Kwei-Armah quits Young Vic with arts funding side-swipe

Kwasi Kwei-Amah is to leave his job as artistic director of the Young Vic, with an attack on the standstill in arts subsidy and calling for government intervention.

Taking on the job six years ago, Kwei-Armah produced 40 productions, including 30 in the main house, where more than half the writers and directors were women. It has gone from 11% of staff being BEM to 44%. He leaves in the autumn.

But in that time the Young Vic has faced serious financial challenges with its most recent annual report announcing that it had to draw deeper on reserves to meet cash flow needs.

Announcing his final season, he said: “The three pillars that have guided my tenure have been innovation, access and community, and I’m proud of all that we have achieved. But it is a bittersweet moment.

“The painful reality is I am leaving a subsidised sector where 13 years of standstill funding is taking its toll. For decades, the theatre industry has fuelled the UK’s world-renowned creative industries, providing vital pathways for artists to flourish, going from subsidised theatre into the West End, and into TV and film. But without investment we could lose this pipeline of talent within a generation. I’m hopeful that this can and must change, but it needs sincere government intervention.”

Glenn Earle, chair of the Young Vic board, said: “It has been one of the great pleasures of my professional life to work closely with the phenomenon that is Kwame Kwei-Armah. Kwame is an exceptional artist and inspirational leader. He has brought his energy, creativity, artistic brilliance, generosity of spirit and sense of social responsibility to the role of artistic director of the Young Vic over the last six years. Leading and inspiring an incredible team, he has built on the extraordinary achievements of those artistic directors who have come before him to make the Young Vic the groundbreaking, representative and world-leading theatre it is today."

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