Kevin O’Sullivan, the manager of the University of Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre, is retiring at the end of April, after working at the theatre for the last 27 years.
Kevin joined the Arena as a technician after completing his degree at the University of Wolverhampton, becoming the Theatre Manager in 2000. Building on the legacy of the founder of the Arena, Philip Tilstone, Kevin has steered the Arena Theatre through more than 20 successful years of growth and development, with the continued support of the University of Wolverhampton and Arts Council England.
During Kevin’s time at the theatre there has been a big increase in the number of professional, local groups and schools and colleges using the space, with the Arena progressing from one member of staff in 1985 presenting 20 shows a year, to ten members of staff servicing more than 200 shows a year in 2013.
Over the years, the Arena Theatre has become a well-loved venue on the small-scale touring circuit, providing vital support to local emerging artists and companies, including Stan’s Café, Talking Birds and Little Earthquake.
Kevin has programmed an eclectic range of events that offer something for the whole community. This contributed to the Arena being awarded a 100% uplift in its regular funding from the Arts Council in 2011, particularly in recognition of its work in the community and disability arts.
Kevin O’Sullivan says, “I have enjoyed every minute of the last 27 years – I know we are doing the right thing when an audience comes out of the theatre smiling and talking about the show they have just seen. I’m confident that the legacy I have carried forward will be continued for many years.”
Peter Robinson, Principal Lecturer and Head of Department for Leisure and The Arena Theatre, said: “Kevin has made an outstanding contribution to the University of Wolverhampton through his development of the Arena Theatre. The interesting, exciting and innovative programme which Kevin leaves as his legacy is a reflection of his insight and understanding of the role of The Arena in showcasing contemporary performing arts.”
Kevin leaves the Arena in a strong position, supported by funders and partners and in the best place to attract new partners to support its wide range of work for local communities and audiences. Recruitment is underway for a new Venue Manager, with an announcement to be made in due course.