LAURA McMillan is the new theatre director of the Grand Opera House, York, taking over from the short-lived appointment of JJ Almond.
She is relocating from Coventry, where she was director of audience strategy at Coventry City Culture Trust, the charity responsible for the delivery of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021.
Laura aims to “ensure the Grand Opera House is rooted in the wider city of York and is seen as a welcoming place where locals and visitors can spend quality time”. Her ambitious programming, following this summer and autumn’s refurbishment of the Cumberland Street building, will “continue to bring world-class, high-quality shows to the heart of York”, including music, comedy, theatre and dance.
Laura also wants to build on the Grand Opera House legacy of providing a stage for the very best of York talent.
“Our new creative learning producer, Kelly Culver, will help us open up behind the scenes at the theatre more than ever before,” she says. “We will also work with local schools and colleges to provide incredible experiences and introduce them to the world of working in a theatre.”
Laura adds: “The theatre’s new Ambassador Theatre Lounge will help us provide that next level of VIP exclusive experiences for our audiences joining us to celebrate a special occasion, or just treating themselves.
“In the short term, I’m so excited to welcome Berwick Kaler back for a season of hilarious family fun [in the pantomime The Adventures Of Old Granny Goose from December 10 to January 8 2023].”
In Coventry, Laura was the first employee of the Coventry City of Culture Trust in October 2015, becoming responsible for overseeing all aspects of the bidding process, including the coordination of writing the bids, managing multiple stakeholders across the region and presenting to the judges.
In her last role at the trust, Laura was in charge of the marketing, communications, ticketing, digital content and monitoring and evaluation departments and was part of the senior management team.
She oversaw the trust’s audience development and tourism strategies and was a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority Regional Tourism Board and Destination Management Organisation Board.
In The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022, Laura was awarded an MBE for services to culture and the community in Coventry. Before joining the trust, she had worked in the sales and marketing department of Warwick Castle, then moved to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s marketing department for four years in Stratford-upon-Avon.