Dundee Rep rocked by chief executive's sudden departure

The boss of one of Scotland's leading theatres has quit days after a damning article in The Scotsman raised serious concerns over how it is being run.

Nick Parr has resigned after just two years as chief executive of Dundee Rep, which boasts the country’s only full-time company of actors.

He has left with immediate effect less than two months after the Rep’s new artistic director, Andrew Panton, took charge of his first show. He has quit his role, which also saw him in charge of Scottish Dance Theatre, weeks before Dundee bids to become 2023 European Capital of Culture.

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Earlier this year Mr Parr had hailed the financial performance of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, including rises in turnover and operating profit, and a 17 per cent boost at the box office.

However Kirsty Gunn’s opinion column in The Scotsman last Monday told how the company had been left “devastated and depressed” by cuts in its production department. She raised concerns of a growing culture “replacing creativity with bureaucracy, artists and intellectuals with managers”.

Mr Parr arrived at the Rep, which dates back to 1939, in September 2015 after previously working as commercial director at a trust running the Festival Theatre and King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.

It was the first time Dundee Rep had decided to split the post of chief executive and artistic director. However, the then holder of the latter post, Jemima Levick, announced her departure to another theatre company, Stellar Quines, less than six months later.

Mr Panton, who was allowed to combine his Dundee Rep role with an existing job as artistic director of musical theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, has been appointed interim joint chief excutive of the theatre, along with SDT’s artistic director, Fleur Darkin.

An official statement said: “Nick Parr has left his role as chief executive of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre Ltd to pursue other opportunities. Andrew Panton and Fleur Darkin have been appointed interim joint chief executives.”

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Ed Troughton, chair of the board, said: “We would like to thank Nick for his hard work and we wish him all the best. Andrew and Fleur will work with a strong and experienced senior management team to lead the organisation, and will report directly to the board.

“The other trustees and I are currently reviewing the structure and governance of the organisation to ensure we are in the strongest possible position for the future.”

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman’s theatre critic, said: “It was a big shift for Dundee Rep to move away from the way the theatre had traditionally been run and it does not appear to have worked out. There has been unhappiness within the company and problems with productions.”