Winchester’s annual Hat Fair has a new director. Michelle Walker joins the Hat Fair team at Theatre Royal Winchester in December to take the reins as Artistic Director. The role will involve not only running the UK’s longest running street festival but also producing a number of exciting projects throughout the year to bring performance to new locations and new audiences outside the traditional theatre context.
Michelle joins the team from her previous role as Producer at Oxford Playhouse, where she has been responsible for creating shows on the main stage, in the studio and in off-site locations – including running tracks, shopping centres, car parks and disused garages – for the Playhouse Plays Out series. She has previously produced for Shared Experience, Bristol Old Vic, Foursight Theatre and UK Arts International. In 2009/10 she was the West Midlands’ Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme and earlier this year she received a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel fellowship.
On taking up the role of Artistic Director, Michelle commented, “I’m so delighted to be joining the team at Theatre Royal Winchester. I’ve always been thrilled by the transformative potential of theatre and outdoor arts to connect people and places and can’t think of a better expression of that potential than Hat Fair.”
She continued, “I’m really excited that the festival simultaneously has a deep connection to its local city and heritage as well as a truly international outlook: the range of artists and companies from all around the world whose work is presented in the unique environment of Winchester is really special. I’m particularly looking forward to getting to know the city inside-out, to meeting all the different people who make the city such a vibrant place to be each July, and to building on the creative collaboration between the festival and the Theatre Royal.”