Rosie Millard OBE Appointed Chair of Firstsite’s Board of Trustees

6th February 2019

Rosie Millard Firstsite Chair of TrusteesWe are delighted to announce that Rosie Millard OBE has been appointed the new Chair of Firstsite’s Board of Trustees.

Rosie is currently the Chair of BBC Children in Need, which last year raised a total of £60.7m and supported 2,562 projects to help children and families in poverty and crisis throughout the UK. She is also CEO of Children and the Arts, a national charity that helps all children experience the arts in a high-quality and sustained way regardless of circumstance or background.


 Formerly the BBC’s Arts Correspondent, a role she held for a decade, Rosie is a freelance journalist and broadcaster and the author of four books, one of which, ‘The Tastemakers’ (Thames & Hudson), a survey of British contemporary art, is on the required reading list at the University of Arts London. She is also a Trustee of Opera North and was previously a Trustee of the Carnegie (UK) Foundation, Home Live Art and Modern Art Oxford.

From June 2014 – March 2018, Rosie served as the Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, for which she was awarded an OBE. In this role, she oversaw an immersive programme of 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions and drove through her guiding vision to make culture accessible to all – an ambition that resulted in over 95 percent of Hull residents attending at least one of its events, with a total audience of 5.3 million.

Said Rosie: ‘I am thrilled to become Chair of Firstsite – such an inspiring and exciting art gallery and cultural centre. I have spent my entire career working across the arts world, but the visual arts is my passion. To work in an organisation which embraces both Grayson Perry and Roman mosaics, as well as inhabiting the country’s most beautiful gallery, is beyond exciting.

‘I have always championed the power of top-flight art for everyone and Firstsite’s determined sense of inclusion and unmistakably high standards make it a cultural centre to be reckoned with, on a national and international level.’

Rosie takes over from Interim Chair, Professor Atul K. Shah. Welcoming Rosie’s appointment, Professor Atul K. Shah said: ‘Rosie’s experience and energy will help Firstsite build on our impressive art and culture offering, expanding our reach to a wider audience and developing our excellent community engagement achievements to achieve positive change across Essex.’

Said Firstsite Director, Sally Shaw: ‘I would like to thank Professor Atul K. Shah for his commitment and passion for Firstsite. Professor Shah has guided the Board with an expert and inclusive hand and has brought new energy and insight to the gallery during his time as Interim Chair.

‘We are incredibly excited to welcome Rosie as our new Chair – Rosie’s contribution to the arts sector is inspirational and we are privileged to work under her leadership. Her appointment brings huge opportunities not only for Firstsite but the entire East of England, showcasing the world-class art and culture which emanates from the region.

‘Rosie’s enthusiasm and positivity about Firstsite, Colchester and the transformative power of art will enable us to further increase our impact, helping to empower more people from all backgrounds to be creative together, lead healthier and happier lives and celebrate this fantastic part of the country.’

Firstsite, which is one of the 831 organisations that form part of The Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio, also receives core funding from Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: ‘We’re delighted to welcome Rosie Millard OBE as Chair of Firstsite. She will pick up the baton from Professor Atul K. Shah, who I’d like to thank for his work as Interim Chair.

‘Rosie has extensive experience working across the arts and cultural sector, including as Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, so her appointment is a real testament to Firstsite’s growing impact in Colchester and the wider region. I know that together, Rosie and Sally Shaw will keep pushing Firstsite to new heights, both curatorially and as a vital part of the local community.’

Cllr Mark Durham, Essex County Council and Firstsite Trustee, said: ‘I am delighted that Rosie Millard has been appointed as the new Chair of Firstsite. Rosie has the passion, dedication and commitment to lead Firstsite into a new era. This is a really significant appointment for the organisation and Rosie brings with her exceptional expertise and knowledge from her time as Chair of Hull UK City of Culture, Arts Correspondent for the BBC and her current role as Chair of Children in Need.’

Cllr Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Business and Culture and Firstsite Trustee, said: ‘I am delighted that Rosie Millard has been appointed as Firstsite’s Chair of Trustees. Rosie has a wealth of knowledge, unparalleled experience and a huge passion for the Arts which I’m certain will bring an exciting new perspective to Firstsite and add enormously to the cultural life and vibrancy of Colchester.’

In 2017/18, Firstsite attracted 156,000 visitors, the highest annual visitor figures since the gallery opened in 2011. That period saw highly acclaimed shows by two Turner Prize-winners, Grayson Perry and the 2018 recipient, Lubaina Himid.

Firstsite’s guiding aim is to present a programme of exceptional quality contemporary art exhibitions and cultural activities that resonate with the communities of the East of England – especially Essex and Colchester. Reflecting the extraordinary diversity of the region – its landscape, history and people – the artistic programme inspires people to think creatively about the world around us, the challenges we face and the solutions we might engineer together.

Adds Sally Shaw: ‘Firstsite’s aim is to inspire people through innovative art and culture that contributes to the wellbeing, learning and economy of our surrounding area. One of our key areas of focus is to improve the wellbeing and prospects of young people in Colchester, where over 25% of children live in poverty¹.

‘Rosie’s knowledge and experience of engaging young people in art and culture will help us to reach and learn from the most vulnerable in our community, address challenges faced, and provide rich, creative experiences which broaden horizons and improve life chances.’

Welcome area at Firstsite. 'Big Hello' (2018) Peter Liversidge. Photo by Jayne Lloyd.

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