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Jude Kelly CBE

Former Artistic Director, Southbank Centre & Founder, Women of the World Festival

Speaker Themes

  • Diversity and Inclusion

  • Personal Leadership

  • Women in Leadership

About Jude

Jude’s passion is getting the best out of people and how to create cultures and environments where women and men can truly thrive and be confident in their abilities. Drawing on her years of experience directing theatre and opera, Jude explores how to harness the ability and energy of teams from diverse backgrounds to deliver success. 

Speaker Biography

In theatre, Jude has directed over a hundred productions in the UK and internationally, and her work in both theatre and opera has been recognised in a number of ways, including two Laurence Olivier awards. She has been founder Artistic Director of a series of institutions, including Solent Peoples Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and her own charity Metal – a laboratory for artistic practise in community settings. She led the cultural bid for the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic celebrations, based on the concept of ensuring the widest possible involvement of people across all nations and regions to celebrate their identity through cultural activity and shape the stories that are told. She’s the recipient of 17 honorary doctorates for her work in the field of cultural access and received an OBE and a CBE for services to the Arts. She was the Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, one of the largest cultural centres in Europe until January 2017.

In 2010 she founded the WOW – Women of the World festivals, which have now become a global movement. To date, there have been over 42 WOWs in 23 countries across 5 continents. 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. In 2014, she also founded BAM – Being a Man to support men and boys explore issues arising from narrow definitions of masculine identity.

Jude is currently establishing a new charity, Drivers for Change, to support young creative entrepreneurs from a wide range of social backgrounds to be given skills and networks to affect change in marginalised communities.

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