Exciting News and Farewell: Changes in Leadership at the RWA

Exciting News and Farewell: Changes in Leadership at the RWA

Celebrating Alison Bevan's Remarkable Tenure as Director of the RWA

The RWA bids a fond farewell to its Director, Alison Bevan, as she concludes her tenure at the end of June 2024.

Alison assumed leadership of the RWA in 2013, and under her guidance, this historic organisation has been truly transformed. At serious risk of closure a decade ago, today the RWA boasts a thriving, engaged audience, inspiring exhibitions, outstanding facilities, and a strong outreach programme.

Throughout her time as Director, Alison has championed emerging and established artists alike, elevating the RWA's profile as a place of artistic inspiration for everyone. Her proudest accomplishment has been to help enhance the organisation's commitment to diversity and inclusivity, aiming to establish an environment where all artists and audiences feel appreciated and included.

In recent years, she has guided the RWA through its biggest physical change in over a century, shaping and then fundraising to deliver the Light and Inspiration project, which saw the transformation of the Grade II* landmark building into a beautifully restored, fully accessible space.

She says, "I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to be at the helm of this extraordinary organisation through this period of change and want to pay tribute to the amazing team of colleagues, volunteers, and stakeholders who have made it all happen, and to the generosity of the RWA's Patrons, Friends, benefactors, and funders who have provided essential support. I'm excited for the RWA's future under its brilliant new Director, Ren Renwick, and Chair of Trustees, George Ferguson CBE PPRIBA RWA, and look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength."

As the RWA enters a new chapter, we are delighted to introduce two remarkable individuals who will shape its future: Ren Renwick and George Ferguson.

Welcoming our new Director - Ren (Helen) Renwick

The RWA is thrilled to announce the appointment of Helen Renwick, known as Ren, as its new Director. Ren will officially assume her role in mid-July, bringing with her a wealth of experience and a passion for the arts.

Ren’s leadership style, characterised by approachability and boundless energy, was evident throughout the recruitment process. Her belief in the transformative power of the arts resonated deeply with the selection committee, making her an ideal fit for the RWA. Ren is driven by the conviction that art has the capacity to empower, connect, and enrich individuals and communities, aligning perfectly with the RWA's mission.

With an impressive background as a Charity CEO and extensive experience in both the subsidised and commercial sectors of the arts, Ren brings a unique perspective to her new role. Her previous roles include leading an Arts Service for a London Local Authority, serving as Chief Executive of The Association of Illustrators, and contributing her talents to organisations in Melbourne, Australia. Additionally, Ren has lent her expertise to corporations such as the BBC and has served as a trustee for multiple arts organisations.

Ren currently serves as a Board member of the Bristol Museums Development Trust. Her affinity for the city's cultural landscape, coupled with her longstanding admiration for the RWA, positions her as the ideal person to help continue its growth and success.

Outgoing Director Alison Bevan, expressed utmost confidence in Ren’s abilities, stating, “I couldn’t be happier to hand over to someone so brilliant.”

New Chair of Trustees - George Ferguson CBE PPRIBA RWA

The RWA warmly welcomes George Ferguson CBE as the new Chair of Trustees. With a distinguished career in urban design, architecture, and public service, George brings a wealth of experience and a deep passion for the arts to this pivotal role.

His extensive background includes serving as President of the RIBA, and later as the first elected Mayor of Bristol from 2012 to 2016, during which time he championed many cultural and environmental initiatives. As an architect and RWA Academician, George has a long-standing relationship with the RWA.

In his capacity as Chair of Trustees, George will provide strategic leadership and guidance to the RWA, ensuring its continued growth and relevance in the contemporary art world.

Commenting on his appointment, George Ferguson stated, "I am deeply honoured to join the Royal West of England Academy as Chair of Trustees. The RWA holds a very special place in Bristol's cultural landscape and has been ever present in my life. I very much look forward to collaborating with the board, staff, and artists to further its mission of fostering creativity and enriching lives through the visual arts. Together, we shall build on the great work that has been done over the last few years and continue to strengthen the RWA's position as a leading cultural institution in the South West and beyond."