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Newbury's Watermill theatre appoints new executive director

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THE Watermill has appointed Claire Murray to the new role of executive director.

On the eve of its reopening for another outdoor summer season, artistic director Paul Hart and the team at the Bagnor theatre have welcomed the recently created appointment of Claire, who has 25 years’ experience in the cultural sector.

She will support and work closely alongside Paul Hart, who remains artistic director/CEO, as well as the board of trustees, to deliver the strategic aims and objectives of the theatre, helping to create a high-quality, balanced artistic programme, delivered by world-class creative teams and casts, and leading the operational teams to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.

Claire Murray
Claire Murray

Having been communications and fundraising director at Sheffield Theatres for the last 11 years, where she also acted as interim chief executive in 2018, Claire been key in developing and growing audiences and securing the artistic and financial success of the four-time winner of Regional Theatre of the Year.

She previously held roles at Royal & Derngate in Northampton and De Montfort Hall in Leicester, as well as working as a consultant and project manager with organisations including Theatre Royal Plymouth, Nottingham Playhouse and Wycombe Swan. Until recently she was also a trustee of UK Theatre.

Claire said she was “over the moon to be joining Paul Hart and the team at The Watermill as executive director. The company is renowned for its artistic brilliance, and its engagement and participation programme makes a vital difference to thousands of people every year. The Watermill consistently punches above its weight; this beautiful, compact theatre has a mighty impact. At a time when its contribution to a thriving cultural sector and to the health and wellbeing of its communities is more important than ever, I’m excited to be appointed to this new position to build on The Watermill’s success for future generations.”

Paul Hart said that Claire’s experience and passion was going to be invaluable as the theatre continues to develop. “Despite the difficulties of the last year, it’s a hugely exciting time for us with our summer season opening at the end of this week and shows launching in the West End and on tour so I’m thrilled for Claire to be joining the team at this time.”

Following the easing of restrictions this week, The Watermill will reopen on Friday for the first time since December, with its outdoor Summer Season of productions taking place in the idyllic riverside gardens.

Two Watermill co-productions are to return to the stage soon, the critically acclaimed Amélie The Musical opens at the West End’s Criterion Theatre on Thursday and Jodie Prenger reprises her role in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s Tell Me On A Sunday, opening 15 June in Malvern prior to a UK tour.

To help The Watermill rebuild its artistic programme and resume its important outreach and education activities on-site, the theatre has launched ACT 2 - a new fundraising appeal, with match funding available until 20 May. The ACT 2 appeal invites supporters to help The Watermill Celebrate Theatre, Inspire Creativity and Connect Communities. For further information visit watermill.org.uk/ACT2

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