Artistic Director Jude Kelly to leave Southbank Centre

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 12:43

After 12 years as our Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE today announced that she will be leaving her current role in order to focus on leading the global development of Women of the World festival.

Jude joined Southbank Centre in 2006 shortly before the unveiling of the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall and since then her bold programming has been driven by a belief that great art should be available to all, regardless of background. Through her artistic vision, Jude sought to bring people and communities together and as a result Southbank Centre has been transformed into a place that is open and welcoming for young and old alike and from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Having formed a core artistic team of some of the most respected programmers and curators in the UK, Jude has overseen an eclectic and diverse programme, including a range of regular annual festivals such as Alchemy (celebrating the art and culture of South Asia), Africa Utopia (celebrating the art of the African continent), Imagine Children’s Festival and BAM – Being a Man.

It is difficult to imagine a more stimulating and enjoyable time than the twelve years I’ve spent here – and I shall miss it terribly. With the Southbank Centre in excellent hands, now is the perfect time for me to move on.
Jude Kelly CBE, outgoing Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

One of Jude’s most significant achievements has been the founding, in 2010, of the WOW – Women of the World festivals, which have now become a global movement. WOW celebrates the history and potential of girls and women in all fields of life and highlights the obstacles that prevent gender equality from being achieved. To date, there have been over 42 WOW’s in 23 countries across six continents, and, through the new organisation she is launching, Jude will present WOW worldwide.

WOW is now both intensely challenging and rewarding, with a terrific future ahead. As well as turning WOW into a global movement I shall be developing new artistic projects that arise from the core WOW idea. It is a very exciting time!
Jude Kelly CBE, outgoing Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

Jude was awarded a CBE in 2015 for services to the arts and has received a remarkable 17 honorary doctorates in recognition of her work around cultural access. She was also bestowed the title of Knighthood of the Order of Dannebrog by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for promoting Danish culture via the recent Nordic Matters festival.

Jude leaves a strong legacy for us to celebrate and build upon and I thank her for the artistic drive and passion she has brought to Southbank Centre
Elaine Bedell​, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre​

Plans for Jude’s succession will be announced in due course. Until then our artistic programme will continue to be developed by the senior team including Chief Executive Elaine Bedell, Director of Music Gillian Moore, and Director of the Hayward Gallery Ralph Rugoff.

This year’s WOW - Women of the World festival takes place at Southbank Centre on 7-11 March, 2018.

further information

shop WOW

A selection of our favourite shop items from the Women of the World festival

Frida Kahlo Little People

Je Suis Feministe Tote Bag

Afro Supa Sista Mug

Advantages of Being A Woman Artist Teatowel