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Business Shapers: Jude Kelly

Posted on 18 December 2013

Jude Kelly joined Southbank Centre as Artistic Director in September 2005 and is responsible for creating a unified artistic vision for the whole 21-acre site. 


Business Shapers: Jude Kelly

Jude Kelly

Artistic Director at the Southbank Centre

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya
In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

My career has been about trying to find a way that you open up the arts to a great many more people.  The world of the imagination where you’re thinking right now what do I want to create, that creation can then be a play, it can be a novel, it can be a business, it can be a new airline, everything about the human imagination excites me.  I very much try to fend off this idea of the separation between the arts and commerce. I think one of the great things about the United Kingdom and most of the places where art flourishes actually is that this sort of mixed economy that we all work in or we borrow from each other and we invest money in some things in order to get an outcome on the other side some of which is pure pleasure, some of which is provocative and confrontational and all of which kind of enriches our lives both financially and emotionally. 

People say about a business you can tell not just who is leading it, but also all the way through the organisation the philosophy and the style of the organisation needs to be consistent.  West Yorkshire Playhouse was building a brand new theatre, so when they appointed me you know I am obviously I am involved from working with the architects I am involved with thinking flows for the building including things like well how do you have a great restaurant, how do you have a fantastic coffee bar?  What’s it like to be welcomed in and find your ticket, so some of it is you know pure commerce. 

The big influence is all the women who I couldn’t find when I was out there being a director.  I was told that there were no women directors.  That wasn’t true, but history hasn’t written their story very well so I think that the thing that’s motivated me is trying to make sure that girls and women feel that they can tell their story now and that they can be role models to others.  If I am a bit of one for other people then I’m pleased. 

Just as the internet is like the second version of the printing press, I think that the way that the arts has become something that celebrates individual creativity not just the sort the successful artist, but the way that participation has changed the arts.  Involvement of the ordinary person if you want to put it that way.  I think that’s going to be a massive change in the arts in the next twenty years.  I think you’ll see thousands and thousands more people getting engaged and making work and I think that is very exciting.

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya

In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

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