Board of

Governors 

MAGGIE KILLINGBECK (CHAIR)

Maggie Killingbeck taught dance from primary to higher education. At De Montfort University Bedford (later the University of Bedfordshire) she taught PGCE Dance students, engaged in research, developed masters level dance materials (with distance learning options) and wrote articles/book chapters/conference presentations concerned with dance pedagogy. She provided inset for teachers locally and nationally and showcases for local schools. Maggie has been an external examiner for other University dance courses, has taught and examined GCSE and A Level dance and is an enthusiastic supporter of recreative dance. Maggie teaches older adults in the community, co-develops/delivers inclusive, community projects, performs in local events and teaches movement fundamentals (a virtual prototype is under development). Maggie is a Governor and Trustee of two movement and dance organisations. She has an MPhil from De Montfort University.

 

SAM NEWTON (PRINCIPAL)

 

Sam Newton worked extensively as a performer, choreographer, and teacher in all media of the profession in the UK and throughout the world. Eight Royal Variety Performances, and a prestigious Montrose award in Germany stand out amongst many highlights of her work. A true Conti product, she says, “I am an introvert who has taught myself to be an extrovert. When needed”. She was initially hands-on in setting up the BA Acting course and the Associate Schools before leaving the Academy in 2002 to establish Italia Conti Arts Centre in Guildford as a separate business, originally for teacher training. She became Principal of the Academy in 2016, setting up the BA Musical Theatre course in 2017 for both Italia Conti Arts Centre and the Academy. In addition to the specialist training Italia Conti provides to equip students for the profession, Sam is passionate about ensuring students acquire the most important skills of the 21st century: adaptation, resilience, and re-skilling. Sam feels we are most ‘programmed’ by other people, and by having accountability partners and students we can use that natural tendency to our own benefit, and to set aside time to reflect on our goals and progress.

 

KATHY-ANN DARMODY (CLERK TO THE GOVERNERS / HEAD OF FINANCE)

Kathy-Ann Darmody started her career with Ernst & Young in Trinidad, moving to the UK in 2000. She brings over 20 years of progressive experience in strategic planning, financial control, budgeting and reporting across a wide range of sectors. Kathy joined Italia Conti as Head of Finance in 2020 having previously been Finance Director at Arts Educational Schools since 2009.

 

MICHAEL BERG

Michael Berg has 20 years’ experience in the cultural, entertainment and members club arena. He spent 18 years at h Club taking it from pre-launch to one of the leading enterprises supporting and championing the creative arts sector in London and, most recently, Los Angeles. Prior to h Club, Michael spent 15 years in the creative industry in London managing talent, co-founding Paul Spyker Management representing actors, writers, directors and composers. He also produced a number of fundraising events for Crusaid including Hero Awards with Elton and Liza Minnelli in 2002 & 2003, A World AIDS Day concert with Alison Moyet at The Old Vic and the Annual Heat/Crusaid Charity Auction and ArtAid. Michael has a passion for participation in both cultural development, heritage projects, social mobility and access programs for under-represented young talent. He is a Trustee of Shoreditch Town Hall and has previously sat on the development committee of Mountview Theatre School been a Director of Terrence Higgins Trust. He also served for two years as a member of the Hackney Council Conservation Committee where we were tasked with protecting the heritage of the local area in parallel with its rapid gentrification. In whatever spare time he has, he is avid theatre and cinema goer, visits galleries and museums and is a keen outdoor swimmer!

 

TONY DE VIZIO

Tony de Vizio is a scale-up and transformation professional, having operated across digital, marketing and media production agencies over 25 years. His experience spans large corporates and venture backed disruptive start-ups. He fell in love with the performing arts at an early age and has acted, directed, and produced theatre and short films. He is the Chair of Trustees at the Head2Head Sensory Theatre for children and young adults with special needs. He grew up in Woking, so knows Italia Conti’s new home well. He holds a BA in Economics from Durham University. He is married with three children.

