Jonathan Church, artistic director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, is to leave next year to take over the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Mr Church, whose production of The Life of Galileo opens at the Rep tonight, is expected to leave next April after he has directed the UB40 musical, Promises and Lies.
Having arrived at a time when the Rep seemed to have lost touch with the local public, he achieved the remarkable feat of increasing audiences by 92 per cent.
His impact was immediate, with an award-winning production of Of Mice and Men which helped
establish TV personality Matthew Kelly's reputation as a serious actor.
It packed the Rep and proved a success on tour and in London.
Reversing the policy of his predecessor Bill Alexander, he considerably increased the number of productions, both homegrown and touring, with a "something for everyone" philosophy.
Bold initiatives included pairings of plays with the same cast - beginning with Patrick Marber's Closer and Noel Coward's Private Lives - and a revival of David Hare's state of the nation trilogy examining the Labour Party, the legal profession and the Church.