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Chair Northern Stage

At the heart of Newcastle, Northern Stage has made the very best theatre for the North East and beyond for 53 years. By harnessing the transformative power of theatre, they teach, impact, and shape their community. Seize the opportunity and become the Chair of Northern Stage as they embark on their next strategic phase.

  • Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Salary: Unremunerated, with reasonable expenses paid

Who we are

Proudly Northern, Northern Stage is a place for people to come together to socialise, have fun, work, think, debate, perform and to imagine new possibilities for the future.

Northern Stage is the largest and best-funded producing theatre in the North East of England. From its home in the heart of Newcastle, Northern Stage is part of a diverse community stretching from Tweed to Tyne and Tees.

Northern Stage’s work is informed and transformed by the region. Making vital pieces of culture for the North East of today and tomorrow, it produces co-produces and supports the production of great theatre for regional, national and international audiences, in both live and digital forms. Northern Stage also tours, its work is popular, accessible, politically relevant and culturally diverse.

Northern Stage provides life-changing experiences for people who would not normally have access to such opportunities. Promoting creativity and creative practice, Northern Stage’s aim is to promote the next generation of the North East’s performers, technicians and creatives irrespective of their background.

Activities take place across versatile stages and inclusive performance venues; their vision to create a safe space for visitors and performers alike is realised by creating a culture based on tolerance, inclusivity and respect.

Northern Stage’s current performance programme is representative of its output. A curated mix of self-produced and presented work from visiting theatre companies. Each year, Northern Stage produces/co-produces four to six shows, including the annual Christmas production for over 5’s in the ‘epic space’ of Stage 1 & 2 combined.

Increasingly, Northern Stage also works in association with smaller and independent artists to put combined resources into the support of new work, enabling those artists to leverage additional funds, partners and profiles.

Northern Stage is a Company that is comfortable in working with partners at all scales, from independent theatre companies to large-scale commercial producers from across the UK. Representative of this is their record of artistically excellent productions and reputation for bold, visual shows which capture the imaginations of its audiences. Notable performances range from Red Ellen to The White Card and to the global success of The Last Ship. Alongside these productions, Northern Stage delivers a diverse programme of visiting work including ETT, Rifco, National Theatre of Scotland, Northern Ballet, Gecko and Theatre Ad Infinitum, MILK Presents & Deafinitely Theatre.

Performance space facts

  • Stage 1 has 447 seats.
  • Stage 2 has 172 seats.
  • Stage 3 has 100 seats or 70 seats cabaret style.
  • Stages 1 and 2 can combine to create our 600-seat in-the-round ‘epic space’.

Audience figures continue to grow at a healthy rate. Between 2015-2019, audiences grew by 35% from 60,000 to 80,000. In 2019, Northern Stage reached 150,000 people, 82,000 from their base in Newcastle, 68,000 through touring and a further 8,500 via participation and talent development.


Northern Stage believes that everyone is entitled to the transformative impact theatre can bring. To that end, learning, engagement and co-creation are central to their work. Currently, they are actively engaged in three significant initiatives:

  • Byker

This famous inner-city area of Newcastle is home to Northern Stage’s rehearsal studios at Raby Street. Their rehearsal presence in Byker has been a catalyst for a more embedded programme of activity in the local community.

  • Young Company

Young Company is Northern Stage’s flagship theatre-making programme for young people aged 16-21. They offer opportunities to create performances and experience the many creative and backstage roles involved in theatre making.

  • City of Dreams

This is an ambitious 10 year-mission helping to make Newcastle and Gateshead the best place to be young- developing new long-term activities which address social challenges faced by younger people.

Inclusivity and Relevance

A strong belief in inclusion, equality, tolerance and respect shapes the way that Northern Stage works – it’s non-negotiable.

Through all strands of activity, Northern Stage wants to make work that is popular, accessible, politically relevant and culturally diverse. Across their annual season, they seek to create a balanced programme that is innovative, inspirational and financially sustainable.

Northern Stage are committed to gender-balanced, inclusive and diverse casting and works proactively to ensure representation both on and off stage.


UK Theatre Workforce Award

In 2019, Northern Stage won the UK Theatre Workforce Award, recognising their targeted participation programmes that promote a commitment to professional development and the opening of entry routes to off-stage roles, particularly for young people under-represented in the arts.

Finance and Funding

Northern Stage is proud to be an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. In addition, it receives financial support from the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund, and from many other trusts and foundations including Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and Backstage Trust. Newcastle University is a valued strategic partner, and together they are exploring new ways to work together for the benefit of shared civic agendas. Also, Northern Stage has an active group of corporate partners and the support of many valued individual donors.

