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Northern School of Contemporary Dance

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Staff and Leadership

Chief Executive Officer

David Ruebain

Chief Executive Officer

David took up the post of Chief Executive Officer at the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama in October 2018. Until April 2018 he was Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit, a policy and research agency funded to advance equality & diversity in universities in the UK and colleges in Scotland (until it merged with LHFE and HEA to form Advance HE). David practiced as a solicitor for 21 years; latterly as Director of Legal Policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain and before that as a Partner at and founder of the department of Education, Equality and Disability Law at Levenes Solicitors. David has been the Equality Adviser to the English FA Premier League, a Trustee of ADD (Action on Disability and Development), a member of the Rights & Justice Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Advisory Board of the Wellcome Trust and a Fellow of the British American Project.

Conservatoire Executive Committee (please click to read bio)

Fiona Francombe

Principal, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Fiona trained in technical theatre at Rose Bruford College, before embarking on a career in stage management, working at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She moved into the TV industry in 1990 in London, joining the BBC’s Drama department as a runner. Following her move to Bristol in 1993, she worked both for the BBC and as a freelancer for a variety of television dramas as a location manager and producer, before going on to manage production liaison for South West Screen and Creative England.

In response to the BBC’s 2009 decision to relocate production of dramas such as Casualty to Cardiff, Fiona successfully lobbied Bristol City Council for support in retaining production industries in the city. In 2010 she went on to establish The Bottle Yard Studios in previously disused warehouses on a seven-acre site situated on the southern outskirts of Bristol. The Council-owned studios are now established as one of the leading production facilities in the country, contributing greatly to the millions generated by the media sector for the local economy each year. Fiona moved to BOVTS as Principal and CEO in August 2020.

Fiona sits on the Royal Television Society West committee, the BBC/Bristol City Partnership Steering Group, the One City Economy Board, is a Trustee of the Cathedral Schools Trust and a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers. In recognition of her ‘exceptional contribution to film and TV’, she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts in 2019 by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). In 2017 she received the Women of the Year Award from the Bath Chronicle & Bristol Post for outstanding leadership.

Mark Osterfield

Executive Director, Central School of Ballet

Mark Osterfield was appointed Executive Director for the Central School of Ballet in March 2020. Mark has spent his career managing leading arts organisations and facilitating change for the public benefit with social, cultural and economic impact. He worked on the major refurbishment of Camden’s Swiss Cottage Central Library that was completed in 2003. As Executive Director Tate St Ives Mark championed the refurbishment and extension of the iconic gallery, winning 'Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018' as a result of his leadership. Since 2018 he has worked as a consultant and interim Director for a number of visual arts organisations including Spike Island, and Wysing Arts Centre.

Having studied ballet as a child, including a short stint at the Royal Ballet School, Mark read English at Keble College, Oxford, and then took a second degree in Fine Art at Middlesex University. Mark plans to bring this experience to the new role at Central, supporting young people to achieve excellence as dancers, whilst seeking to broaden Central School of Ballet’s reach and engagement with diverse communities, as it moves to its new premises in Southwark on the South Bank.

Clare Connor

Chief Executive and Interim Principal, London Contemporary Dance School

With a longstanding background in dance and performance, Clare trained at London Contemporary Dance School before embarking on a successful performing career with Phoenix Dance. She then worked as a teacher-artist in both further and higher education and collaboratively produced performing arts programmes for the University of East London, as well as supporting the validation of new arts programmes in several universities.

In 2014, Clare joined the team at Southbank Centre as Director of Business Development and took the lead on innovative large-scale capital fundraising programmes. Her previous roles, prior to that, include co-founding the national network Future Arts Centres and working as Director of Stratford Circus Arts Centre, from 2005-2014, where she led the re-imagining of the organisation to create a new charitable body to run it in 2012.

