Kenneth Tharp takes over Africa Centre

The dancer, choreographer and former chief executive of The Place, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, is to take the Africa Centre to the next chapter in its 54-year story as its director.

For 49 years the centre, intended as a home from home for members of the African diaspora when it was opened by Kenneth Kaunda, occupied a listed building in Covent Garden.

But the building was sold in 2013 and the centre has now moved to Southwark with a major development programme that will see the creation of a new performance venue and The Hub, a flexible co-working space and accelerator for entrepreneurs and creatives, within neighbouring railway arches. And adjacent four-storey building will include an exhibition gallery, a meeting and broadcast suite, the Africa Learning & Research Centre and a new café, opening onto the street, with a pan-African culinary offering.

The long term vision for the Africa Centre rests upon five key pillars of activity, Tharp said: culture, entrepreneurship & innovation, intellectual debate, education and social activity.

“The Africa Centre’s new home marks an exciting moment of development that in turn reflects changes happening across the African continent. Research published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2017 highlighted that: ‘of the 25 fastest growing economies in the world between 2004 and 2014, ten are African’” he said.

“Africa is on the move. Its status on the world stage as a 21st Century continent is increasingly important. The Africa Centre has a key role to play in making tangible the cultural richness and creative energy emanating from the African continent, and in sharing the vibrancy of its 54 nations and extensive diaspora, with as many people as possible.”


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