About the role

The Chair

The Chair of Northern Stage provides leadership to the Board and Executive Team, harnessing and directing the Trustees’ efforts in support of the theatre’s artistic, participation, engagement and commercial activities. Over the next four years, the focus of the Chair will be the implementation of the new strategic plan, the development of new strategic and commercial opportunities to bring sustainability and resilience to its operating model and championing the efforts to increase the diversity of their workforce, audiences and creative programmes.

The Board of Trustees

Northern Stage is a charity that is operated for the benefit of the people of Newcastle and the North East. The Trustees of Northern Stage ensure the company is run effectively and meets its charitable objectives. As a Board, the Trustees monitor finances, risks and compliance with legislation and ensure that reports and accounts are prepared for the Charity Commission.

The Board meets four times per year, and operates four subcommittees:

  • Finance Committee: meets four times a year to provide detailed scrutiny of the charity’s finances.
  • People Committee: meets twice a year to look at policies, procedures and employment matters.
  • Creative Committee: meets twice a year to provide creative support to the Artistic Director.
  • EDI Committee: meets twice a year to set strategy and monitor the progress of our EDI ambitions.

Representing the Organisation

The Chair acts as an advocate and proud ambassador to its audiences and stakeholders and is a spokesperson for the work the Executive wants to achieve too. In addition, the Chair represents the position of Northern Stage as sector leader, working with local authorities, creative networks and Arts Council England who will assist the transition between Chairs.

The operation of Northern Stage is the responsibility of the Joint Chief Executives: the Artistic Director (Natalie Ibu) is responsible for the overall artistic vision and the Executive Director (Kate Denby) is responsible for the strategic management of human, financial, administrative and physical resources. Together, they deliver an artistic programme of outstanding quality and strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organisation.

Term and time commitment

All board members, including the Chair, can serve up to two terms of four years.

We expect the time commitment to be around 1-2 days per month, including preparation and attendance at board and sub-committee meetings, informal contact with trustees, and regular contact with the joint-Chief Executives.

The Board meets for an annual strategic development day, usually in October/November. They also attend regular events at the theatre, including productions, events, fundraising initiatives and other advocacy opportunities.

Who we are looking for

With an enthusiasm for the performing arts and a commitment to be an advocate for the organisation, the next Chair will have a willingness to actively engage with the work of the organisation and the ability to work as a member of a team. They will work with the team to develop the strategies that underpin Northern Stage’s Business Plan and will hold the Artistic and Executive Directors and other Trustees accountable for delivering it. Acting as mentor and advisor to staff in their areas of personal expertise, they will also be well-versed in the distinction between non-executive and executive responsibility.

The Chair of Northern Stage must share its values, ensuring that the work of the Company consistently reflects the communities it serves. Positive and assertive in support of diversity and inclusion, they will strive to ensure the organisation is a place for everyone.

Able to interpret and respond to information shared regularly by the senior management team, they will be ready to hold the SMT accountable to ensure that Northern Stage’s operation operates effectively and that the senior management team have fit and proper processes in place.

A figurehead of the organisation, the next Chair will want to attend Northern Stage produced work, including participatory events. They will take an active and engaged interest in the annual programme of productions, performances and stakeholder functions and be a passionate representative of the work of the Company in these arenas.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham | jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Rebekah Abbott

View profile

Welcome from the Chair

Dear candidate,

I’ve spent just over 8 years as the Chair of Northern Stage – and performing that role in many ways has been a labour of love. It’s been a lot of work, of course, and has led to the occasional sleepless night, but what makes it worthwhile is the knowledge that as the largest producing theatre serving the North East of England, we have continually advanced our deep social purpose and touched and made a difference to the lives of the communities we serve.

That social purpose will be evident to anyone who spends time in the building, in our engagement and participation activities or who has viewed some of our work remotely. We believe that theatre is for everyone and our responsibility to our communities is to ensure that we bring that belief to life. We are a civic space which can hold the mirror up to society or invite people to step outside of their own experience and imagine the lives of others. We are a space in which theatre workers gain experience to develop their practice, where children and young people have their imaginations lit up and where we make a significant effort to ensure everyone is welcome. We are a place for conversations and discoveries and the opportunity to think differently.  We are a home of artistic excellence as well as artistic experimentation and we are on a journey to realise our artistic vision. Within all of that, we are also a great night out!

