King’s Head artistic director steps down after a decade

Fiona English and Adam Spreadbury-Maher who is stepping down as artistic director of the Kings Head

Fiona English and Adam Spreadbury-Maher who is stepping down as artistic director of the Kings Head Theatre in Upper Street Islington - Credit: Archant

Adam Spreadbury-Maher has staged more than 1,000 shows including numerous West End transfers at the Islington venue, which is due to move into a purpose built theatre next door

King’s Head artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher is to step down in September after 10 successful years.

During his tenure, the Australian ex-opera singer has put on more than 1,000 shows at the 110-seat Upper Street venue, including scaled down pub opera with his company OperaUpClose, and new work by and about the LGBT community.

He leaves the King’s Head in September as it prepares to move from the pub where it was founded 50 years ago, into purpose built £3m premises in neighbouring Islington Square.

King’s Head trustee Heather Ruck and Executive Director Fiona English will oversee the running while they recruit a replacement.

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Spreadbury-Maher hopes to “explore new challenges across Europe”.

“It has been an enormous privilege and honour to lead the theatre for 10 years, following in the footsteps of the legendary Dan Crawford. I leave the King’s Head Theatre on the brink of great change, and while the challenges of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated, the theatre’s move to a custom-built venue is still set to go ahead, bringing exciting new opportunities and the prospect of economic security. The world needs the King’s Head Theatre now more than ever. I would like to thank the audiences, artists, staff and board of trustees for the past decade. I’ve had the ride of a lifetime.”

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Fiona English said: “Working alongside Adam for the last three years has been a real joy and I’m so grateful for everything he has done to secure the future of the King’s Head Theatre. Now, as we look forward to our next chapter, I am excited for the future of our venue in Islington Square. I look forward to working with a new Artistic Director to push the maverick spirit of the King’s Head Theatre further than ever.”

The Kings Head has been closed since mid-March but has successfully crowdfunded £100,000 to stay afloat, with an additional £35,000 grant from Arts Council England.

The venue has helped to launch the career of many writers and performers including Joanna Lumley, Hugh Grant, Dawn French, and Alan Rickman.

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