Southbank gets first black chair

The Nigerian-born British photographer, entrepreneur and social activist Misan Harriman has been appointed chair of Southbank Centre.

One of the most widely shared photographers associated with the Black Lives Matter Movement, Harriman was the first black man to shoot a cover for British Vogue magazine and becomes the first black chair of the centre's board.

He succeeds Susan Gilchrist, the former PR executive and the first woman to chair the board, and the retail businessman Luke Mayhew has been made deputy chair in succession to David Kershaw.

There was no comment from culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who has said he wants more trustees of arts organisations to come from the community and fewer "woke" appointments and approved Harriman's appointment, as Southbank made the announcement last night, but Arts Council chairman Nicholas Serota said: “Misan Harriman joins Southbank Centre at a time of national recovery, when access to the arts is vital. His proven commitment to innovation and to the diverse voices of the UK will be especially valuable to an iconic institution which was conceived as a beacon for culture of all kinds as the nation emerged from the trauma of world war. This is an exciting appointment for Southbank Centre”.

Harriman, founder of the media content, tech and commerce company What We Seee, is expected to work closely with Southbank CEO Elaine Bedell as the centre reopens. “I believe the incredible mix of arts voices that Southbank Centre offers has never been more important, and has huge potential as we develop a modern, post-lockdown cultural institution, and explore new ways to innovate and bring arts to our communities” he said.


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