Michael Plaut OBE announced as new Chair of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Michael Plaut OBE has been appointed Chair of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, taking over from John Derrick who steps down after fulfilling his full term this summer.

Formerly Chair of CBI Wales, Michael is a Welsh business leader and passionate arts supporter with wide-ranging global experience. He is influential in shaping public policy and his business advice is sought after by governments in both Westminster and Cardiff. With extensive knowledge of commercial and non-profit organisations, he started his career as an investment banker in London before returning to Wales to run a business. By invitation of the Secretary of State for Wales, he chaired Building a More Prosperous Wales, a report for the UK Government on the Welsh economy, and has an OBE for services to business and entrepreneurship.

He is also joined on the Board by two newly appointed Directors, Sarah Alexander and Helen Sanderson who both take up their roles in August. They follow the appointments of April Koyejo-Audiger, Ian Lewis, Tianyi Lu, David Ruebain and Nitin Sawhney CBE as Board members in January this year.

As Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra, Sarah Alexander OBE has grown the institution from working with 164 young people to one that reaches 10,000 teenagers, opening access to young people from all backgrounds. It is now widely celebrated as the world’s greatest orchestra for teenagers. Sarah spent many years in Wales leading the education department at Welsh National Opera and has won prestigious awards from the Association of British Orchestras and the Royal Philharmonic Society among others. Sarah became an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2022.

Helen Sanderson joins as the Board representative elected by RWCMD colleagues. A performer, educator, arranger, composer and creative entrepreneur she is Head of Guitar Performance at the College. With an international performing career centred on chamber music, she founded the music education charity, Guitar Circus, home of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble, and the World Youth Guitar Festival of which she is Artistic Director.


‘The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama has a clear and compelling vision for its future, and a powerful ethos of empowering excellence. As a creative industries powerhouse, Wales – small but mighty – is an international magnet with immense natural resources of talent.

I believe this is an organisation with the potential to truly make change, to transform lives and connect communities, and I am looking forward to leading it into its 75th birthday year and beyond.’ – Michael Plaut OBE – New Chair, RWCMD

‘I am delighted after six years to be passing on the role of Chair to Michael Plaut, who is well placed to capitalise on the significant opportunity that the College has to expand and grow its world-class education and the arts from Wales.

This is an exciting new chapter with a major new building in Cardiff to develop, and Michael is well placed given his experience at the CBI and in business to assist with the next stage of growth, embracing the inclusivity and focus on life-long learning that the Conservatoire embodies.

Sarah Alexander and Helen Sanderson will further reinforce the depth and experience of this first class and experienced board to work under Helena’s leadership to be ambitious and reach new heights.’ – John Derrick – Outgoing Chair, RWCMD

‘As we count down to our 75th birthday in 2024, I’m very much looking forward to working with Michael and the whole RWCMD Board. These new appointments will stretch and challenge us in exciting new ways.

Michael brings a strategic, global view along with a sharp focus on creating meaningful change for Wales as a nation. Sarah and Helen will each add fresh and dynamic artistic and educational perspectives.

As we say goodbye to John Derrick in his role as Chair, we extend our heartfelt thanks to him for steering us so well through these past six years, and I look forward to the next chapter when we know that he will stay close to us.’ – Helena Gaunt – Principal, RWCMD


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