THE man who oversaw a multimillion pound redevelopment of one of Oxford’s iconic theatres is to step down after 22 years.
Euton Daley, chief executive and artistic director of Pegasus Theatre, in Magdalen Road, has worked with thousands of children and young people and brought theatre groups from around the world to the East Oxford theatre.
Mr Daley, 54, lives in Cowley with his wife, head of creative learning at the theatre Yasmin Sidhwa, and their three children.
He has announced he will step down next summer.
Mr Daley said: “Whenever you have been somewhere for as long as I have, you do start to think is it time to move on but the time is never right.
“We are now coming up to the end of our 50th year and it seems like an ideal time.”
Mr Daley, who was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours in 2008, is not leaving for a specific new post but to pursue creative activities as a writer, performer, director and producer.
He may return to work with youngsters at Pegasus in some capacity – but not before having a break to give his replacement a chance to settle.
The most challenging period of his tenure was in 1995 when arts funding was cut by Oxfordshire County Council.
Mr Daley said: “That was a particularly difficult time for Pegasus but within two years, we came out of it.
“They reinstated the funding and we managed to keep things growing and have grown stronger.”
His children have all been involved in Pegasus.
Mr Daley said: “My eldest son, Kema, 18, has an aspiration to get involved in the arts and working with young people and to run a place like Pegasus. He was hoping I would stay here until I was very old and he would be in a place to take over the mantle, but I said to him it’s not mine to hand over.”
The new building opened in September 2010 and now up to 3,500 young people and adults take part in workshops, projects and courses.
The number of staff has grown from just four when Mr Daley started as a youth and community co-director to 20, plus visiting professionals.
The longest-serving member of staff apart from Mr Daley is head of marketing Gill Jaggers.
She said: “Euton has been a terrific boss, a supportive mentor and great fun to work with.
“He is a great listener and has won the respect and love of so many of the young people he has worked with over the years, staff and trustees at Pegasus, members of the community and the funders who have and continue to support the organisation. He will be missed very much.”
Chairman of trustees Becky Hall added: “His passion and enthusiasm has inspired Pegasus to become what it is today – it will be incredibly hard to find someone to fill his shoes.”
Sally Abbott, regional director of the Arts Council England, described Mr Daley’s leadership as “outstanding”.
She said: “Euton has been an inspiring arts leader to work with and the wonderful legacy he leaves behind in Oxford will be felt for years to come.”
HISTORY OF PEGASUS
Pegasus is an arts centre that was set up in East Oxford in 1962.
It specialises in performing arts for young people, who work with professional performers.
The venue recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment to provide new workshop, dressing room, costume store, dance and rehearsal spaces for activities, visiting and resident companies as well as creating a new foyer and cafe.
The main performance area, the Pullman Stage, is named after the venue’s patron, the author Philip Pullman.
Since re-opening in September 2010, Pegasus offers workshops, projects and course places for up to 3,500 young people and adults.
Up to 20 in-house productions and 70-80 visiting productions take place each year.
This year it celebrated its 50th anniversary.