New appointments set to bring Byre Theatre to life

Dr Michael Downes, University of St Andrews' Director of Music, has been appointed artistic director of the Byre Theatre.

Dr Michael Downes, University of St Andrews' Director of Music, has been appointed artistic director of the Byre Theatre.

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A new management team for the Byre in St Andrews promises a feast of the arts at the theatre.

St Andrews University announced today (Friday) that Michael Downes, the university’s director of music, is to be artistic director of the theatre, and Stephen Sinclair, formerly operations manager at the Byre, becomes general manager.

Both men have been active in supporting the Byre’s re-opening since it went dark in January last year.

Mr Sinclair will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the theatre and its productions. He has more than 20 years experience in the industry, including theatre, dance, music, festivals, film, and national touring.

He said: “We will be working to bring a vibrant and diverse programme of activity to St Andrews and the wider community. We look forward to welcoming new companies as well as old favourites back to the theatre, and to bringing one of Scotland’s much-loved venues back to full-strength. I’m delighted to be working alongside Michael to support the development of the new programme.”

Dr Downes said he was “hugely privileged” to have been appointed.

“I feel the university and the town of St Andrews now have a unique opportunity to turn this wonderful theatre into a nationally significant centre for the arts,” he commented.

“The affection which so many people hold for the Byre has become increasingly obvious to me in recent months and I look forward to working with audiences and performers alike to restore it to a central position in the life of the community.”

Dr Downes has been appointed for three years and plans to bring the best professional, community and student drama and to strengthen the theatre’s offering in areas of performance including film, dance, opera and music.

The Christmas pantomime, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, produced by bard of the Botanics Gordon Barr, will show from November until January 2015.