And of course, we are a charity, receiving support from the Arts Council of England (ACE) as well as maximising our own opportunities to earn income through ticket sales, venue hire, our café bar and more.  Our reserves mean that the short to medium term is secure, but the longer term has significant challenges, both in continually growing audiences and innovating the business. We are grateful, of course, for funding from ACE, but as with the vast majority of subsidised arts organisations in England, that award has not increased in over 10 years and there is no prospect that it will in future. This amounts to real-term cuts of 30-40% over more than a decade and continually tests the ingenuity of the Board and the joint Chief Executives. The business model of subsidised arts organisations across the country requires significant renewal across the next 3 years and Northern Stage is no exception.

The Board of Northern Stage is diverse:  we have deliberately brought together as Trustees a group whose lived experience and skills reflect the communities we serve. We have used tenure (each Trustee can serve a maximum of 2 x 4-year terms) to continually refresh and replenish and bring new perspectives. The culture of the Board is discursive and constructive and the role of the Chair is to make sure every voice is heard, in order to build the greatest consensus. The Board meets 4 times per year, but as with most Boards, the vast amount of work for the Chair and Trustees takes place outside that – in sub-groups, task and finish groups or informal engagements. The joint Chief Executives – the Artistic Director and the Executive Director – are accountable to the Board and the Board sets their objectives and targets each year and holds them accountable through an annual appraisal process.

I hope this note and the rest of the information you read will help you decide whether to apply. I hope you do – but I have one thought I’d ask you to consider in making your decision. I would ask you to consider whether you love theatre, this sort of theatre in particular, and the impact it can have. If you do, then already today you will be a regular theatre-goer and you will have an emotional connection with what theatre is and can be. That matters because as I said at the beginning, it’s a labour of love – and to do everything the Chair has to do over an extended period of time, you really have to love it.

Best wishes,

Simon Elliott

Chair, Northern Stage

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham | jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

About the Northern Stage

Northern Stage is the largest and best-funded producing theatre in Newcastle and the North East. A civic theatre – driven by a passion for art and challenging societal inequalities, they play an important regional role as a sector leader in the North East.

Northern Stage’s mission, vision and values are as follows:


Our mission is to be a theatre that welcomes everyone. We make and present contemporary theatre, live performances and creative programmes that spark connections, provoke curiosity and joy and explore new ways of seeing the world.


Our vision is for Northern Stage to be a leading force in making the North East a great place to create, watch and take part in theatre.

We will be informed and transformed by a dynamic and diverse community of theatre-makers, audiences, participants and collaborators who will have more opportunities to shape and participate in the cultural life of our city and our region.

Together, our work will enrich the cultural life of the North East, celebrating difference, advancing inclusion, strengthening communities, and using theatre as a force for positive change in the world.


We work with energy, passion and optimism because we believe theatre has the power to bring people together in extraordinary ways to imagine, explore and shape the future collaboratively.

We act with care and integrity and listen to the people we work with and serve, building relationships grounded in trust and honesty, learning from our experiences, and celebrating difference.

We are serious about inclusion and will question ourselves on our decisions, systems and processes and take action to advance our work with people who have been under-represented too often and for too long.

Objectives 2023-2026

Northern Stage has 6 strategic objectives for the 2023-2026 period.


  1. To increase the diversity of our workforce, audience and creative programmes.
  2. To improve our working practices and activities in ways that reduce our environmental impact and influence positive change.
  3. To make and present outstanding theatre that resonates with the people and priorities of the North East.
  4. To deepen & extend engagement in and enjoyment of theatre that brings people together to celebrate, create and connect with ideas.
  5. To strengthen our civic, regional and sector leadership role through strategic and partnership collaborations.
  6. To create space and capacity for dynamic innovation that drives long-term resilience and sustainability across all our activities.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham | jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs, and have made some modifications to the way we do business in order to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities.

At Northern Stage, diversity and equality are embedded in the heart of our thinking. We are committed to promoting these values through our artistic programme, workforce, participation projects and the services we offer our community.  Our building is fully accessible, and we offer a range of methods to assist in our visitors enjoyment of performances. More information is available here.

We offer the following amenities:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for an interview.
  • Flexible working patterns and locations.
  • Hybrid meeting options.
  • Investment in required access equipment.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham | jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Role Description and Person Specification and complete this equality monitoring survey.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Alternatively please send your contact details and video or audio file of 3-5 minutes duration which sets out what you feel you could contribute as a Trustee of Northern Stage and which outlines areas of your experience to date and suitability for the role.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Northern Stage – Chair” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

    Jonah Graham | jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.

    Applicants with a disability are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.


    Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 19th June 2023
    Candidates informed of outcome: By Friday 23rd June 2023
    Interviews: Wednesday 5th July 2023

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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