Dukes loses artistic director post in shake-up

The Dukes in Lancaster is losing its artistic director, Sarah Punshon, as a result of cuts in its local authority funding.

Punshon, who has been with the Lancaster arts venue for just two years, will leave following a decision to combine her post with that of chief executive.

The Dukes chair John Chell says that “a new business model” is needed to address the recent loss of funding from Lancashire County Council, which has gone from £156,000 per year in 2015/16 to zero this year.

The theatre says Sarah Punshon will pursue other opportunities but will return to the Dukes as freelance director of its 2019 Christmas Show Cinderella: A Fairytale. A new post of director will be advertised shortly, but in the meantime, chief executive Victoria Firth will take over the reins as interim director.

“During her time with us Sarah has overseen a 20% increase in audiences for our live programme at The Dukes," said Chell, “and her first park show,The Three Musketeers, was shortlisted for Best Show for Children & Young People at the UK Theatre Awards.”

Punshon said: “It’s been an enormous privilege to work with the brilliant team at The Dukes. I’m so proud of the fantastic work we’ve created together on stage, in Williamson Park, and with young people and communities across Lancashire. I look forward to being back at The Dukes this Christmas for Cinderella."



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