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Jude Kelly to be South Bank artistic director

London SE1 website team

Jude Kelly is to be the new artistic director of the South Bank Centre with responsibility for the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery.

"I'm thrilled to have been asked to plan the artistic future for one of the great art spaces of the world, especially at a time when the UK starts preparing for the challenge of mounting the 2012 Olympics," she said. The South Bank is to be the centre for cultural activity during the 2012 Olympics.

Michael Lynch, the South Bank Centre's chief executive, said: "I am so pleased to have such a key British cultural player to work with our team at the South Bank to ensure we are a magnet for the greatest artists in the world."

She was born in Liverpool and at school her headmaster was Bill Pobjoy who had been John Lennon's headmaster. Her first London job was in 1980 as artistic director of the Battersea Arts Centre. By 1988 she was West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director. Four years ago she was tipped to succeed Trevor Nunn at the National Theatre.

Jude Kelly will take up her South Bank post next month.

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