JACQUI O’HANLON (Keynote Speaker)

Director of Education - Royal Shakespeare Company

Jacqui joined the RSC in 2003 and has been Director of Education since 2008.  She is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the Education work of the company focusing on primary, secondary and special schools and Higher Education.  Jacqui established the RSC’s Learning and Performance Network and initiated the company’s Schools’ Broadcast series which has reached 120,000 young people to date. She developed and edited the RSC Shakespeare Toolkit for  Teachers, which brings the work of RSC rehearsal rooms to life in the classroom and has been distributed to every school in the country. She leads on developing strategic education partnerships with broadcasters, universities and theatres nationally and internationally.

Charlotte Jones (Conversation Chair - Scales, Structures and Purposes)

Chief Executive - Independent Theatre Council

Charlotte Jones read English and Philosophy at York University and Law at the College of Law Chancery Lane. She trained as a solicitor and worked as a legal advisor at Brixton Law Centre and the Interchange Studios. She also worked at York Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid as a counsellor and advisor and as a freelance trainer and facilitator since 1991, specialising in company management, contracts and negotiating skills. Charlotte has been Chief Executive of ITC since 2000 and was previously Deputy Director responsible for management advice, union negotiations and dispute resolution.

Barbara Matthews MBE (Conversation Chair - Scales, Structures and Purposes)

Pro-Vice Chancellor - De Montfort University

Barbara Matthews joined De Montfort University (DMU) as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Art, Design and Humanities in August 2013. She was a Governor of De Montfort for two years before taking up her current post.

Honoured with an MBE for services to the arts, Barbara has a wide practical experience of the artistic and business aspects of the performing arts and has worked in opera, music theatre, live literature, orchestral music and dance. Before joining Arts Council England she spent time in consultancy with clients across the arts and voluntary sectors. She ran training courses for the Theatrical Management Association, Arts & Business and Arts Council England and worked with several organisations for NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).

Professor David Thacker (Conversation Chair – Employability)

Professor of Theatre - Bolton University

Professor David Thacker was Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre Bolton from 2009 until 2015 when he stepped down to take up the post of Professor of Theatre at the University of Bolton, taking on the new role of Associate Artistic Director at the Octagon.

David’s first major role in British theatre was as Artistic Director of the Duke’s Playhouse, Lancaster – at the time the youngest Artistic Director in the country. His success here led him to be appointed as Director of the Young Vic.

From the Young Vic he moved to the RSC as Director-in-Residence where he directed nine productions including ‘Pericles’ for which he was awarded two Olivier Awards.

Patrick Spottiswoode (Conversation Chair – Teaching and Learning Contexts)

Director - Globe Education Shakespeare’s Globe

Patrick Spottiswoode joined Shakespeare’s Globe in 1984 and became founding Director, Globe Education in 1989.

When Patrick joined, there were two full-time staff in the entire organisation. There are now 28 full-time and over 70 freelance staff in Globe Education alone who work with over 100,000 people of all ages and nationalities every year.

Patrick has undertaken annual lecture tours to schools, universities and theatres the length and breadth of Germany since 1985. A partnership in 1991 between Globe Education and S-E-T, the Bremen educational tours company, has led to over 25,000 German students and teachers visiting the Globe every year for workshops and lectures. His 2010 series Shakespeare is German explored Germany’s particular fascination with Shakespeare and resulted in a BBC radio documentary which he presented. Over the past seven years Deutsche Bank UK has supported an annual production in the Globe created especially for young people which has enabled Globe Education to give close to 100,000 free tickets to London schools.


Rob Brannen (Conversation Chair – Teaching and Learning Contexts)

Head of the School of Arts - De Montfort University

Rob Brannen is Head of the School of Arts. The School contains programmes in Arts & Festivals Management, Dance, Drama, Fine Art, Foundation Art & Design, Music Technology and Performing Arts.

Rob has published, presented papers and led workshops in the areas of pedagogy and performance, new theatre writing and the politics of arts funding.


Professor Eleonora Belfiore (Conversation Chair – Research Contexts)

Professor of Communications and Media Studies - Loughborough University

Eleonora Belfiore has published extensively on cultural politics and policy, and particularly the place that notions of the ‘social impacts’ of the arts have had in British cultural policy discourses.

Her research has focused on researching the politics of cultural value, and she was Director of Studies of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (2013-5), and co-author of its final report, Enriching Britain: Culture, creativity and growth, published in February 2015.

Eleonora is currently developing new strands of cultural value research in collaboration with arts organization: she is working on an exploration of cultural democracy in the 21st century with Fun Palaces, and on understanding the impact of creative responses to the migration crisis with Counterpoint Arts.

Dr Claire Warden (Conversation Chair – Research Contexts)

Senior Lecturer in Drama - De Montfort University

Claire joined the School of Arts in September 2015, having previously been a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and the University of Edinburgh, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her research focuses on cross-disciplinary modernism, British and Continental European theatre, performance theory and contemporary performance aesthetics, particularly in relation to sport and entertainment.

She is the author of ‘British Avant-Garde Theatre’ (Palgrave MacMillan 2012), ‘Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance: an introduction’ (Edinburgh UP 2015) and ‘Migrating Modernist Performance: British theatrical travels through Russia (Palgrave MacMillan 2016), as well as multiple journals articles and book chapters. She is associate editor of Wiley-Blackwell’s ‘Encyclopaedia of Modernist Literature’ (2018) and, proving she is nothing if not diverse, is also co-editor of ‘Performance and Professional Wrestling’ (Routledge 2017