Bath Spa University vice-chancellor to take over as chair of historic Bristol music venue

March 27, 2024

Prof Sue Rigby, vice-chancellor of Bath Spa University, has been appointed as the new chair of iconic Bristol concert venue St George’s.

Sue, pictured, who has been the university’s vice-chancellor since 2018, will take over from Bristol-based tech entrepreneur Ben Heald, who steps down after six years in the role this summer.

She previously held senior posts at the universities of Lincoln and Edinburgh before joining Bath Spa.

Passionate about the arts, her academic background lies in palaeontology, having been in roles at Cambridge, Leicester and Edinburgh universities.

She is also an executive member of the MillionPlus, the group representing the UK’s modern universities, a trustee board member at higher education mental health organisation Student Minds and is acting chair of the QAA Credit Framework Group.

Ben Heald, founder of Bristol-based digital media company Sift, took over as chair of the historic 580-seat live music venue, pictured, in 2018 as it embarked on a transformative £6.3m extension and refurbishment.

A keen amateur pianist and violinist, he had been a trustee since 2013. Sue will take over as the new chair when he steps down in June.

Sue Rigby described St George’s as a unique music and performance venue that could only exist and thrive in Bristol and the West of England.

“I am so honoured to be taking over as chair of trustees and look forward to supporting Samir with his vision for this wonderful organisation and its inspiring spaces,” she added.

St George’s Bristol chief executive Samir Savant said: “I want to pay personal tribute to Ben and his amazing leadership as chair.

“Since joining St George’s in late 2021, I have valued Ben’s vital guidance and insights, and the expert support he gave the organisation through the challenges of the pandemic.

“We have a reinvigorated board of trustees and look to the future with confidence. I am excited that Sue Rigby will be our new chair, bringing experience from many different roles, particularly in the field of higher education, where we are keen to develop our work with existing and new partners in the region.”

Ben Heald said it had been “thrilling to be involved with such an inspiring venue”, adding: “It lifts the spirit every time I attend something there. 

“[Previous CEO] Suzanne Rolt and Samir Savant have both been wonderful chief executives to work with; then there’s the trustees, the leadership team, the staff and volunteers, all of whom I’ve had the privilege of supporting.

“Sue will bring her own energy and freshness to the role. I wish her, the new St George’s board, the wider staff team and indeed the whole organisation the very best for the future.”

This change in board leadership follows St George’s Bristol’s 200th anniversary celebrations last year and coincides with a number of other initiatives, including Sing for Happiness, a ground-breaking project with UWE Bristol researching the links between singing and wellbeing and which is currently seeking up to 500 local participants.

The venue hosts 300-plus performances, talks, workshops and events each year, engaging with more than 100,000 people.

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across the Bath area for just £75 a month. Email for more information.