Julian Bird, the current chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and U.K. Theatre, has announced he will step down from the position, effective May 2022.
“It had always been my intention to think about moving on around the 10th anniversary of my time in the role, which would have been in November 2020. As with so much, the pandemic intervened in that. However by May 2022 I will have been CEO for over 11 and a half years, and then feels the right time to depart. Before then we have much to accomplish, not least whatever the pandemic throws at our industry this winter, the completion of a comprehensive economic impact study for the theatre industry, and producing the Olivier Awards for the 11th time," Bird said in a statement.
Bird has spent the last year and a half navigating the pandemic's affect and the recovery of the theatre industry in the U.K. Like Broadway, the West End shuttered all productions in March of 2020, but attempted an earlier return in the fall of 2020, only to be shutdown by the government again in December of 2020. In July of 2020, the U.K. government announced a £1.57 billion (approximately $1.96 billion) rescue package to be distributed as emergency grants and loans to help keep the industry afloat during its on-again-off-again shutdown. Productions returned in full to the West End during the summer of 2021, with rules set in place to cancel performances for individual shows amid COVID-19 outbreaks.