The Bush Theatre has announced that its artistic director and chief executive Madani Younis is leaving after six years.
He will depart the west London theatre in January 2019 to take on the role of creative director of the Southbank Centre.
Associate director Omar Elerian will also step down after his production of Going Through in spring 2019.
Madani became artistic director of the Bush Theatre in 2012 and has led a significant period of growth enabled by his vision of cultural diversity and the successful redevelopment of the theatre’s home.
His tenure has pushed the boundaries of the company’s physical space, tripled the audience capacity of the Bush and welcomed a greater diversity of both creative talent and audiences than ever before.
Madani said: “My time at the Bush Theatre is undoubtedly one of my proudest achievements to date. The Bush invested in a vision that celebrated not just the best of theatre but the best of our country’s inherent culture. The result was a more reflective community of artists and a breadth of new audiences that represent the diversity of the city around us.”
He leaves the organisation after a critically acclaimed season that exceeded the theatre’s audience and box office records. It included a revival of Winsome Pinnock’s Leave Taking, Monica Dolan’s Olivier Award-nominated The B*easts and Arinzé Kene’s critical and popular hit Misty which has transferred to Trafalgar Studios from 8 September, 2018.
Madani oversaw a period where the organisation enjoyed international reach. Highlights include: Cush Jumbo’s Josephine and I, staged by the Public Theater, New York; The Herd by Rory Kinnear, which played at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago; and Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced which enjoyed a run at the Lyceum Theater, New York. The Bush’s 2017 production of Nassim is currently touring internationally.
Last year, Madani was appointed to the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board to advise Sadiq Khan on the issues facing the creative industries and cultural sector and to help craft a bold new culture strategy for London.
In 2016 he led phase two of the company’s £4.3m capital redevelopment project – the largest in the organisation’s history. The building now comprises a flexible 190-seat theatre, a second performance space, a rehearsal studio, a Café Bar, a newly developed terrace garden and a playtext library.
The expansion of the theatre has enabled an expansion in the Bush’s community and talent development work. Ticket prices have also remained accessible thanks to the £10 “Count Me In” ticket scheme and the theatre consistently welcomes 50% of audiences to the venue for the first time.
In Arts Council England’s last funding round, it was announced that the Bush would be one of a handful of London-based organisations to receive an increase in annual funding for 2018-2022 – an endorsement of a vision that spoke boldly about the many communities of contemporary London.
Madani’s final play as director for the Bush is An Adventure by Vinay Patel which runs from 6 September to 20 October.
The theatre’s executive director, Lauren Clancy, said: “I’m thrilled that Madani has such an exciting next step in his career as creative director of the Southbank Centre. He leaves an impressive and inspirational legacy that has shaped the Bush Theatre and those individuals that have been lucky enough to work alongside him.
“I look forward to building on the Bush’s success as we write our next chapter.”
Recruitment for Madani’s successor starts today and for an associate director in the new year. Information on both roles will be posted on the jobs page on the Bush Theatre’s website.
Simon Johnson, chair of the theatre’s board, said: “I am immeasurably proud of Madani and what the Bush Theatre has achieved under his leadership. Madani built on our longstanding value of promoting the highest quality of new writing to create a bigger vision where the Bush Theatre has become one of the loudest voices nationally in championing diversity and reflecting London today.”
Joyce Wilson, London area director for Arts Council England, added: “Madani has built up a strong reputation for innovation and experimentation at the Bush, and he will be missed. However, his appointment to the role of creative director at Southbank is good news, and we have no doubt that he will bring the same energy and vision to his new role.”
Madani was previously artistic director of Freedom Studios in Bradford and has also worked internationally as a theatre director. Announcing his latest move, he praised the whole team at the Bush. “None of what we’ve achieved would have happened without the deep, thoughtful commitment of so many. I want to thank the board, the staff team, our generous supporters and stakeholders who all invested in that vision and allowed us to create a depth of experience both on and off stage. I’ll forever be in their debt.
“I’m also thrilled to have had the opportunity to have worked with executive director Lauren Clancy, someone whose values and vision has shaped and informed the vision of the Bush. In Lauren, we have an exec that will be a significant force in British theatre for another generation.”