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Arts Council overhauls leadership structure

Simon Mellor will combine his new role with his job at Arts Council England. Photo: Philippa Gedge Simon Mellor. Photo: Philippa Gedge
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Arts Council England is to change the structure of its governing board, splitting its deputy chief executive position into two separate roles.

The news comes after current deputy chief executive Althea Efunshile revealed she would leave the funding body at the end of October.

ACE is also to create two new roles, including an executive director for innovation, which the organisations said would “focus on galvanising sector thinking around the use of technology in transforming business models”.

Starting in November, executive director for arts and culture Simon Mellor will become deputy chief executive for arts and culture, while Laura Dyer – currently executive director for the North, Midlands and the South West – will become deputy chief executive for places and engagement.

Mellor’s role will focus on “excellence” in the arts, museums and libraries, as well as ACE policy, research, and equality and diversity objectives.

Dyer will lead the funding body’s work with local governments, as well as the five area teams in London, the Midlands, the North, the South West and the South East.

They will both report directly to chief executive Darren Henley.

In addition, the funding body will begin looking to fill two new roles: a chief operating officer responsible for investment, planning and engaging children with the arts, and an executive director for innovation and enterprise.

Henley said the latter role would examine “new types of funding and investment models”, helping ACE to support “opportunities for growth” as well as “helping vulnerable parts of our sector become more resilient”.

He continued: “The innovation element will focus on galvanising sector thinking around the use of technology in transforming business models, and so reach new and different audiences.”

“Unless we can respond to this agenda as a sector, we will fail in our overall shared mission of great art and culture for everyone,” he added.

Elsewhere, ACE’s national director for advocacy and communications Mags Patten will become an executive director – continuing her current responsibilities as well as leading the drive to diversify the arts workforce.

Liz Bushell – currently director of finance and corporate services – will become executive director and chief financial officer.

An Arts Council spokeswoman confirmed the new executive board would cost the same as the current structure. Recruitment for the new roles will begin in June.

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