Caroline Routh charts her career path through the arts

Caroline Routh
Caroline Routh

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Musical Theatre Network (2012 to date)

I’m pretty new to this post and currently on a very steep learning curve about the world of musical theatre. My role is to facilitate and support the creation of new musical theatre and to build the community that will help to sustain it, as well as to act as an advocate and champion for its role within the performing arts. At the moment I’m immersing myself in shows as diverse as London Road, Soho Cinders and Othello: The Remix (a bit like background reading, but with music); next I’ll be heading off around the country to find the partners to share our vision and to work with us to deliver it.

CO-FOUNDER AND CO-DIRECTOR The Empty Space (2006–2012)

I’d never imagined I’d set up my own company, but on leaving Northern Stage I knew I wanted to stay in the North East, and I was also increasingly frustrated at the lack of opportunities in the region for emerging artists. So, in collaboration with a colleague and friend, I set up The Empty Space – an organisation producing and supporting theatre in the North through a range of initiatives aimed firmly at artists working at the grassroots level. We took shows to Edinburgh and then toured them; ran training schemes; offered one-to-one mentoring; showcased new work at early stages in its development; and just before I left, launched a Catalyst funded scheme to help smaller, non-building based companies develop their fundraising skills.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Northern Stage (2002–2005)

My role encompassed the managerial, financial and producing aspects of the company, but rapidly became almost entirely focused on leading the £9.5m capital refurbishment of the theatre. I’d never done anything like it before but loved the challenge and I still get a tiny thrill of pride every time I revisit the building.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR Battersea Arts Centre (1999–2001)

My first role running a building and what a building to choose! BAC was flourishing artistically, less so financially so for just under three years, alongside the brilliant Artistic Director Tom Morris, I led the organisation through a massive period of change and was able to put it onto the secure footing its artistic programme deserved. I worked there at a time when the building was stuffed with some of the most talented artists around and I learned huge amounts about how artists and work could be supported and developed – and those lessons have stayed with me throughout my career since.


ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR Solent Peoples Theatre (1994–1999)

Running a community theatre company provided me with the fullest understanding of everything that went into making theatre. One minute I would be negotiating a funding agreement with Arts Council England, the next I would be out at a village hall helping with the get-out. It was with this company that I saw just how transforming theatre could be in people’s lives and my belief in the importance of participation in the arts has stayed with me ever since.

Caroline Routh is Executive Producer at the Musical Theatre Network.