Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp

Interim Chief Executive

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, FRSA is a key figure in the UK arts and culture scene with close to 40 years professional experience in the sector. Kenneth is currently working as a freelance Arts & Culture Consultant and joins Eclipse as Interim Chief Executive.

He began his career as a dancer; as one of the leading dance artists of his generation, he performed for 13 years with the internationally-acclaimed London Contemporary Dance Theatre and then with other leading companies during a 25-year career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and director.

From 2007 to 2016, he headed The Place, the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development. As Chief Executive, Kenneth held responsibility for the overall leadership, strategy and management, acting as the public face of the organisation, and as an ambassador for The Place’s work.

From May 2018 to September 2020, he was Director of The Africa Centre, in its new home in Southwark. He was proud to have led such an iconic organisation, at a time when its role as a home for contemporary African and diaspora culture and heritage, is needed now, more than ever.

In 2020, he was honoured to serve as Chair of the judging panel for the prestigious AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.

He is a devoted champion of the arts, cultural learning, creativity and diversity, and frequently presents as a keynote speaker in a variety of contexts, from schools to leadership courses, industry related events and the corporate sector. He has been a regular contributor to Speakers for Schools.

He has served on various arts Boards, including The Royal Opera House and The Royal Opera House Benevolent Fund. He is currently a Patron of Akademi and The Place, and a Trustee of choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company, and the Chineke! Foundation and Orchestra. He is also Vice-Chair of a School Governing Body, and sits on the British Council’s Arts & Creative Economy Advisory Group

He has appeared in eight successive editions of the annual Powerlist of Britain’s most influential people of African and African-Caribbean heritage, as well as in Who’s Who.

In 2003 Kenneth was made an OBE in recognition of his services to dance, and in June 2017 was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, also in recognition of his services to dance.