We have today announced that Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Hackney Empire, will be stepping down from his position next year, to pursue new opportunities. Yamin will remain in post until September 2024, continuing to shape programming, artistic collaborations with other venues and companies, and directing the 2024 Artist Development Programme show as part of the Creative Futures programme that he has done so much to shape since its launch over 20 years ago.
Yamin first came to Hackney Empire as a 17 year-old, and was welcomed into the building and its community, an ethos that underpins the organisation’s mission and values to this day. His own, often challenging, early life as a young man born and raised in North London, reflected the lived experiences of many of the young people and communities the company works with. His own stated ambition for the venue early in his tenure was to combine its commitment to community and championing of young people with a programme that revives a variety programme for a modern-day audience and celebrates all genres.
“I always say that I owe Hackney Empire, and the people who have made it what it is today, a debt I that will never be able to repay. Twenty years ago, this organisation saved me when very few were trying, as it has hundreds of thousands of audiences, artists and participants, from all over the world, for over a century. Its ongoing mission: to change our world, by enabling access for all on a fundamental level, is so important, so worth fighting for, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it. We haven’t always got it right, and there is so much more to be done, but we’ve always done our best, and that is something to be really proud of. It has been my greatest privilege to co-lead Hackney Empire as Joint CEO and Artistic Director alongside Jo Hemmant for the last 6 years. I have learnt so much through both the challenges and the achievements, and I hope, in some small way that I have been able to repay the kindness, love and generosity that has been the DNA of Hackney Empire since it reopened in 1985. To everybody that has been a part of this journey; the community, the audiences, the artists, the young people, and particularly the unbelievable team I have had the honour of working alongside, thank you. Beyond the stage, seats, bricks and concrete, the Hackney Empire magic has always been the people, and may that never change.”
Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director and Joint CEO
During the first 18 months of their tenure, Yamin and Jo Hemmant (Executive Director and Joint CEO) developed youth engagement by over 12% with the expansion of the free year-round programme of engagement Creative Futures, working with over 4,000 young people, as well as seeing over 84% of new bookers come through the doors. The leadership team skilfully steered the ship during the pandemic, launching fundraising campaigns and securing CRF funding, before reopening the doors in 2021 and then celebrating the venue’s 120th anniversary.
“It has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to work alongside Yamin to ensure that Hackney Empire is in the best place possible to be able to deliver the next chapter of its remarkable history – supporting artists and creating opportunities for young people and all communities within this iconic building. To me, he is a much-valued colleague and friend who I will miss deeply. However, I know that whatever path he takes in his life, Hackney Empire will never be far from his thoughts. I treasure the time we have spent together and am immeasurably proud of what we have achieved. Yamin is a diamond and we all wish him the success and happiness he deserves as he moves onto his next challenge.”
Executive Director and Joint CEO Jo Hemmant, who has led the team with Yamin since 2018
“Hackney Empire is and will remain indebted to Yamin Choudury for many years to come. In collaboration with Joint CEO Jo Hemmant, Yamin has led the team at Hackney Empire with a combination of high intellect, drive and sheer professionalism. His ability to create and work with diverse teams is only one of his many attributes. Yamin's ability to connect with stakeholders has been instrumental in creating a programme that speaks to the widest possible audience.”
Sir William Atkinson, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Further information about the recruitment process for the new Artistic Director will be announced in the new year.