Tony Graham the artistic director and chief executive of the Unicorn Theatre, who has led the young people's theatre for 13 years, has announced he will step down in 2011 to pursue an independent directing career.

Graham's work for children and young people includes his current production of Beauty and the Beast, as well as productions of The Tempest, Red Red Shoes, Adrian Mitchell's Jemima Puddle-Duck and her Friends and Clockwork, an opera based on Philip Pullman‟s novella.

His 2003 production of Phillippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden, which was adapted for the stage by acclaimed children's dramatist David Wood won the 2003 TMA Award for Best Show for Children and Young People. Graham's own adaptation and direction of Michael Morpurgo's Billy the Kid won Time Out's Family Show of the Year in 2007 and will be revived by the Unicorn next autumn as Graham's final production as artistic director.

During his time at the Unicorn Graham has programmed extensive work from visiting UK and global companies including Edinburgh's Catherine Wheels, Welsh company Theatr Iolo, Unga Klara of Sweden, Danish company Gruppe 38, Kaze- no-ko of Japan and Dutch theatre company Speelteater. Under Graham's stewardship the company have also launched a unique MA in Theatre for Young Audiences in partnership with Rose Bruford College.

Speaking in a press statement about his departure Tony Graham said: "The actors and staff at the Unicorn are just first rate. We have a strong company recognised by all who work at and visit the theatre."

The Unicorn moved into its current building, a £14.6m purpose-built home on London's Bankside in December 2005, making the company's long-held dreams for such a base a reality. The building has since welcomed over 300,000 theatregoers to performances as well as offering schools projects and youth theatre workshops.