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Shaw Festival Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell.Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

The Shaw Festival is planning a change in leadership.

The theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., has announced that artistic director Jackie Maxwell will step down at the end of the 2016 season and then help a successor program 2017.

Maxwell has lead the festival since 2003 and has directed numerous productions over the past 11 seasons, including most recently Major Barbara, Ragtime and Come Back, Little Sheba.

The Shaw board will strike a search committee immediately, the festival said in a press release.

"I look forward to assisting my successor in assuming leadership as seamlessly as possible – as was offered to me 12 years ago," Maxwell said in the release, referring to the handover from her predecessor, long-time artistic director Christopher Newton.