The Sydney Theatre Company's new artistic director is British import Jonathan Church

Jonathan Church is the STC’s next artistic director. Photo: Johan Persson.

British director Jonathan Church will take over as artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company when playwright Andrew Upton as steps down at the end of the year.

Church has run the Chichester Festival Theatre since 2006 and is credited with turning around the much-loved UK institution, including overseeing its $46 million redevelopment in time for its 50th anniversary celebrations last year. His inclusion of The Judas Kiss by Australian director Neil Armfield become one of the hits of his tenure, while he directed The Last Confession with David Suchet, which toured Australia last year. Another production, Singin’ in the Rain will tour in 2017. Church has his own UK production company.

Upton, who took on the role in 2008 with his wife, Cate Blanchett, as co-artistic director, before going solo in 2012, will unveil his final season for 2016 in a couple of weeks. He will begin programming STC’s 2017 season immediately.

Church, 48, is the company’s sixth artistic director in its 37 year history. In June this year he received a CBE from the Queen for his services to theatre, but it was only in the last couple of years that he visited Australia for the first time.

He says he’s watched the STC’s growth from afar over the past 30 years.

“Recently I have also been fortunate enough to begin to work first hand with some of Australia’s best theatre practitioners and I have a strong sense of the extraordinary talent that exists and the deep sense of commitment to the theatre and the arts in general that a wide range of companies have fostered in Australia,” he said.

Chairman David Gonski said: “We are extremely confident that Jonathan Church’s tremendous breadth of experience across the course of his career is a brilliant fit for STC”.

Andrew Upton said it was “a terrific choice”

“After a period being led by an actress and a writer, I think it’s important to have a theatre director once more at the helm,” he said.

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