Known as a champion of diversification, mental health training and innovative learning, McNamara has been Chair of the Federation of Drama Schools and was a founding member of the Alliance of Musical Theatre Conservatoires. At the Guildford School of Acting he developed an online learning provision and oversaw the introduction of the BA Actor Musician and MFA in Acting and Musical Theatre. He also introduced training for personal tutors in Mental Health First Aid and established a fund for the learning, development and scholarship of academic staff.
McNamara takes over the role at LIPA from Mark Featherstone-Whitty, who founded the institute with Sir Paul McCartney and admits surrendering the role is a wrench. ‘As Founder, LIPA is one of my children and giving it up is difficult, which is why there’s a gentle transition. I’m grateful Sean is allowing me to do this and so comfortable about handing over the reins to a trusted colleague.
Featherstone-Whitty has come to know McNamara over a number of years, so he knew he had chosen the right person for the job.
‘He was the first chair of the FDS who took it upon himself to visit us, I’ve seen him at work during FDS meetings and have got to know him better more recently. He shares our values and approach to teaching and learning. I’m positive we have got the right person for the job. I’m happy and relieved that he’s agreed to join us.’
McNamara considers the new job as ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’. ‘The work that Mark has done, along with Paul McCartney, in establishing this creative hub in Liverpool with a national and international reputation for excellence and to achieve that in just 25 years, is phenomenal,’ he said. ‘To be part of that story, part of LIPA’s next chapter is a great honour, privilege and responsibility.’
Sean McNamara will take up the position at the beginning of September and Mark Featherstone-Whitty will continue to oversee the expansion of LIPA’s reach across primary, secondary and higher education.