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David Shirley to lead WAAPA into Asia Pacific

Friday, 07 December 2018


David Shirley will be the next Executive Dean of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at ECU.

The appointment is the culmination of a global recruitment campaign to identify the next leader of WAAPA.

Mr Shirley is currently the Director of the Manchester School of Theatre within Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

His previous roles include Head of Drama at MMU and Head of the School of Theatre at Rose Bruford College.

He is also a director and trained actor with numerous film, television and radio credits to his name.

Mr Shirley is the Chair of the Federation of Drama Schools, A Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (FRSA); and Associate Editor of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal.

He holds a Diploma of Acting from The Arts Educational Drama School, a Bachelor of Arts from University of London and a Master of Arts from King’s College London & The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman CBE welcomed the appointment of Mr Shirley.

“David is an outstanding candidate. His experience in developing international partnerships, building research culture and ensuring courses meet industry demand aligns with the ongoing strategic direction of WAAPA,” he said.

“He joins ECU at an exciting time as we seek to transform WAAPA into the leading performing arts academy within the Asia Pacific region and embark on the restoration and housing of our collection of 120 historical pianos.”

Mr Shirley said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading WAAPA from 2019.

“I am truly delighted to have been offered the opportunity to join Edith Cowan University as the Executive Dean of WAAPA,” he said.

“The School has an outstanding reputation for excellence and I feel honoured and privileged to have been invited to lead it through what will prove an extremely exciting and dynamic phase in its development as one of the world’s leading and most prestigious performing arts academies.”

Professor Chapman also recognised the contributions of current WAAPA Executive Dean Professor Julie Warn AM. Professor Warn will retire in early 2019 after 14 years in the role.


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