Jude Kelly is the Artistic Director of Britain’s largest cultural institution, Southbank Centre. She is an award-winning director of over 40 productions for stage and screen. In her 30-year career, Jude founded Solent People’s Theatre and then Battersea Arts Centre, establishing it as a national venue.
In 1985, she joined the York Festival as Artistic Director and then the Royal Shakespeare Company, before becoming the founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. As Artistic Director and then CEO of the country’s largest regional theatre, she established the West Yorkshire Playhouse as an acknowledged centre of excellence on a local, national and international scale, developing an ever-expanding policy of access for all. In 1997, she was awarded the OBE for her services to the theatre.
Jude left the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2002 to found METAL, artistic laboratory spaces in London and Liverpool. METAL provides a platform for creative ‘hunches’ and ideas to be pursued. It also involves cross-art collaborations at an international level and developing strategic 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 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 (South Bank Award – Newcomer Opera) and On the Town, which was one of the ENO’s most successful productions.
Jude is much in demand as a commentator and spokesperson for the arts, often appearing on national television and radio. She has represented Britain within UNESCO on cultural matters, served on the Arts Advisory Committee for Royal Society of Arts, and jointly chaired with Lord Puttnam the Curricula Advisory Committee on Arts and Creativity.
Jude is chair of Metal, a member of the London Cultural Consortium, a member of the Dishaa Advisory Group, sits on the board of Creativity, Culture & Education, the board of New Deal of the Mind, she is Chair of the Trustees for World Book Night, and sits on the on the Cultural Olympiad Board which is responsible for the ongoing framework for delivering the creative, cultural and educational aspects of London’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. She is visiting Professor at Kingston University, Leeds University and Shanghai Performing Arts School and holds several honorary degrees from national and international universities.