Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust (BHTT) have today (Wed 11 Aug) announced the resignation of Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Fiona Allan. Fiona will be leaving late Autumn to undertake the position of Chief Executive at Opera Australia.
Fiona joined Birmingham Hippodrome in 2015 and has overseen a significant period of development for the independent charity. During this time the organisation has doubled the number of people it reaches though live performance, education programmes, festivals and visual arts to over 1 million annually.
On leaving Birmingham Hippodrome, Fiona said: “I have loved being in Birmingham and am especially sad to be leaving on the eve of our Commonwealth Games year. During the time I’ve spent here I have enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life and have fallen in love with the city’s youthful energy.
“There is such incredible talent in Birmingham, and the arts and cultural scene is absolutely thriving. I am humbled to have played a part in helping support artists create new work here that is now touring the UK and the world.”
Fiona added: “The Hippodrome team and Board have been incredible in driving forward a change agenda that has seen us double our annual impact and become a much more inclusive organisation. We have made enormous strides forward in the past five years, pausing only for the challenges of the past year whilst our theatre itself has been closed to live performance.
“Despite these challenges we have still reached more than 850,000 people via art installations, the Van Gogh Alive experience, digital streaming events and our extensive work in schools and communities. I have no doubt that Birmingham Hippodrome will emerge from this period stronger, more energized and resilient than ever.”
Whilst in post as Artistic Director and CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome, Fiona Allan has served on a number of local and national boards. She currently chairs the West Midlands Regional Tourism Board, serves on both Midlands Arts and Midlands Engine Business Councils, and is a Director of the West Midlands Growth Company. Her broad contribution to the region was acknowledged with ‘Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year’ award in 2019 from the Chamber of Commerce.
Fiona is also a prominent figure with the arts industry, serving in post as President of national industry body, UK Theatre for the last five year and consistently appearing in The Stage top 100 most influential lists. In 2018 she was instrumental in launching the industry’s ‘10 Principles’ to support a safe and inclusive workplace, which contributed to her being awarded the UK Women of the Year inaugural ‘Woman with Edge’ award in 2018.
Chair of BHTT, Glenn Howells, said: “Fiona’s ambitions for Birmingham Hippodrome were clear from the outset; she was resolved to evolve Birmingham Hippodrome into a more diverse cultural organisation, building upon the heritage and successes so beautifully demonstrated in our 120th celebrations.
“Fiona’s triumphs in the role are too numerous to mention but particular stand out moments for me include the production of West Side Story with 40 talented young people from across the West Midlands in Summer 2019; the opening night of Color Purple in the same year, the stunning Van Gogh Alive exhibition that brought our building colourfully to life during the darkest days of the Covid crisis. Further to this, we have seen the board and leadership teams join together to push through an ambitious agenda for change in terms of inclusion, diversity and anti-racism under her guidance.”
Glenn concluded: “We are sad to see Fiona leave but are reassured that she leaves behind a strong and talented team of staff that will continue to progress and evolve her amazing legacy.”