Aardman Animations, the award-winning UK studio, has announced that Sean Clarke will succeed David Sproxton as Managing Director.
Aardman Animations is pleased to announce the successor to David Sproxton, who has been leading the organisation for 43 years and is now stepping back from the role of Managing Director. The new MD will be Sean Clarke, who has been with Aardman for over 20 years. Most recently, Clarke has been the head of the International Rights and Marketing department, a role he has held for more than ten years.
Aardman is a household name, known around the world for favourite characters such as Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph. The studio was co-founded by Sproxton and Peter Lord in 1976. the company transitioned into Employee Ownership In November 2018, it transitioned into Employee ownership.
The best candidate
Sproxton says: “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 a 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.
Global marketplace expertise
Peter Lord, the co-founder and Creative Director of Aardman, says: “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.”
A strong track record
Clarke started working at Aardman in 1998, where he began as Head of Consumer Products. Previous to this, he served as the UK Licensing Director for Disney Consumer Products for many years. Since 2008, he has been the Head of Rights & Brand Development for Aardman. In this role, he was responsible for global brand development and distribution of Aardman and third-party rights across all platforms.
He also played a key role in developing Aardman’s rights team. Clarke was instrumental in the launch of the studio’s YouTube channels, as well as the studio diversifying into new areas of immersive storytelling.
Clarke says: “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.”
The studio is launching a 4D immersive experience with brand new characters at Efteling: World of Wonders in the Netherlands. This is Aardman’s first major piece of original content for the theme park market and will open in November. It has also recently debuted two new dark ride concepts, Adventure Through Time and Shaun The Sheep: Farmageddon, with Sally Dark Rides at IAAPA Expo Europe 2019 in Paris. The former is a new Aardman intellectual property (IP), and will feature an original storyline.