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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
South Bank supremo takes up role
Photo: South Bank Centre/Alex Macnaughton
Jude Kelly was made an OBE in 1997 for services to theatre
The first artistic director of the South Bank Centre in London, Jude Kelly, has started her job.

The theatre director will be responsible for forging an artistic vision for the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

And she will look after the Royal Festival Hall when it reopens in 2007 after being refurbished.

The Liverpool-born 51-year-old said she was thrilled to be in charge of "one of the great art spaces of the world".

Ms Kelly made her name as artistic director of the Battersea Arts Centre in south London in the 1980s.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1986 before becoming the first artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Cultural 'epicentre'

She was credited with turning it into one of the country's most vibrant theatres and was made an OBE in 1997.

Tipped at one stage as a possible director of the National Theatre, Ms Kelly has directed more than 100 productions - most recently On the Town at the London Coliseum.

She is also chair of London 2012's cultural and education committee.

"I am so pleased to have such a key British cultural player to work with our team," South Bank Centre chief executive Michael Lynch said.

"Jude will work closely with me and our talented programming and curatorial teams to ensure we remain the epicentre of London's cultural life."

The centre's classical music season starts this weekend with an Early Music Weekend while the Hayward Gallery's next exhibition, Universal Experience, opens on 6 October.

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