Lynne Williams to become the Guildhall School’s new Principal

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is delighted to announce that Lynne Williams will become the next Principal, starting in early 2017. Lynne Williams takes over from Professor Barry Ife who has been in post for 12 years and is stepping down to focus on teaching and research. Williams has been the Director/CEO of Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) since 2008.

Guildhall School Chairman of the Board of Governors, Deputy John Bennett, said, ‘We are delighted that Lynne Williams is joining the Guildhall School at this exciting time in the School’s life. The next few years will see significant opportunities as well as challenges for the higher education sector and for culture and the performing arts in the City of London and beyond. Lynne inherits a world-class institution with an exceptional senior management team leading a remarkably strong artistic, educational and research output. I am very pleased that she has accepted the offer to join us and take her vision for the School forward.’

Lynne Williams commented, ‘The Guildhall School is one of the great conservatoires of the world. I am excited to be joining the team and the wider Guildhall community to build on this prestigious reputation at a time when excellence and innovation in arts education and training has never been so crucial to ensuring a creative and cultural future for 21st century society.’

The Guildhall School’s Principal provides strategic direction and leadership for the institution and ensures that the School’s business plan is implemented effectively, positioning and representing the Guildhall School at a national and international level. Reporting to the Town Clerk and Chief Executive of the City of London Corporation and responsible to the Board of Governors of the Guildhall School, the Principal leads the Vice-Principals Group and the Senior Management Team.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Articulating the vision and strategy which enable the School to be at the forefront of its field
  • Ensuring the necessary growth and diversification of income generation and control of expenditure
  • Maintaining a strong working relationship with the City of London Corporation
  • Overseeing the implementation of a curriculum which aims at the highest standards of performing skill and academic achievement and at the development of individual autonomy, curiosity, leadership, flexibility and risk-taking through imaginative forms of teaching & learning
  • Continuing the development of the School’s specialist music training at the under-18 level through Junior Guildhall, the Centre for Young Musicians and Creative Learning
  • Achieving an educational environment which supports outstanding and innovative practice-based teaching and research, continuing professional development and creative enterprise
  • Maintaining a strong and robust system of monitoring academic standards, in order to retain the School’s world-class standing and reputation for its taught awards and validated research degrees
  • Forming a strong network of local, national and international partnerships and collaborations with professional and artistic organisations, educational and community groups
  • Creating a culture which is receptive to change, which fosters collaboration between the various professional disciplines, innovation, personal motivation and reflection, mutual tolerance and respect

About Lynne Williams

In a career spanning over 40 years, Lynne Williams has developed a significant breadth of arts practice, pedagogy and cultural entrepreneurship across not-for profit, government and commercial sectors. Williams has been the Director/CEO of Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) since 2008 where she has led transformative change including a reinvigorated teaching and learning environment, self-accrediting authority for the institution and international creative industry and education partnerships. The construction of the NIDA Graduate School, recently opened by the Prime Minister of Australia the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, and the launch of a new suite of Master of Fine Arts courses, is the realisation of her vision for an international centre to drive future-focussed performance practice, training and research.

Prior to NIDA, Lynne held many arts and cultural leadership positions in the UK where she was resident for 21 years. She led the development of the Culture, Ceremonies and Education Programme for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), following her contribution to London 2012’s successful Olympic Bid as a Cultural Advisor/Creative Producer. Lynne was also Artistic Director of Cardiff 2008, the company bidding for Cardiff to be 2008 European Capital of Culture. She was responsible for developing a new cultural strategy and leading a team in a bid on behalf of Wales.

Her experience in performing arts began in Australia where she studied and performed as a professional singer specialising in contemporary music and music theatre. She has a deep commitment to arts education and increased public access and has developed and promoted work across the full spectrum of the arts. She served on the Arts Council England Touring Panel and advised on a number of national audience development initiatives. She was also an Arts Council England advisor for contemporary music, opera, theatre and dance. She has served as a chair, a board and committee member of a variety of arts companies in both the UK and Australia including Arts and Kids, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and Performing Lines (Australia).


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Notes to Editors

About Guildhall School of Music & Drama

The Guildhall School is a vibrant, international community of young musicians, actors and theatre technicians in the heart of the City of London. Twice-rated No.1 specialist institution in the UK by the Guardian University Guide, and recently selected as one of the top ten institutions for performing arts in the world (QS World University Rankings 2016), the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research, with over 900 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. It is also the UK’s leading provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and the Centre for Young Musicians. The School is widely recognised for the quality of its teaching and its graduates, and its new building, Milton Court which opened in September 2013, offers state-of-the-art facilities to match the talent within its walls, ensuring that students enter their chosen profession at the highest level. Milton Court is part of the unique Guildhall School/Barbican partnership delivering world-class arts and learning.

City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is no stranger to world class performances. Its prime role is to support and promote the City as the world’s leading international financial centre. Within the Square Mile are over 530 foreign banks, with some two-thirds coming from countries outside the EU; it is quite simply where the world does business best. Keeping the world spotlight on the City’s financial status also reflects its cultural excellence. The City of London Corporation is one of the most significant sponsors of the arts in the UK. It provides the Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi arts and conference venue, and directly funds the London Symphony Orchestra’s residency. It is also a major funder of the enormously popular Museum of London and supports a year-round programme of major arts festivals and events in the City and neighbouring areas.

International standards of excellence run through the host of other responsibilities the City holds and which extend far beyond the boundaries of the Square Mile.

The Cultural Hub

The Guildhall School is working with four other major cultural organisations - the City of London Corporation, Barbican Centre, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London - to form a Cultural Hub, a creative alliance which builds upon the City’s already internationally-acclaimed cultural offer. The City of London cultural hub will be the creative heart of the Square Mile – an internationally renowned, distinctive, vibrant and welcoming centre for the arts, heritage, learning and entertainment. It is designed to be the newest cultural destination in London, and by 2018 – when Crossrail opens – it will be one of the most accessible cultural areas in London, with over 1.5 million additional visitors a year expected. Comprehensive highways, streetscapes and public and open spaces proposals are underway. The Guildhall School is actively contributing to planning and discussion around the hub, which will take shape in a series of developments over the next 10–15 years.