Purni Morell
Purni Morell
© Giulia Savorelli

Purni Morell has announced that she will step down as artistic director of the Unicorn Theatre next year, after six and a half years at the helm of the children's theatre.

Appointed in September 2011, she became the first woman of colour to take the top job at any of the Arts Council's top funded UK venues. Throughout her time at the Tooley Street venue, she has been a champion of theatre for young people that is as artistically challenging as that of mainstream theatre. Her commissions include work from the likes of Timberlake Wertenbaker, Tim Crouch and Ontroerend Goed.

On her announcement, Morell said: "I am incredibly proud to have been a part of this extraordinary theatre and of what we have been able to do here - it has been rewarding, exciting and challenging in equal measure.

"It's so easy to sell the next generation short and it's so important not to – so I'm enormously excited to see where the next artistic director will take the theatre and to enjoy many more years of watching great shows, this time as a ticket-buyer."

By the time she leaves in April 2018, Morell – along with executive director Anneliese Davidsen will have produced and presented 140 productions, reached audiences of over 400,000, built box office income by 26%, grown audiences by 28%, and generated 21 awards and award nominations.

The Unicorn Theatre has Arts Council funding confirmed until 2022, and have begun their search for Morell's successor.