New director takes the reins at Lancaster’s Dukes Theatre

New Dukes director, Karen O'Neill.
New Dukes director, Karen O'Neill.
Share this article

The Dukes has today announced that Karen O’Neill, formerly of the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, will take the reins as the venue’s director from August.

Karen will be taking on the new role at a pivotal moment for the Lancaster venue, overseeing the implementation and development of the new business model to ensure that The Dukes survives and thrives long into the future.

During her time as executive director of the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Karen has driven the organisation’s focus on sustainability and secured more than £600,000 in capital investment in the venue.

Karen said: “I’m thrilled to be joining The Dukes and am excited to start getting to know the great team and their loyal audience.

“The Dukes is at the heart of the creative landscape of Lancaster and has an amazing reputation both locally and nationally as a creator of excellence.

“I am looking forward to working alongside our Board and partners to shape the next chapter, creating a bold and inspiring organisation for our audiences, communities and artists.”

Before joining the Lawrence Batley, Karen was at the Palace Theatre and Opera House working as part of the senior leadership team delivering large-scale productions to audiences across the North West.

Karen is also a Clore Leadership Fellow and an International Fellow of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, one of only four UK fellows since 2008.

She serves as a trustee for the University of Huddersfield Student Union and has been a mentor for the Extend Programme through Engagement for the Visual Arts.

John Chell, chair of The Dukes board, added: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Karen into The Dukes team and look forward to her bringing a fresh perspective to the organisation – I believe this is a brilliant appointment.”