Shakespeare North names chief executive

Melanie Lewis has been appointed as the first permanent boss of the £27m Prescot theatre ahead of its opening in 2022.

Lewis, who will start in the role in August, is currently an executive director with National Museums Liverpool, where she leads on commercial enterprises, visitor experience, strategy and planning.

She has been with NML since 2012, joining the leadership team two years later.

Max Steinberg, chair of operating body The Shakespeare North Trust, said: “The Shakespeare North Playhouse is a truly remarkable and special project and, as such, requires a very talented, committed, and driven individual to lead the team.

“We are confident that Melanie’s commercial experience, expertise and genuine passion for arts and culture will provide the ideal combination of skills and we are delighted that she has chosen to join The Playhouse at such an incredibly exciting time.”

The building, currently being built by Kier Construction, will be home to a 350-seat timber framed theatre, digital gallery, additional studio space and an outdoor performance garden. It has been designed by Helm Architecture.

The Shakespeare North Playhouse will open to the public in the summer of 2022. Alongside Shakespearean drama, the Playhouse will host a range of arts programming.

Shakespeare North

Kier is the main contractor for the £27m Playhouse

Projects Lewis has been instrumental in include securing the Terracotta Warriors exhibition in 2018. Prior to her work at NML she held senior roles with Everton and Blackburn Rovers:

She said: “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to lead the regions newest and most exciting cultural attraction. To be involved with such a groundbreaking project at such a crucial time is incredible.”

Shakespeare North’s development has been funded through significant capital investment from Knowsley Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and HM Treasury, with Knowsley’s £12m the largest single source.

Most recently the playhouse was awarded £3m from Government’s Culture Recovery Fund managed by Arts Council England.

In addition, more than £1m has been raised through private donations including a significant contribution from the Sir Ken Dodd Charitable Foundation Trust.

Lewis is to work with creative director Laura Collier in building the audience experience in the first year. Steinberg paid tribute to Ian Tabbron, who has been acting as interim chief executive.

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