Jude Kelly

Artistic Director at the Southbank, London

Jude Kelly CBE is a theatre director and producer from Liverpool, England.

She is currently the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London, which oversees the Hayward Gallery, the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Saison Poetry Library, and the Arts Council Collection.

Kelly founded Solent People’s Theatre, a touring company, in 1976, and was artistic director of the Battersea Arts Centre from 1980 to 1985. In 1986, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. She became the founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 1990–2002, where as Artistic Director and then CEO, she established it as an acknowledged centre for excellence.

As the Artistic Director, she sat on the National Advisory Committee for Culture, Creativity and Education, led by Ken Robinson, that in 1999 wrote the All Our Futures report which led to significant government investment in young people’s creative and cultural education.

She has directed over 100 productions including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, the English National Opera, the Châtelet in Paris, and London’s West End.

Jude left the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2002 to found Metal, providing artistic laboratory spaces in Liverpool, Peterborough and Southend, funded by Arts Council England and local authorities. Metal provides a platform where creative hunches and ideas can be pursued; it promotes cross-art collaborations and projects to affect the built environment, people, communities and philosophies.

Amongst her many successes as a director, Jude’s production of Singin’ in the Rain transferred twice to the Royal National Theatre and was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production in 2001.

She directed Sir Ian McKellen in The Seagull and The Tempest, Patrick Stewart in Johnson over Jordon and Othello, Dawn French in When We Are Married, and the English National Opera in The Elixir of Love and On the Town, which was the ENO’s most successful production to date and was revived in 2007 at the London Coliseum and in 2008 at Théâtre du Châtelet, Carmen Jones, and The Wizard of Oz at the refurbished Royal Festival Hall.

Jude directed Paco Pena’s Flamenco sin Fronteras in 2009 and Quimeras, also by Paco Pena, which had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in September 2010, and a production of Bernstein’s MASS at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 2010 she founded the Women of the World Festival that celebrates the achievements of women and girls as well as looking at the obstacles they face, and which is now an annual international event.

She is currently Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in central London, Britain’s largest cultural institution.

The Centre consists of the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Saison Poetry Library. Southbank Centre also manages the Arts Council Collection and organises the National Touring Exhibitions programme in venues throughout the UK.

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