Arts Council England appoints Darren Henley as chief executive

Henley, head of the radio station Classic FM, will replace Alan Davey, who has led the arts development agency for the past seven years

Darren Henley
Darren Henley

Arts Council England, a major source of funding for arts charities, has appointed Darren Henley, head of the radio station Classic FM for the past 15 years, as its new chief executive.

Henley will replace Alan Davey, who is leaving the national development agency for the arts in early January after seven years to become controller of BBC Radio 3. 

Henley is the author of two government reviews into music and cultural education, published in 2011 and 2012, resulting in initiatives including England’s first National Plan for Music Education and the creation of the National Youth Dance Company.

He has championed the importance of arts and culture in the lives of children and young people, according to a statement from ACE, by chairing the government-backed Music Manifesto campaign to improve music education from 2007 to 2010.

Henley is also the author of 27 books about music and the arts and received an OBE in 2013 for services to music.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England, said that the role of chief executive required a broad range of skills including "a deep well of leadership experience, the ability to navigate the corridors of Whitehall and Westminster and a determination to make art and culture matter for individuals, our communities and our country". 

Henley said that in his new role he wants to build on the legacy left by Davey and champion the importance of arts in many aspects of people’s lives. "Public investment has ensured the vitality and creativity of England’s cultural life," he added.

"Arts Council England and the artists, performers and institutions we invest in contribute to who we are as a nation. I’m privileged to have the opportunity to lead this important organisation and support the extraordinary creativity and innovation that exists across the country in arts organisations, museums, galleries and libraries." 

A starting date for Henley is to be confirmed.

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