New trustees join the board of New Writing North as it develops plans for a centre for writing in Newcastle

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New Writing North welcomes six new board members from publishing and industry to help it move forward with plans to establish a centre for writing and publishing in Newcastle upon Tyne. The new members bring skills in capital development, publishing, communications and legal to enhance the skillset of the existing board of industry professionals, writers and arts industry specialists.


Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, said: “Although the pandemic has inevitably slowed our progress on our capital development plans, we are continuing to explore sites in the city and to develop new partnerships. The new centre will be part of our resilience plan for the future and feels more necessary rather than less, upheld by the strong civic and educational mission for the project and our aim to create a place where communities of interest can come together for the greater good. Our new trustees bring with them the experience, knowledge and ambition to help us build our plans and their commitment in supporting us is a fantastic endorsement of the idea.”


The new appointments are as follows:


Mary Cannam is the Chief Operating Officer at Faber and Faber. She has been at Faber since 2003 and was Finance and Commercial Director before being promoted to COO in 2019. Prior to working at Faber and Faber she worked at Waterstones, including as Branch Manager for the Dundee and James Street, London, branches, and later at HarperCollins.


Clare Harington was Communications Director of the publishing group Hachette UK for 12 years until she stepped down at the end of 2019. Over a lifelong career in publishing, Clare has held a number of senior roles including Marketing Director of Penguin, Publisher of Pan Books and Group Communications Director of Random House.


Sara Lloyd is Communications Director for the publisher Pan Macmillan. She has played a key role in transforming many publishing businesses from print to digital, driving and delivering cultural as well as structural and process change. She was named Futurebook Leader of the Year in 2016, and is one of the ‘Futurebook 40’, a list of the top 40 innovators across the publishing industry, published for the first time in 2018.


Mark Dobson is an independent cultural consultant / adviser based in Manchester. He has senior executive level experience across the arts, festivals and heritage, including previous roles as Executive Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre and Chief Executive Officer at Tyneside Cinema.


John Seager is a qualified chartered surveyor with over 25 years’ experience in developing, investing and managing all sectors of property. He moved to the North East of England in 2001 and has worked at director and CEO level for private and public sector companies and regeneration partnerships.


Julie Boakes is a qualified solicitor with over 14 years’ experience of working in the legal profession, specialising in construction and engineering law. In her current role as Regional Head of Construction (North) at the Department for Education, she provides legal, commercial and contractual expertise to support the delivery of multi-million pound capital works projects across the North West and Midlands.


David Roche, chair of New Writing North’s board of trustees, said: 

“The quality of the candidates that New Writing North is able to attract is testament to its recognised position as central to the publishing industry as well as a major player in the North East cultural sector. Together these new trustees bring new, necessary and complementary skills, and strengthen the board as we continue to ramp up our exciting and ambitious plans for a centre for writing and publishing in Newcastle. I look forward to working with such great additions to a wonderful team.”


New Writing North is the writing and reading development agency for the North of England, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, from where it has produced nationally significant work since 1996. David Roche, chair of the board, and Claire Malcolm, founding chief executive, lead a team of 13 staff and 14 board members.


For more information about all the staff and trustees of New Writing North, see