New joint chief executives of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre named
Claire Walker and Hannah Essex will lead the companies in a job share partnership
The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre have officially announced the companies' new joint chief executives, taking over from Julian Bird, who stepped down from the role last month.
In a first for SOLT, Claire Walker and Hannah Essex will share the role, marking the pair's third partnership in high-profile positions. Currently serving as co-executive directors at the British Chambers of Commerce, Walker and Essex previously worked together as co-directors of Communications for Teach First.
They issued the following joint statement: "It is a huge privilege to be appointed as co-CEOs of SOLT and UK Theatre. As lifelong theatre fans, we believe passionately that a thriving theatre sector is crucial to improving social, cultural and economic prosperity in the UK. Having supported businesses large and small through the Brexit process and the pandemic, we are familiar with many of the issues facing SOLT and UK Theatre members in these challenging economic times."
"SOLT and UK Theatre do fantastic work to support, promote and develop British theatre," they continued. "We are looking forward to getting started in September and working with our brilliant team, members and stakeholders to create the conditions for the theatre industry to thrive."
Eleanor Lloyd, president of SOLT, added: "I am delighted to welcome Claire and Hannah as the co-CEOs of SOLT and UK Theatre. They are inspirational leaders who will bring an outstanding combination of experience, dynamism and passion to both organisations. Their work at the British Chambers of Commerce, especially during the pandemic, puts them in a perfect position to support our members and champion the theatre industry in this new chapter."
Walker and Essex are set to begin their new joint venture on 12 September 2022.