Geoffrey Brown to leave OffWestEnd and the Offies

Geoffrey Brown is standing down at 30 June 2024, after 7 years as Director of OffWestEnd and the Offies.  His successor will be announced at the 14th Offies Awards Ceremony on 25 February.

In Geoffrey’s 7 years, OffWestEnd and the Offies have grown and developed significantly:

  • New Offies categories have been added: Solo & Duo Performances, Cabaret, Pantomime and Video Design – in addition, some categories have been expanded – for TYA (theatre for young audiences) and for IDEA (Immersive / Devised / Experimental / Atypical)
  • An “Access” category has been introduced for productions breaking down barriers and also one for “Community Outreach Youth” work.  In addition, the Offies were the first major theatre or film awards to scrap the gender split in key performance categories in 2020.
  • In response to Covid, 8 new categories were introduced for online productions, and 2 of these continue today.
  • The Offies now send 2 assessors to over 400 shows per annum.
  • The OffComm (Offies Commendation) was introduced to recognise the best of the many productions with short runs.  The OffFest award was introduced for theatre performances at festivals, and we now have the participation of fringe festivals in Brighton, Camden, Manchester and Edinburgh.  Finally we also now offer the occasional OneOff award to recognise special achievements.

  • During this time, the assessor team has been expanded, with more younger people joining.
  • The live awards ceremony was re-introduced in 2018, when 350 finalists, presenters, sponsors and guests gathered at The Albany in Deptford.  In the next 2 years, the awards ceremony was held in the newly re-opened Grand Hall at Battersea Arts centre – and then Covid hit.  During this period, there were 2 online ceremonies and then the first post-Covid live event in 2023 at Alexandra Palace.  Around 900 people are expected to attend the 14th Offies Awards Ceremony next week, on 25 February, at the Woolwich Works.
  • On a practical level, a new branding was introduced.  The OffWestEnd website was replaced and a new website introduced for the Offies.  Marketing services have been expanded, and now include social media marketing.  The Monday MailOFF – a weekly summary of all shows opening in the coming week – has been introduced and is proving successful.
  • Finally, it is noted that OffWestEnd and the Offies survived Covid even though their entire income (from marketing services and live awards event) virtually disappeared

Geoffrey Brown says:

“The last 7 years have been some of the most stimulating, exciting and challenging of my entire career of over 45 years of working in arts and culture.  The creativity, imagination and commitment of those working in OffWestEnd and other independent theatres is inspiring – especially given the precarious nature of the sector generally and particularly post Covid.  I am pleased that the Offies have expanded and we are now able to promote and celebrate a wider range of productions, and I hope we have played a small part in helping the sector be recognised for the breadth and quality of the work that is produced and presented.  Though I am stepping down and away, I am looking forward to opportunities to continue to enjoy independent theatre, wherever I happen to be.”

OffWestEnd exists to celebrate the full spectrum of independent and alternative theatres and to draw increasing numbers of the general public into the heady darkness and dangerous passion of these little powerhouses perched above a pub, tucked under a railway bridge, packed into a disused warehouse, built around a butcher’s shop or suspended above a shopping centre. Off West End theatres play a in society as a whole – important on stage in taking risks to push the boundaries of live performance, important for the audience in entertaining the intellect and stretching the imagination and, most of all, important as a breeding ground for new talent and new ideas that feed into our culture, reinventing and reinvigorating us.

The Offies are a hugely successful aspect of the work of OffWestEnd – they recognise and celebrate the excellence, innovation and ingenuity of independent theatres across London (and beyond), helping to raise the profile and status of independent theatre by giving venues and companies greater power to promote their work individually and collectively and to reward the new talent that they nurture and that is essential to the future of our theatre industry.

OffWestEnd and the Offies were started in 2010 by Sofie Mason and Diana Jervis Read, and the first Offies awards ceremony was held in 2011.  Activities and services grew and they stepped down in June 2017, when Geoffrey took over.

As a result of the expansion of OffWestEnd and the Offies since Geoffrey Brown became Director in 2017 is that there is now an umbrella organisation, TheatresOff, which encompasses the work of OffWestEnd and the various Offies awards.  The goal of TheatresOff is to ensure that culturally diverse performances in independent & alternative theatres are presented in an equal, positive and unbiased manner to people interested in seeing new work and supporting new talent.

To find out more about OffWestEnd, visit here…

To find out more about the Offies, visit here…

To read our interview with Geoffrey, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop