New Wolsey Chief Executive to Receive Honorary Doctorate from the University of Suffolk

28 Aug 2019 News

The University of Suffolk has announced who will be receiving honorary awards at graduation ceremonies in October, including the New Wolsey’s Chief Executive, Sarah Holmes.

Honorary awards recognise notable contributions to the educational or cultural well-being of society, in business, industry, commerce or enterprise, for academic distinction, for public or community service or an exceptional contribution to the University.

Seven individuals will receive awards including internationally-acclaimed performers, those in performing arts, the charity sector and one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry.

For the past 19 years, Sarah Holmes has been the Chief Executive of the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich.  Sarah will be recognised for her contribution to the Arts by being awarded an honorary doctorate.

Sarah began her career in her native New Zealand at Downstage Theatre, Wellington before moving to the UK in 1980 seeking further opportunities in the British theatre industry. She has worked in every aspect of theatre management – as a stage manager, production manager, administrator, head of marketing and general manager – in a career that has taken her from London to North Wales and on tour up and down the country.

Since becoming the Chief Executive of the New Wolsey Theatre in 2000, Sarah has been curating a programme combining the highest quality touring and home-grown work in a theatre designed to be appealing and accessible to all. In recognition of the breadth and success of this work Sarah was one of the few regional producers to be named in The Stage’s Top 100 list of the most influential figures in British Theatre.

She said, “As someone who never undertook higher education, I am particularly thrilled to be awarded with an honorary doctorate – at last I get a picture of me in gown and mortar board along with the rest of my family! I believe this delightful honour is a recognition of the close ties between the University and the New Wolsey Theatre, but also of the importance of arts and culture in a full and rounded education. At a time when the position of the creative arts within the core curricula is under increasing threat, or disappearing altogether, such recognition is extremely welcome.  A.I. is here and the robots are coming, but they won’t be able to paint, write songs, make plays or dance like we can. Soon it will be our creativity on all fronts that sets us apart from the artificially intelligent, and nurturing imagination and creativity must be at the heart of any successful education system.”

Other honorary award recipients include Ipswich- born singer, songwriter and producer Nik Kershaw, West-end star Kerry Ellis, Ian Livingstone CBE, one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry, Fred Langford will be recognised for his work at the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Fellow charity worker, Rebecca Crerar, will be recognised for her work as Suffolk Refugee Support Manager.

The honorary awards will be presented during graduation ceremonies celebrating the successes of students from the University being held across Suffolk between 4 -17 October 2019.