Award Winning Animation Studio AARDMAN Announces Sean Clarke as first New MD in 43 years Taking Over from Co-Founder David Sproxton
CLARKE HAS HEADED THE STUDIO’S INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS AND MARKETING DEPARTMENT FOR OVER A DECADE
Aardman, the multi-award-winning, independent animation studio, has today (Thursday 19th September) announced the successor to David Sproxton, who is stepping back from the MD role after 43 years at the helm of the organisation.
The role is to be taken up by Sean Clarke, who has been at the company for over 20 years and headed up the International Rights and Marketing department for over a decade.
Famous worldwide for its unique and entertaining productions, Aardman is home to much-loved characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph – as well as being the creative powerhouse behind dynamic and cutting-edge content for advertising partners, digital platforms, games developers and immersive entertainment experiences for a global audience. Co-founded by Peter Lord and David Sproxton in 1976, the company transitioned into Employee Ownership in November 2018 in order to secure its creative and cultural legacy for decades to come.
David Sproxton, co-founder of Aardman, commented “We were determined to find the best possible candidate for the role, which is critical for securing the studio’s future especially in its Employee Owned incarnation. I am delighted that Sean cut through very strong competition to take my place. He has a deep understanding of the creative culture at Aardman - which will ensure continuity - in addition to a very strong, clear and exciting strategy to take the company forward, so it will certainly not be resting on its laurels. There are wonderful projects on the slate with new creative talent behind them and the future looks very bright. I am more than confident that with Sean leading the Executive Board the company will thrive.”
Sproxton will continue his connection with the studio by sitting on the Trustee Board as well as applying his decades of film-making experience to a number of projects as a consultant.
Peter Lord, co-founder and Creative Director of Aardman, added “I’m absolutely delighted that Sean Clarke is going to continue his wonderful work at Aardman, following in the footsteps of Dave Sproxton, my long-term partner and co-founder. In a rich world of new opportunities, Sean takes the helm of a dynamic, creatively-led company in a very strong position. Not content to rely on our considerable heritage, we are pioneering a slate of the best in animation entertainment and Sean is the perfect candidate to handle its rich diversity and lead us on to ever-greater things. Most importantly, along with his expertise in the global marketplace, he brings a deep understanding of the legacy and culture of Aardman. Sean will thrive on the challenge and excitement of leading a company, which is not only dedicated to creativity but also Employee Owned by its incredibly motivated workforce.”
Sean Clarke joined Aardman as Head of Consumer Products in 1998, after several years as UK Licensing Director for Disney Consumer Products. In 2008, he became Head of Rights & Brand Development, responsible for global brand development and distribution of Aardman and third-party rights across all platforms: film, TV, DVD & digital, merchandising & licensing, and themed attractions and live events. He was instrumental in developing Aardman’s rights team, which now includes 30 people and works across 170 territories worldwide; the launch of the studio’s YouTube channels, which currently exceed 1.2 billion views annually; and the studio diversifying into new areas of immersive storytelling, including its first Shaun the Sheep Land which opened in Sweden in 2015.
Sean Clarke, Aardman’s new MD, commented “It’s an honour to be taking on the MD role and a privilege to be leading Aardman in this exciting new era of Employee Ownership. The studio’s strength has always been in its visionary creativity and storytelling expertise which, combined, mean that we are able to adapt to new platforms and changes in the way we consume entertainment whilst delivering consistently inspiring, funny and engaging animation. Ensuring that our independent spirit and our unique blend of innovation and integrity remain at the heart of everything we do – while nurturing and supporting sensational new creatives alongside our existing roster of incredible talent – will be a guiding principle.”
Aardman has a number of new projects about to launch, including its latest film, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, which is distributed by StudioCanal and opening in UK cinemas on Friday 18th October. The studio’s first major piece of original content for the theme park market, a 4D immersive experience with brand new characters, will open at Efteling: World of Wonders in the Netherlands at the end of November.
Aardman, based in Bristol (UK) and co-founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, is an independent and multi-award-winning studio. It produces feature films, series, advertising, games and interactive entertainment - such as the ‘visually astonishing’ (Guardian), BAFTA nominated console game, 11-11: Memories Retold, and the four-times Gold Cannes Lions-winning StorySign app - and innovative attractions for both the domestic and international market, including a new 4D theatre attraction at Efteling in the Netherlands. Its productions are global in appeal, novel, entertaining, brilliantly characterised and full of charm reflecting the unique talent, energy and personal commitment of the Aardman team. The studio’s work – which includes the creation of much-loved characters including Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph – is often imitated, and yet the company continues to lead the field producing a rare brand of visually stunning content for cinema, broadcasters, digital platforms and live experiences around the world. In November 2018 it became an Employee Owned Organisation, to ensure Aardman remains independent and to secure the creative legacy and culture of the company for many decades to come.
About Aardman’s Executive Board of Directors
On transferring into Employee Ownership in November 2018, Aardman created a new Executive Board of Directors. The Board now consists of: Sean Clarke (Managing Director), Peter Lord (Co-Founder and Creative Director), Nick Park (Director, animator, writer), Carla Shelley (Executive Director, Feature Production), Heather Wright (Executive Director, Partner Content), Kerry Lock (Finance Director), Paula Newport (Director, People & Culture) and Sarah Cox (Executive Creative Director - Intellectual Property Development). The Executive Board of Directors reports to the Board of Trustees, whose role is to ensure the Executive Board is staying true to the core values of the organisation and acting in the interest of its workforce.