He succeeds Emelie FitzGibbon, who stays on as CEO and artistic advisor after her long, accomplished tenure at the popular children and youth theatre company.
He first worked as an actor in Graffiti’s 2006 world premiere production of The Lost Ones, directed by Emelie FitzGibbon.
“Graffiti has played a huge part in shaping the cultural landscape of Theatre for Young Audiences locally, nationally and internationally for more than 30 years,” said Niall Cleary.
“It has provided countless wonderful theatre experiences to generations of young audiences during that time. Emelie has set the bar so high in terms of her energy, innovation and artistic output. It’s really inspiring to look back on what the company has achieved and to now be in a position to bring that vision and energy into the future.”
Since joining Graffiti in 2015, Niall has shown great commitment to the artistic life of Cork’s children and young people. Emelie Fitzgibbon said it was this inspiring work which led her to identify him as her natural successor.
He was previously artistic director of Droichead Youth Theatre and was a founder member and company manager of Decadent Theatre Company. He also worked as a facilitator of the Abbey Theatre’s Outreach Department and he sits on the board of Youth Theatre Ireland.
Andrew Desmond, managing director of listings magazine WhazOn and long-serving Graffiti board member, paid tribute to Emelie FitzGibbon for her creative contribution to the theatre company since its formation in 1984.
Along with its annual roster of theatre productions and workshops with youth, Graffiti also works with author Roddy Doyle in the Fighting Words creative writing for primary school groups.
Andrew Desmond said: “No other person deserves to step out, alone, from behind the curtain and accept the applause of the rapturous audience, that audience being students, parents, actors, set designers, sound engineers, theatre lovers, teachers … all who have engaged with and experienced her work over these many years. Emelie Fitzgibbon takes a bow as artistic director of Graffiti Theatre and gracefully exits the stage, but thankfully only for a costume change.”