Leading the Work: Speaker biographies

Ngaire Blankenberg is the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. Prior to this role, she served as a lead consultant, advising more than 50 museums and cultural projects in 35 cities on 5 continents. She is co-editor, with Gail Lord, of Cities, Museums and Soft Power (AAM Press 2015) and co-editor, with Ali Hossaini, of the Manual of Digital Museum Planning (Rowman and Littlefield 2017). Ngaire speaks, lectures and teaches frequently on the changing role of museums – including on Museums and Soft Power (as a TEDX talk and most recently at the Conference on Soft Power (New Delhi, India).


Melanie Keen is Director of the Wellcome Collection in London. Previously she was the Director and Chief Curator of Iniva (the Institute of International Visual Arts), where she was instrumental in the revitalisation of Iniva’s mission and vision, putting the Stuart Hall Library at the centre of its artistic programme. In a career spanning over twenty years, Melanie has worked as an independent curator and consultant, and as a senior relationship manager at Arts Council England. She is an Independent Advisor to the Government Art Collection, sits on the British Council’s Visual Arts Advisory Group and sat on the Mayor of London’s Suffrage Commission Group in 2018, which saw the commission of an artwork by the first female artist, Gillian Wearing, in Parliament Square. She was on the Selection Committee for the British Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2019.


Gaylene Gould designs interactive art projects and spaces that generously connect us with ourselves, each other and the world. She explores the healing and growth potential of sharing space, stories, ideas and knowledge through her artistic, writing and consultancy practice. Gould believes the transcendent moments that art and culture creates can change how we are in the world. Her projects are produced by her creative company The Space to Come and have been commissioned by and performed organisations including Tate, V&A, Arts Catalyst, Vivid Projects, Selfridges, h club, Moderna Museet Sweden and BAM, New York. She is also an arts broadcaster for the BBC, a published fiction writer, a facilitator, cultural reviewer and a Cultural Ambassador for London appointed by Mayor Sadiq Khan. She has been a cultural leader for 25 years heading up major cultural institutions and projects including Head of Cinemas at BFI Southbank and producing, programming and consulting for the Arts Council, Toronto International Film Festival, National Theatre, Young Vic and Bernie Grant Art Centre amongst others. She is on the Artistic Advisory Board for Brixton House, the Advisory Board for the Decolonising Arts Institute, University Arts London and a Trustee for ANU Productions.


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