The Art House appoints new CEO/Artistic Director, Sydney Thornbury


Sydney Thornbury, former CEO of The Blackheath Conservatoire, has been appointed the new CEO/Artistic Director of The Art House, Wakefield. The appointment comes as The Art House, who provide accessible studio and gallery spaces for disabled and non-disabled artists, embarks on a four year period (2018-2022) as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, alongside other Wakefield arts organisations such as The Hepworth, Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


Sydney, who specialises in organisational transformation and sustainable business models for the arts, has played a key role in the development of a number of building-based arts organisations in the UK, including The Blackheath Conservatoire (2011-2016) and Beckenham Place (2017). She takes the helm following former CEO/Artistic Director, Shân Edwards’ move to Edinburgh Printmakers in early 2018.


Increasing access and championing diversity has been central to Sydney’s career, most notably in the creation of an online arts education programme that linked children from contrasting communities around the world through artistic collaboration. The programme also sought to bring artistic activity to people who would not (or could not) normally engage with it.


Jane Glaister, Chair of the Board of Trustees, The Art House said: “We are delighted that Sydney has joined the team and look forward to working closely with her to develop our services, reach and shared ambitions for The Art House.”


Since joining The Art House, Sydney has been working closely with staff to shape their most ambitious annual programme to date. Plans include a full schedule of opportunities for artists, partnerships with national arts organisations and a wide range of exhibitions and classes for the public. An Associate Artists and Young Associates programme is also due to launch later in 2018, designed to support a diverse range of young people and early career creative practitioners to develop their skills and ideas.


Already home to the UK’s first ‘Studio of Sanctuary’ following a successful pilot in 2017, this year will also see The Art House expand its work with asylum seeker and refugee artists. Three professional artists and makers currently have studios at The Art House; from which they create work that has featured in exhibitions across the globe, including Italy, Spain, Colombia and at Tate in London, to name just a few.


Sydney Thornbury said, “The Art House is an amazing space for both UK and International artists, as well as the local Wakefield community. It is very special to find a place truly devoted to exploring and nurturing the process of creativity. I am looking forward to working with the great team at The Art House to engage as many people in our work as possible”





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