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Meet The team

Clare Cornwell

Interim General Manager

Clare has lived in Blackheath for 10 years with her husband James, a barrister. They have two young daughters who are at school locally, and Clare’s parents have moved to Blackheath as well. So they feel very much part of the community here on all generational levels, and are committed to making the Conservatoire a fantastic place where everyone can enjoy high quality art, music and drama. Clare has always enjoyed singing in choirs but is otherwise an avid consumer of other people’s artistic and musical output. She has always been enthusiastic about conserving and keeping historic buildings in use,therefore, and chose to read History at university. Her career has been in the public sector, first in the Medical Research Council, and then being accepted onto the Civil Service Fast Stream. Over twenty years’ work in central government has centred around the environment, but a secondment to the European Commission in Brussels, and a fascinating year as a Private Secretary to the PM at No 10 have widened her experience.

Clare has spent her career as a Senior Civil Servant leading teams on subjects such as Food Waste prevention, recovery from the 2013/14 Winter floods in England, and Adapting to Climate Change. She set up the leading Adaptation Programme in the developed world, working across all sectors to embed an understanding of the risks a changing climate poses to the economy, society and the environment. The teams she led won awards for innovation, cross-sector working and partnership. Clare has been particularly interested in the development of flexible working in the civil service, having established the first two successful senior job-shares in Defra, and championing jobsharing across Whitehall.

Clare has now taken redundancy from the Civil Service, and has the opportunity to have more involvement in the local community. She spent some time volunteering with a social enterprise in Lewisham. She is now Vice-Chair of BCER, the Blackheath Cator Estate Residents committee, and has taken on a new project in the form of a rescued, traumatised but gorgeous Spanish hunting dog who needs to be helped to trust human beings and discover the joys of life.

Clare became closely involved with the Conservatoire during the Save the Con fundraising campaign, personally raising £8,000 for the organisation through a variety of fundraising activities. She has dragged her family into playing a very hands-on role at the Conservatoire over the past few years, whether painting beach huts and raking tonnes of sand for The Beach, expeditions to DIY stores for materials for events, late night production of ice walls for The Elf Academy, or trying to tame the front garden for the planting of sunflowers.

Clare joined the Board that took responsibility for the Conservatoire in June 2015. She has now been asked by the Board to take on the temporary post of interim Managing Director of the Conservatoire to provide leadership for the organisation in the period before the recruitment of a new permanent CEO for the next academic year. She is leaving the Board in order to do this, to ensure clear governance arrangements. She is delighted to be able to use her management, strategic and policy experience in a hands on way for the benefit of the Conservatoire.

On a desert island: I would take Persuasion by Jane Austen, Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia, gallons of Factor 50 sun cream and a very well stocked wine cellar.

t: 020 8852 0234


e: clare.cornwell@conservatoire.org.uk

"On a desert island I would take Persuasion by Jane Austen, Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, gallons of Factor 50 sun cream and a very well stocked wine cellar."