Barrie Rutter to step down as Halifax-based Northern Broadsides artistic director

Barrie Rutter, at Northern Broadsides' Dean Clough, Halifax, headquarters this spring. Picture by Simon Hulme
Barrie Rutter, at Northern Broadsides' Dean Clough, Halifax, headquarters this spring. Picture by Simon Hulme

Northern Broadsides today announced that their founder and artistic director Barrie Rutter OBE will step down in April 2018 after leading the company for 25 years.

Rutter founded Northern Broadsides, based at Dean Clough, Halifax, in 1992 and under his artistic leadership the company have become one of the UK’s leading touring theatre companies and produced over 70 productions.

Barrie explained he had decided to leave after Northern Broadsides failed to secure an increase in Arts Council funding, feeling the time was right and able to leave the company in good hands.

He said: “Having failed to lead the team in securing a long overdue increase in Arts Council funding, I have decided that after 25 wonderful years it is the right time for me to stand down. I leave the supporters of Northern Broadsides in the hands of a robust and creative staff.”

Over the last 25 years Rutter has overseen many of Northern Broadsides’ big successes including casting Lenny Henry in Othello and Mat Fraser in Broadsides’ most recent production Richard III as part of Hull 2017, as well as the acclaimed productions of The Wars of the Roses, Rutherford & Son (directed by Jonathan Miller) and the award-winning An August Bank Holiday Lark.

In 2015 Barrie was awarded the OBE for Services to Drama.

Rutter’s final productions for Northern Broadsides will be the forthcoming world premiere of For Love or Money, Blake Morrison’s new adaptation of Alain Rene Lesage’s French comedy Turcaret which will open at the Viaduct Theatre at Dean Clough, Halifax, in September and then tour until December 2017.

In January 2018, he will direct the Shakespeare’s Globe and Northern Broadsides co-production of The Captive Queen at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

A spokesperson for the Board said: “The company recognises the significant contribution Barrie Rutter has made to theatre, the arts in general and the lives of his colleagues over the years.

“In establishing Northern Broadsides 25 years ago, he created a vibrant and visionary organisation that is committed to ensuring that his legacy survives into the future.

“The Board of Northern Broadsides are delighted to be continuing as an Arts Council England NPO organisation and are looking forward to working with an extremely talented creative team over the coming years. Barrie Rutter will be missed both on and off the Broadsides stage, but we wish him well in his next adventures.’

Northern Broadsides was established as a unique theatre company with a true northern voice.

Its work is characterised by a high degree of theatrical inventiveness and robust performances from a large ensemble cast of multi-talented and charismatic northern actors who all perform in their natural voices.

For the past 25 years, it has delighted audiences here and abroad with a growing classic repertoire that has won the company many awards and a loyal following worldwide.

On the announcement of Barrie’s decision to step down from his artistic leadership of Northern Broadsides, the Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift, said he wished to thank him for his “magnificent” contribution to the cultural life of Calderdale.

Coun Swift said: “Since establishing the company and becoming a resident at Dean Clough, Barrie has provided fantastic opportunities for audiences to experience theatre in a unique setting. He has created a remarkable form of theatre which plays to packed audiences at the Viaduct Theatre, and has put theatre produced in Yorkshire on the national and international map.”