Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, FRSA.
Freelance Arts and Culture Professional
Kenneth is a key figure in the UK arts and culture scene with close to 40 years professional experience in the sector. 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 was Chief Executive of The Place, the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development. From May 2018 to Sept 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 his first seven months in post he helped secure £1.6 million from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund to redevelop The Africa Centre’s four-storey building into a vibrant new home. He led the appointment of the architects Freehaus, and worked closely with them in championing the design process. Building works to redevelop the Centre’s new home are due to begin in autumn 2020.
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 is 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; a
Trustee of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, and the Chineke! Foundation and Orchestra. He is also a School Governor.
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 list, also in recognition of his
services to dance.