New Glasgow School of Art Director Penny Macbeth, Mac News, GSA

New Glasgow School of Art Director: Penny Macbeth

25 Feb 2020

Penny Macbeth is New Glasgow School of Art Director

The Glasgow School of Art appoints Penny Macbeth as new Director

• Penny Macbeth’s experience reflects many of the dimensions of the role at the GSA

• The new Director will start in May 2020

Tuesday 25th of February, 2020 – The Glasgow School of Art has appointed Penny Macbeth, currently Dean of Manchester School of Art and Deputy Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor for Arts and Humanities focusing on external engagement and partnerships, as its new Director following an extensive international search it was confirmed today, 25 February 2020. The new Director will start in May 2020.

New Glasgow School of Art Director - Penny Macbeth
photo courtesy of GSA

Penny brings to The Glasgow School of Art an ambition for the School to build on its heritage as one of the last original Government Schools of Design and its role and international standing as Scotland’s specialist university-level institution for the visual creative disciplines. She will succeed Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam, who is stepping down from the role of Director later this year.

Announcing the appointment, Muriel Gray, Chair of the GSA Board of Governors and Chair of the Selection Panel, said:

“The appointment of Penny as the GSA’s next Director has been an extensive, engaged and thorough process which attracted a very strong field of national and international candidates.

Penny’s success at Manchester School of Art across student experience, engagement with the city and community alongside managing major capital development projects reflect many of the dimensions of the role at the GSA, and her experience will be invaluable in leading staff at an important time in the GSA’s history.

The Board is delighted that we have found an outstanding individual to lead the School as it strengthens its global standing and builds the foundations for its future as an independent School of Art.”

Penny Macbeth said:

“I am honoured to be invited to lead the School and to become part of its creative community at this significant point in its long and successful history.

The Glasgow School of Art has an enviable global reputation, and while not without its challenges and complexities, continues to be a high performing and hugely accessible institution. Importantly, as one of the last 19th century Schools of Design to retain its independence, the School continues to demonstrate the important role of art schools in understanding our past and shaping our future, and I look forward to working with staff, students and the School’s wider Creative Network and friends on the next chapter of the GSA’s history.”

Penny Macbeth

Penny Macbeth is Dean of Manchester School of Art and Deputy Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities focusing on external engagement and partnerships. Before taking on this role she was Head of the Department of Art and Associate Dean for Student Experience. She joined Manchester Met in 2011 from the University of Huddersfield where she was Head of the Department of Art and Design.

Throughout her career she has been committed to developing a professionally relevant curriculum for students and extensive networks and partnerships in Manchester and the sector as a whole. Manchester School of Art has pioneered an Award-winning offer that fosters an interdisciplinary approach to learning alongside the development of specialist in-depth knowledge of a subject. She is the academic lead for Manchester Metropolitan University’s ground-breaking School of Digital Arts: SODA, which is a £35m project due to open in 2021 which will combine the creative, tech and business attributes needed for the creative and digital economy of the future.

She sits on two Manchester citywide bodies: Culture Corridor Group and the St Johns network, she is academic board nominee on MMU’s Board of Governors and Board member of Castlefield Gallery. Penny is a founding member of the Culture Forum North a group of Cultural industry and HEI partnerships consisting of HE partners from across the sector and major cultural institutions such as Opera North, The Baltic and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The group produced a commissioned paper for Arts Council England ‘The Cultural Knowledge Ecology’ and aims to share knowledge and practice on new ways of working that enable the delivery of excellence in the arts. In 2018 Penny became an elected trustee to the board of CHEAD, in order to influence policy around art and design-based education at all levels of the education system. On behalf of CHEAD she represents the sector on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Crafts.

Penny is an active researcher and a member of the design research group, her work explores cloth’s potential as a metaphor for consciousness, carrier of narrative and catalyst for community empathy and cohesion, her research is drawn from artists, practitioners and archival sources. In 2018 she co-founded with Professor Alice Kettle the international conference Textile and Place in collaboration with Curators at the Whitworth Art Gallery. The new biannual conference series is important in terms of foregrounding textiles as a material that connects people globally. Recent research outputs include papers in the special edition of the Routledge journal Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture and a commissioned paper by the Whitworth Art Gallery for the catalogue of their textile exhibition Ancient Textiles from the Andes.

New Glasgow School of Art Director Penny Macbeth image / information from GSA 250220

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