Meet our 2020 Finalists

Kenneth Tharp CBE FRSA

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Judging Day Sponsor and Host
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Kenneth Tharp CBE FRSA

The Africa Centre

Kenneth Tharp is a key figure in the UK arts and culture scene with over 35 years professional experience in the sector. He began his career as a dancer; as one of the leading dance artists of his generation, he performed for 13 years with the internationally-acclaimed London Contemporary Dance Theatre and then with other leading companies during a 25-year career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and director.

From 2007 to 2016, he was Chief Executive of The Place, the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development, holding responsibility for the overall leadership, strategy and management of The Place, while acting as the public face of the organisation and as an ambassador for its work.

He took up post as Director of The Africa Centre at the end of May 2018, in its new home in Southwark, London. Seven months after taking up post, The Africa Centre was awarded £1.6 of funding from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, to support the redevelopment of its four-storey building into a new home for contemporary African culture and heritage.

He is a devoted champion of the arts, cultural learning, creativity and diversity, and frequently presents as a keynote speaker in a variety of contexts, from schools to leadership courses, industry related events and the corporate sector. He is a regular contributor to Speakers for Schools.

He has served on various arts Boards, including The Royal Opera House and The Royal Opera House Benevolent Fund. He is currently a Patron of Akademi and The Place; a Trustee of Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, the Chineke! Foundation and Orchestra, and is a School Governor. 

He has appeared in eight successive editions of the annual Powerlist of Britain’s most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage, as well as in Who’s Who.

In 2003 Kenneth was made an OBE in recognition of his services to dance, and in June 2017 was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, also in recognition of his services to dance.

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