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Curtain up on RSC's first female chair

BARONESS Shriti Vadera has been named as the next chair of the RSC when Nigel Hugill steps down in the autumn after ten years.

Baroness Vadera will be the first female chair and first person of colour to lead the RSC board.

She was recently appointed chair of Prudential and was previously chair of Santander UK – the first woman to chair a major British bank. She has also served on the boards of Astra Zeneca and BHP.

With more than 30 years' experience in the public and private sectors, she served as a minister in the cabinet office and international development and business departments of government before becoming an adviser to the G20 and governments around the world.

Her areas of expertise include strategic change management, cross-cutting policy-making and international negotiations.

She said: "I grew up in Uganda and India, in a traditional community where expectations of the development of girls were narrow and strict. I read and imagined Shakespeare before I saw it performed and it opened up a different world, giving me the courage to aspire to possibilities that transformed my life.

"I am passionate about the arts and the impact they can have on the lives of individuals and communities. I have long been a supporter of the RSC, a company rooted in history and which is modern, innovative and dynamic, uniquely national but also global.

"It is a company that is dedicated to the excellence of its art while being acutely aware of its wider roles and responsibilities. As the RSC emerges from one of its most difficult years, responding to the global pandemic, I am excited to be supporting and championing the RSC as its new chair and to look to the future. It is a joy and an honour."

Announcing the appointment, the company said it had been looking for "a highly experienced, inclusive leader, committed to the company’s vision, mission and values, and with a proven track record of leading an organisation through significant strategic transformation".

Current chair Nigel Hugill said: "When you step down as chair from a place that you care about so deeply, you want to be able to anticipate ongoing success with confidence and to know that responsibility is being passed on to the best of hands. Shriti Vadera believes strongly in the company's teaching, values and reach and is a marvellous choice as next chair of the RSC. I could not be more delighted."

Deputy chair Miranda Curtis, who led the recruitment search, said: "In a highly competitive field, Shriti stood out for her professionalism and relevant experience, her profound passion for Shakespeare and the transformative power of theatre, her clarity of vision and understanding of the strategic challenges facing the RSC, and her personal warmth."

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, added: "We’re delighted to welcome Baroness Vadera as the new chair of the RSC. She brings with her a real passion for arts and culture, a wealth of leadership skills melded with business experience.

"The RSC has an international reputation for excellence, producing great theatre that inspires people across the country and the rest of the world, ensuring millions of people can access world-class cultural activities and share in creative experiences.

"A strong, diverse and forward-thinking board is key to this success and I must also pay tribute to Nigel Hugill as the departing chair, who has led with innovation, professionalism and commitment for ten years."

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