Announcing our new Executive Director

Announcing our new Executive Director

Posted on March 1st, 2023

Today we’re delighted to announce that we have appointed Emma Butler Smith, currently CEO at The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft as the next Executive Director of HighTide. She will lead the company alongside Artistic Director Clare Slater as joint Chief Executives. Emma takes over from Rowan Rutter, former Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of HighTide.

Tim Clark, Chair of the HighTide Board said:

“We are delighted to welcome Emma as the new Executive Director and Joint CEO. Emma brings a deep experience of theatre with a strong interest in new writing and a passion for environmental sustainability together with a strong commitment to the East of England. Emma will fit in brilliantly with the HighTide culture and will form a tremendous leadership team with our Artistic Director, Clare, in delivering our strategy and taking HighTide forward.”

Emma Butler Smith said:

“I am delighted to be joining HighTide as Executive Director & joint-CEO, especially at such an exciting time following the renewal of Arts Council England National Portfolio status through to 2026. HighTide has nurtured new playwrights and toured their works across the country for more than 15 years on a scale that has seen the East of England become a recognised centre for new writing which has impacted positively and more widely on the creative development of our region.

The last few years have taught us all that we need to be agile, to be ready for, and open to change when it comes. More than ever before in its history, HighTide has a part to play in enabling people to explore a variety of futures, especially as we recognise the profound effects of climate change on every aspect of our lives & our world and particularly on the coastal landscape of our own region.

I’m honoured to be joining Artistic Director Clare Slater in leading HighTide as it looks forward, forging stronger & deeper partnerships across this region.”

Clare Slater, Artistic Director, HighTide said:

“I am thrilled that Emma is joining us at HighTide after her inspiring leadership period at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.  I know that she’ll be a brilliant collaborator for me, our artists and our co-producing partners.  She knows the East of England inside out and will always deliver for our communities in the region.  As we launch my first season next month, Emma will be a wonderful partner in delivering it and all the things to come.”

David Blyth, Chair of Marina Board, said

“Emma has worked tirelessly for the Trust over the last few years to build a strong team and improve the Marina Theatre; as well as countless hours spent keeping the organisation running over extended periods of closure during the Covid pandemic. She has proven herself a strong leader and an invaluable asset. She will of course be sorely missed and I speak for the whole Board when I say that we feel her departure very deeply. However, her work since 2016 has meant that she leaves behind a capable team and a healthy organisation for a new Chief Executive to take on.

In her new role at HighTide she will remain a champion of arts and culture in the East Anglian region, and we hope Emma will remain a key contact and ally in the industry.

The Trust & I wish her all luck and every success for her new role.”

Emma Butler-Smith: Emma joins HighTide from the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft where she was CEO from 2018-2013, steering the theatre through the Covid-19 Pandemic. Prior to this she was Head of Marketing at the Marina for 18 months. Emma has 25 years’ experience of working in the arts & heritage sectors, working as a producer, general manager, tour booker, administrator & marketeer for companies including Fresh Glory Productions, Oxford Shakespeare Company, Menagerie Theatre, Kentwell Hall, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, John Good Holbrook & the Royal Shakespeare Company.