Derek Young, the Chair of Melbourne Theatre Company,  announced on Monday that after 18 years as General Manager, Ann Tonks will be leaving MTC later this year.

‘I have had the privilege of working closely with Ann during her whole time with MTC and have no doubt she is the best arts manager in Australia. The success of the Company in recent years, including our ability to build a new theatre and headquarters, is in no small part due to Ann’s outstanding management capabilities and personal qualities. During her tenure, MTC has achieved record subscription numbers, substantially increased revenue and delivered consistent operating surpluses. Ann has been the heart and soul of the company and finding a replacement for her will be very, very difficult,’ Derek Young said.

Ann Tonks joined MTC in 1994 at a challenging time in the MTC’s history. The Company’s theatre in Russell St was just about to be closed, its headquarters in Ferrars St, Southbank was in a state of disrepair and its financial situation was problematic. Ann worked firstly with Artistic Directors, Roger Hodgman and then with Simon Phillips to turn around the fortunes of the Company, re-build its audience base, improve the quality of its productions and make it one of the most effective and efficient performing arts companies in Australia. Ann has successfully built a team of highly skilled and committed managers around her to serve the Company’s artists in delivering world class theatre to Melbourne and Australia.

Ann Tonks said, ‘I had three major tasks to do when I joined MTC – build a theatre, replace the Company’s falling down headquarters and get the Company back on a stable financial footing. And working with a brilliant array of artistic directors, I’ve done that. Once I’d achieved those goals and was ready to leave, the Board gave me one more task: to keep the Company on a steady footing as we transitioned to our new Artistic Director, Brett Sheehy. So now I can have a holiday with a clear conscience!’

‘After my break, I will be exploring a range of consulting, employment, research and teaching opportunities,’ she said.

‘I’ve been honoured to work with Roger Hodgman, Simon Phillips and Brett Sheehy as well as this year’s artistic programming team Robyn Nevin, Pamela Rabe and Aidan Fennessy. In fact, I’ve had the best job in the performing arts in Australia and it seems only fair to let someone else have such a brilliant opportunity. As a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne, I’ve been teaching graduate arts management students in my spare time for many years so I know that there are lots of talented people just waiting to take over from me,’ Ann Tonks said.

MTC will embark on a comprehensive search for Ann’s replacement and she will continue in her role until the new appointee has commenced with the Company.