Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has appointed Fiona Francombe as its new principal and chief executive.
Francombe is currently director of Bristol-based film and TV production facility the Bottle Yard Studios. She will begin the role in August, taking over from Paul Rummer, who is retiring after 13 years leading the institution.
Having trained in technical theatre at Rose Bruford College, Francombe began her career in stage management, working for organisations including Manchester’s Royal Exchange and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 1990, Francombe moved into TV, working for organisations including the BBC, before establishing the Bottle Yard Studios in 2010. Titles produced at the studios include Poldark, Wolf Hall and Broadchurch.
Francombe also established on-site classrooms at the studios, where more than 60 16 to 19-year-olds study diplomas in film and TV production and stage and screen production arts.
“BOVTS is a gem of an institution and part of one of the UK’s leading conservatoires,” Francombe said.
“I have always respected and admired its extraordinary reputation for nurturing excellent talent, from my years starting out in theatre stage management, to my subsequent move into television and more recently as visiting guest lecturer for the BOVTS film and TV department.
“I’m very excited to be joining the team, and personally pleased to be bringing my professional career full circle.”
She added: "I have always wanted to make a difference for Bristol. This move will allow me to continue to do so after 10 years developing the Bottle Yard Studios into a competitive film and television hub the city can be proud of."
BOVTS chair of governors Lucy Bowden added: “I am absolutely delighted that Fiona is joining the school and I believe that she will take it forward with passion, energy and confidence.
“This is an unprecedented time, when the pressures on conservatoire training have never been greater. But Fiona brings huge practical and commercial experience in the arts, and this will be invaluable in continuing the school’s success.”
Bowden added: “Fiona has a love for the city of Bristol. Under her leadership, I’m confident that the school will continue to thrive locally, as well as nationally and internationally, consolidating Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s reputation as a world-class institution for drama and production arts training.”