New Principal, Abigail Appleton

New Principal, Abigail Appleton

Hereford College of Arts (HCA) has welcomed its new Principal, Abigail Appleton, who has joined the College from a long career with the BBC.

Abigail started her career at the BBC as a production trainee, assigned first to Radio 1, working her way up to becoming Creative Director of BBC Learning, where she oversaw the launch of the BBC’s most ambitious education campaign in a generation; working with 28 partners to inspire a new generation to be digitally creative by making a million BBC micro:bits, a pocket-sized computer, to be given free to every child in year 7 next year.

It’s her work and leadership on projects like this that Abigail believes will stand her in good stead to take the College into the next chapter. She says: “I have seen in many different contexts how learning can transform lives at every stage of life and I know that I am joining a body – staff and students – that is passionate, talented and ambitious for transformative education in the arts, and already achieving this. I am here to help this college grow even more successful, to become nationally and internationally recognised as a place of extraordinary creativity and opportunity.  I believe specialist arts education is of greater importance than ever in supporting and contributing to individual self-expression, shared culture and, vitally, the UK’s creative economy.”

The UK is a creative nation and we have a rich culture and global reputation for our creativity, originality and entrepreneurial flair. The creative industries are a real success story for the UK, providing 2.8 million jobs – 1 in 11 jobs in the UK – and generating an estimated value of £77billion in 2014 (£8.8million per hour).  Excellent quality in arts education is critical in feeding this success.

Hereford College of Arts has a special status on a national level as being one of the remaining art colleges in the UK to offer a dedicated arts-based curriculum to students as young as 16, right through to undergraduate and postgraduate level. It attracts students from across the UK and Europe, and as far away as America and Japan.

The College offers college-level courses in Art & Design, Performing Arts and Music, and a growing offering of Degree and Masters Courses; including the only BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing course in the country, Contemporary Design Crafts, Fine Art, Illustration and Animation, Jewellery Design, Graphic and Media Design, Photography and Film Making, Popular Music and Textile Design.

“We have big ambitions to keep developing what we do here at HCA, particularly our university-level provision, and to build on creative partnerships with local and national organisations,” says Abigail. “In our ever changing education and employment landscape, there are challenges as well as opportunities ahead, but these are exciting times for the college and for the city of Hereford.”

Abigail has taken over from former Principal Richard Heatly, who recently retired after twelve years at the helm.

For more information about Hereford College of Arts, visit

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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