Kneehigh has shut down

Published: 3 June 2021
Reporter: David Chadderton


Just over two months after founder Mike Shepherd announced he was to step down as Artistic Director, the board of Cornish theatre company Kneehigh has announced that the company will be wound down with immediate effect after 41 years of operation.

Chair of the board Hedda Archbold said in a statement to mailing list subscribers on 3 June 2021:

...with sadness and regret the Board of Kneehigh will be announcing the winding down of Kneehigh today.

...As a board we had hoped that the company could have a future life, and it has been a very hard decision to make. It is a particularly difficult time for the small core Kneehigh team. We want to thank them for the excellent work they have done under the circumstances of the past year and want to pay tribute to their passion and their commitment to Kneehigh.

...We would also like to reiterate our thanks and gratitude to you, for all the support, kind words and loyalty that you and Kneehigh’s many friends have shown over the last forty years.

Kneehigh was founded in 1980, and has since gone on to international acclaim. Shepherd announced his intention to leave the company in March, as did writer and artist Anna Maria Murphy. Writer and former Deputy Artistic Director Carl Grose left in January.

The company has confirmed that it is solvent and can meet its obligations, but no more planned shows will go ahead. The company hopes that its digital tools can remain available.

On the Kneehigh web site, Archbold said, "the board wants to acknowledge that this is a difficult time for the Kneehigh team. We want to thank them for the excellent work they have done and pay tribute to their passion and commitment to Kneehigh.

"Last Saturday, the brilliant Random Acts of Art had its final performance. The project has been a high point on which to end. These bold, playful, humorous and thought-provoking creative works brought together dozens of collaborators all across Cornwall, and delighted audiences out and about as well as online. Eclectic, anarchic, inspiring and inclusive, it embodied the spirit of Kneehigh we have loved for the past 40 glorious years. Despite the challenges of the past year, it has been an incredible journey filled with joy and delight.”