Black Swan State Theatre Company announced late on Friday afternoon that executive director Natalie Jenkins would be leaving and recently appointed board member Danielle Norrish would take the role.
The move has caught the arts sector by surprise, with several people telling Business News they had no idea Ms Jenkins was looking to leave or due to be replaced.
The timing of the announcement, at 5.40pm on a Friday, also raised eyebrows.
Ms Jenkins has served as executive director since January 2014.
Black Swan said she will continue as executive director until the end of her term which ends on December 31 and support Ms Norrish as executive director-elect through the transition.
In the year to December 2017, Black Swan’s total revenue was $5.9 million, ranking the company the tenth largest arts and cultural organisation on the BNiQ database.
Both revenue and patronage have fallen since 2014, but this could be explained by tough economic conditions.
Writing in the 2017 annual report (the group's most recent), Ms Forrest indicated the group had done well financially.
"It is important to note that despite the challenging market conditions, the company finished the year-end with a surplus of $407,006, making a very positive contribution toward our reserves," she said.
"Coupled with the funds generated by our new Production Fund, over the coming years we look forward to growing this financial resource, supporting world class theatre, made here in WA."
In the statement issued late Friday, Ms Forrest and the board thanked Ms Jenkins for her commitment to Black Swan over the past five years.
“Now is a good time for Black Swan to start the transition to new leadership as the company embarks on the next phase of its journey,” Ms Forrest stated.
“Danielle is ideally positioned to lead Black Swan going forward and the board is delighted to announce this new appointment.”
Ms Norrish has been the WA state manager of The Communications Council for the past eight years and previously held executive roles in the advertising industry.
She was appointed as a board member of Black Swan in February and is also on the board of Guildford Grammar School and Wollaston Theological College.
Ms Norrish said she had worked fearlessly over the past eight years to encourage creativity, foster artistic careers and promote the commercial impact creativity could deliver.
“To be given the opportunity to lead the state theatre company is truly an honour,” Ms Norrish said.
“I aim to bring bold ambitious leadership to this role to enable Black Swan to continue creating and sharing great theatre that inspires and entertains.”