sydney Theatre) was opened in Walsh Bay, adding a theatre of 880 seats. The budget of the company is approximately $35M per annum, making it one of the Australia’s largest performing arts organisations and one of the world’s largest non-profit producing theatre companies.

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