A pioneering theatre boss who pushed through a controversial name change and refused to host a Jewish film festival is leaving after 11 years.

Indhu Rubasingham has announced she will step down as artistic director of the Kiln Theatre, in Kilburn High Road, early next year.

She was appointed as the first Asian woman to hold the post at the then-Tricycle Theatre in 2012, taking over from Nicholas Kent, who was in the role for 28 years.

In August 2014 she came under fire for refusing to host the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) unless organisers withdrew its part funding from the Israeli government.

Ms Rubasingham said she wished to remain ‘politically neutral’ during conflict in Israel and Gaza but her decision offended members of the Jewish community, many of whom were supporters of the theatre.

The Tricycle reversed its decision, later issuing a joint statement with the UKJFF and publicly apologising.

Two years later, Ms Rubasingham was made an MBE for services to theatre.

Following a two-year £9m refurbishment, in 2018 the theatre expanded from 235 to 296 seats, with the name Kiln above the door.

In a statement on the Kiln's website, Ms Rubasingham said it had been an "honour" to be the theatre's artistic director.

"I never had an inkling of the journey ahead when I was first appointed. I immediately felt the responsibility, but what emerged was both challenging and exhilarating, an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life," she added.

"I have learnt and grown so much over these past 11 years. It has given me the privilege and opportunity to work with many brilliant people, who have contributed to the successes of Kiln; a theatre with a mission that is heartfelt and held by the whole team."

2018 also brought an adaption of Zadie Smith's Willesden-set novel White Teeth

A champion of new writing, she worked with Zadie on the author's The Wife of Willesden, which enjoyed two sell-out runs before transferring to America.

She added: "It is a wonderful space, that welcomes us in to immerse ourselves in different worlds, narratives and experiences.

"I have been very lucky to be part of its story. It now feels the right moment to pass the baton and herald the next chapter of this unique theatre.”

Chair of the theatre's board Sita McIntosh said Ms Rubasingham was a "rare talent and will be much missed".

She added: “Indhu has brought so many incredible qualities to the role of artistic director – a flair for programming, the innate ability to combine the commercial with artistic risk, and to bring a wealth of voices into the Kiln, never afraid to challenge, to ask questions, and to bring out the very best in those whose work she champions. 

"However, it’s not only on the stage that her presence is felt, she’s put creative engagement at the very forefront of the company’s ethos, firmly believing theatre should be accessible to everyone through the work and through training opportunities. 

"Her greatest legacy is the building, which through a major capital project, she has future proofed for generations, and it’s that building that will host the next chapter for the company as we look for a new artistic director to build on Indhu’s evident successes.”