Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre has announced that its chief executive Julian Bird is to step down from his role. 

Bird will leave in May next year, with SOLT and UK Theatre seeking out a new appointee with the help of a global executive search and leadership advisor. 

On his decision, Bird said: “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 that 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.”

He added: “There will be time to reflect on the past years in due course, but I would like now to express my enormous gratitude to both boards, and the extraordinary team of staff that I have the privilege to lead.” 

President of SOLT Eleanor Lloyd said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire membership of SOLT, I would like to thank Julian Bird for an incredible tenure as our chief executive. He has transformed all areas of the organisation over the last 10 years and has led us with commitment, care and calm not least through what has undoubtedly been the most challenging period in the history of the theatre industry. We will miss him hugely and wish him very well for the future.”

Stephanie Sirr, president of UK Theatre, added: “Julian has been an extraordinary chief executive – UK Theatre has gone through enormous and very valuable change but above all his tenacity, strategic thinking and drive have been tested during this pandemic. The industry is in a much better place than it would otherwise have been thanks to his incredible work and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”