Barrie Rutter has shocked Yorkshire’s arts world by announcing he is stepping down as artistic director of Northern Broadsides. And as he left he took a swipe at Arts Council England for failing to give the company the increased funding it had asked for.
Rutter founded Northern Broadsides, which has earned a reputation for staging Shakespeare in a northern voice in 1992 and under his artistic leadership the company has become one of the UK’s leading touring theatre companies and produced more than 70 productions. However, he has long complained that Arts Council England has failed to properly recognise the company’s needs and decided to leave following the latest round of funding which was announced earlier this month.
Over the last 25years 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 in 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.
On leaving his post, Rutter 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.”
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.”