Kate White

Chief Executive, National Centre for Circus Arts

Kate White is Chief Executive of the National Centre for Circus Arts, which offers the UK’s first HE level education in Circus Arts as well as support and services for professional and aspiring performers, adults, young people and companies from its base in Hoxton. Kate joined the National Centre, previously Circus Space, in 2007 as Director of Marketing and Communications from a career in various regional multi art form venues. Her previous role was at the Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford, where she had been responsible for developing artistic programming, brand development and marketing with an emphasis on creative collaboration and partnership working.

With responsibility for developing the Circus Space brand, marketing and both internal and external communication strategies for all of Circus Space’s activities, Kate was also acting as Director of Lifelong Learning through a period of change in the delivery of all pre vocational, widening participation and recreational training.

She took on the role of Deputy Chief Executive at Circus Space in 2008 and became Acting CEO covering Jane Rice-Bowen’s maternity leave in December 2009; leading the organisation through a major restructure during a crisis period triggered by the global economic downturn. When Jane returned to work in late 2010 they began a hugely successful and enjoyable job share arrangement that continued until 2015.

In March 2014 Circus Space was re-launched as the National Centre for Circus Arts having gained government support, along with that of the sector, to formalise its leadership role and to position circus alongside theatre, dance, music and visual arts as a critical part of the country’s cultural offer.

Kate is now leading the organisation as sole CEO and remains committed to the delivery of the highest quality vocational circus arts training and to the creation of a real culture of circus in the UK that will allow this remarkable art form to continue to flourish and grow.

Sharon Watson

Principal, Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Amanda Britton

Principal and Artistic Director, Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance

Amanda Britton has over 25 years of experience as a dancer, teacher, rehearsal director, mentor and course leader. Having trained at the Rambert Academy, she joined Ballet Rambert in 1984. She went on to become a leading dancer, creating roles in works by Christopher Bruce, Merce Cunningham, Richard Alston, Siobhan Davies, Ashley Page, Glen Tetley and Trisha Brown amongst others. She left Rambert in 1993, moving on to create and perform work with Siobhan Davies Dance Company, including the Olivier Award winning ‘Art of Touch’ (1995).

Amanda has taught as a freelance artist throughout the UK. After retiring from performance she joined the faculty at LCDS, where alongside a full-time teaching role she completed an MA in Dance Education and Training. She took up the post of Head of Undergraduate Studies at Rambert School in 1995, becoming Deputy Principal in 2014.

Amanda has retained her links with Rambert Dance Company, regularly teaching company class and overseeing a number of collaborative projects which have allowed Rambert School and Company to work together. Amanda has also worked as an External Examiner for several schools.

Amanda succeeded Dr Ross McKim as Principal and Artistic Director of Rambert School in July 2015.

Board of Governors

Chair of Board of Governors

Julian Roskill

Independent Governors

Dr Roderick Clayton

Emily Fletcher

Janice French

Prof Martin Halliwell

Rabia Harrison

Robert Jude

Mindy Kilby

Rebecca Laschetti

Lesley Payne

Colette Wilson

Governors Nominated by Conservatoire Schools

Derek Hicks

Guy Stobart

William Underhill

Louise Verrill

Tamas Wood

Staff Governors

Pete Dunleavy

Matthew Slater

Student Governor

Tierney Lawlor

Shared Services Staff

David Ruebain

Chief Executive Officer

Vanessa Baptista

Widening Participation and Equality Coordinator

Ehima Efeyini

Data Officer

Samantha King

CDD Library Advisor & OpenAthens Administrator

Stephen Laurie

Director of Business Development

Jill Leigh

Academic Registrar

Joseph Lowe

Director of Finance & Operations

Heather Newton

Deputy Academic Registrar

Olivia Oakley

Office Manager and PA to the CEO

Gloria Price

Student Finance Coordinator

Imran Sheikh

Data Manager

Sandra Surblyte

Assistant Registrar (Quality)

Emma Swift

Conservatoire Secretary

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