Baroness is first woman to lead RSC board

Published: 29 April 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

New RSC chair Shriti Vadera Credit: Sam Allard

Shriti Vadera has been appointed the new chair of the Royal Shakespeare Company—the first woman and first person of colour to lead the RSC board.

Baroness Vadera has more than 30 years’ experience spanning both public and private sectors. Early in her career, she served as a minister in the Cabinet Office and in the international development and business departments. She is a member of the House of Lords.

She is chair of Prudential plc and was the first woman to chair a major British bank, Santander UK.

On accepting the appointment, 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. It is a joy and an honour.”

RSC board deputy chair Miranda Curtis, who led the search for the new chair, 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.”

Baroness Vadera will take up her new role at the company’s annual general meeting in autumn 2021 when the current chair, Nigel Hugill, steps down after 10 years.