 

CHRIS LOWETH

Chris Loweth is a media and entertainment barrister and head of legal and business affairs at BBC Global News, the BBC's international news commercial subsidiary.  He has over two decades' experience advising on legal and business affairs matters affecting the broadcast, production, and live events industries. Before joining the BBC he advised on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was Head of Content Legal Advice at Channel 5, and worked for a number of production companies and TV broadcasters.  He is an elected barrister member of the Lincoln's Inn Bar Representation Committee and is currently leading a review of the Inn's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Action Plan. He has been a member of BAFTA since 2003 and is Chair of a residential property management company.  He lives with his husband in north London and is an avid fan of theatre, film and the performing arts.

 

ANDREW SHEPHERD

Andrew Shepherd is the Executive Director of Theatre503, with an expertise in fundraising, business development and communications. He originally trained as an actor at LAMDA after completing a law degree at Newcastle University. He spent five years as a fundraiser in the charity sector and was the Development Manager of Young Actors Theatre Islington prior to joining Theatre503 in early 2016. He has extensive freelance producing experience through his theatre and film companies, including the feature film Showreel, which he also co-wrote. His plays have been performed around the world and directing credits include work at Park Theatre and Jermyn Street Theatre.

 

ANNE SHEWARD

Anne Sheward trained at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts as a performer and was fortunate to play various leading roles, primarily in television dramas and series, before switching to the administrative side of the profession. She started working as Ruth Conti’s assistant in the mid-1960s, progressing to a variety of general office duties and to successfully running the Agency, eventually handing it over to her sister, Gaynor when she became Vice-Principal in the early 1980s. In over 20 years as Academy Principal, she was responsible for both the artistic and administrative running of all full-time and part-time courses and employment of staff as well as overseeing the Associate schools. She was responsible for the selection of all the Academy’s pupils and students and their curriculum and introduced numerous new Diploma and Degree courses in musical theatre, acting, dance and singing, working with all the recognised educational bodies and numerous universities. She fought for grants so that talented students had the opportunity to train. She promoted student professional development by ensuring they were given as many performance opportunities as possible, ranging from TIE tours in collaboration with The Complete Works company to showcases at West End and regional theatres as well as the Academy’s own Avondale Theatre. Throughout her tenure, she advocated an ‘open door’ policy for staff and students. Having retired as Principal in 2016, she still retains her Directorship and has an avid interest in all things Conti.

 

GAYNOR SHEWARD

Gaynor Sheward trained at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and has worked across all media of the profession, from commercials directed by Ridley Scott, to West End plays starring Sir Ralph Richardson. She has appeared in numerous West End Theatres including Drury Lane, The London Palladium, Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Strand and played leading roles in many TV productions including Only Fools and Horses, Out of Bounds, ITV Playhouseand Grange Hill. Her first love was always music and she has worked with a wide range of producers including Mike Batt, Micky Most, and Henry Mancin, and has sung backing vocals on various records and soundtracks. In the 1980s, she took on the leadership of SCA Management where she started the careers of artists including Martine McCutcheon, Gabrielle Anwar, Kelly Brook and Derek Hough. In more recent years the agency has broadened out to representing adults.

 

BEV THOMAS

Bev Thomas has been associated with Italia Conti for over 50 years. After returning from 7 productive years working in Community Television in Canada, she was the first to introduce Film & Television Production into the curriculum and developed ‘acting for camera’ courses for both the performing arts and acting degree students. She became the School’s first Designated Safeguarding Lead and was instrumental in setting up the student welfare provision and the health and safety procedures at Italia Conti. She has a strong interest in child psychology and has diplomas in child counselling and mental health awareness.

 

EDITH WOI

Edith Woi is the founder of Travel by Pen Productions (TBP), a social enterprise film, music and digital media production company. TBP aims to help artists and talent from diverse backgrounds through upskilling, training and mentoring.  She was previously a financial services consultant at a Swiss law firm. After attending Kings College London, she worked as a consultant for local government providing economic regeneration strategies. In her spare time, she is an award-winning screenwriter with several projects in development. In 2019, she was asked to be an external representative on the Arts Advisory & Review Committee for the South Hill Park Arts Centre.

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ACTING

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