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28th November, 2022

Sonia Friedman OBE Announced as the new President of Central


Central is excited to announce that it has appointed graduate and acclaimed producer Sonia Friedman OBE as its new President. 

The announcement follows the news in October that Michael Grandage CBE would be stepping down as President of Central after 12 years in post. 

During a private event in his honour on 16 November at which members of the Central community thanked him for his years of dedication to the School, Michael Grandage announced that his friend and fellow Central graduate Sonia Friedman would succeed him as President. 

Sonia Friedman OBE graduated from Central in 1985 where she studied stage management on the School’s Tech course.  She was made an Honorary Fellow of the School in 2014 alongside her sister Maria Friedman. As a multi award-winning West End and Broadway Producer, Sonia Friedman has been responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in London and New York.  She has been awarded ‘Producer of the Year’ at the Stage Awards a record-breaking four times, was the first solo woman and non-owner/operator of a West End Theatre to take the number one spot on The Stage 100 list, and she was named in the 2018 TIME 100 list, Time Magazine’s compilation of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

Of her appointment, Central’s President Sonia Friedman OBE said: 

“Whatever their discipline, artists, actors and arts practitioners need a space to grow – somewhere to start to understand themselves, their craft and, crucially, the world around them. It is in these spaces that we begin working out the ways in which we might contribute to, comment on and change society for the better. For me, that place was Central – a safe space for big adventures. It all started there. 

The last few years have made it abundantly clear that there is no society without culture. Live theatre, in all its many forms, is at the very heart of that. Nowhere knows that better than Central. I am honoured to be coming home at this point in my working life, and to be succeeding my wonderful colleague, Michael Grandage. 

As President, I want this wonderful, forward-thinking school to be that place of personal and professional growth – of risk, empathy, creativity and compassion – for a diverse new generation of theatrical talent. I will be proud to see students expand their horizons during their time at Central and I hope to do the same alongside them, as they will shape the future of both our industry and our art-form. I can’t wait to join them on that exciting, inspiring journey.” 

Central’s outgoing President Michael Grandage CBE said: 

“Sonia’s appointment will ensure Central’s new President will continue to be connected to the DNA of the organisation. As a graduate of Royal Central, she has stayed in touch with the school as it has developed alongside her own career. She is a fierce advocate for the industry she serves and so all future students will benefit from her energy and ambition as Central moves into the next and exciting stage of its evolution.” 

John Willis, Chair of Central’s Governing Body said: 

“We are thrilled that Sonia Friedman, one of Central’s most distinguished graduates, has agreed to become our new President. She not only brings with her deep experience as a world-leading international producer, but her passion and commitment for emerging talent and their training shines through and will be of enormous value to the next generation of our students.” 

Principal Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE said: 

“Central is delighted to welcome Sonia Friedman, one of the world’s most dynamic practitioners and a Central graduate, as our new President.  The way she impacts our industry has a lifelong and extensive reach.  We are so excited to have her with us.  Welcome home, Sonia! 

We also take this opportunity to thank Michael Grandage for his extraordinary commitment and love for Central over the years.  I have enjoyed my time with him and look forward to our continued relationship whilst wishing Michael all the best in his future career.”

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