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Conservatoire for Dance and Drama elects Caragh Merrick as new Chair to the Board of Governors

The Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, a higher education provider of world-leading performing arts training, is approaching its 20th anniversary. As we look to the future, we are delighted to announce the election of Caragh Merrick as our new Chair to the Board of Governors. Caragh will take up the post in November 2019 and succeeds the current chair James Smith, who has reached his maximum term limit after serving since 2010. Caragh joins the Conservatoire as we embark upon an ambitious new strategic plan, building upon the organisation’s legacy and strengths: internationally renowned conservatoire training underpinned by dynamic relationships with the performing arts industries, and a national presence across three leading centres of culture. She will work in close partnership with the Conservatoire’s Chief Executive Officer David Ruebain and the Principals of the six member schools.

David Ruebain, Chief Executive Officer, says of the appointment:

“Caragh brings a wealth of executive and board experience to the Conservatoire. She has a thorough understanding of both the higher education and performing arts sectors, and her previous work with membership organisations and her passion for collaboration make her the ideal person to realize the myriad opportunities of the Conservatoire partnership. She is the perfect successor to James, to whom we are immensely grateful for his caring stewardship during the past nine years. Caragh impressed us all with her leadership skills, style, and dedication to the performing arts, and I am excited to work with her in leading the organisation into its next evolution.”

Caragh was a senior audit partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1990 to 2002, during which time she also fulfilled a number of practice leadership roles, including membership of the UK Assurance Board with specific responsibility for HR strategy development and implementation. On retiring from PWC, she worked with Chairmen and Chief Executives, principally in the public sector, to develop effective board leadership and corporate governance.

She has held Trustee and Chair roles for a diverse range of organisations including the National Theatre, the National Foundation for Youth Music, Help Musicians UK, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, and UCAS, and remains a Trustee of the University of Birmingham and the Royal College of Art.

Caragh Merrick says,

“I believe strongly in the work of the Conservatoire and in the vital contribution of the performing arts to our cultural life and to our society as a whole. I am greatly looking forward to working with David and the Principals. The individual members of the Conservatoire are leading schools internationally in their chosen fields; together we can harness the considerable potential of the collective to achieve something very special in the coming years.”


Press contact: Emma Swift at Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, / 020 8150 5511.

Notes to editors:

The Conservatoire is a formal collaboration among six member schools who are committed to the delivery of world-leading education and specialist vocational training in the performing arts. We train the performing artists and production professionals of the future: actors, circus artists, dancers, stage managers, technical theatre practitioners, choreographers and directors.

Located at the heart of three vibrant cultural centres in London, Bristol and Leeds, the Conservatoire schools are: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Central School of Ballet, London Contemporary Dance School, National Centre for Circus Arts, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Rambert School.

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