Creative England chair joins our team

We are pleased to announce that our new Chair will be John Newbigin OBE. He joins our eleven partners and six staff working from our new offices near the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and in the Northern Quarter in Manchester.

John will help us grow our pioneering specialist practice, so we can provide professional services to the creative and cultural sectors. We are proud we’ve been able to remove the boundaries between funding, accounting, legal, business planning, project management and governance to provide cost effective sector specific support services – and John will help us to do more. Our Senior Partner, Tom said:

“We are pleased to find a Chair who shares our passion for the sector, and who has the skill and experience to work with us to help manage our exciting expansion plans. John understands the worries of the sole trader, and the frustrations of national bodies. Counterculture is sure that his contribution to practice management and client services will be very valuable.”

John steps down from his role as Chair of Creative England in the autumn. As you may know, Creative England discovers, champions and invests in creative people and creative businesses. It connects talented people and promising businesses with the money, markets and networks they need to thrive. John said:

“Chairing Creative England is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. In just five years it has made an imaginative and forceful contribution to growing the country’s creative economy – and I know it’s got even more to offer in the future. I’ve worked with Counterculture on many projects in the past, and I’m looking forward to the new challenge of building on their successes in the international market place.”

As Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Culture, Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, John was closely involved in developing the UK government’s first policies for the creative industries in the 1990s.  He was Head of Corporate Relations for Channel 4 Television (2000-2005) and executive assistant to Lord Puttnam as the Chairman of the film company Enigma Productions Ltd (1992-97).  As a policy advisor to the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Neil Kinnock, MP, (1986-92) he had responsibility for environmental and cultural issues, amongst others.

He is a member of the UK government’s Creative Industries Council; Chairman of the British Council’s Advisory Group for Arts and Creative Economy; member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London; and of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Knowledge Exchange Oversight Group.  He is a member of the International Board of Advisors of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore and an Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong.

He was a youth worker in East London for 6 years and writer-in-residence for Common Stock Theatre.  He has also worked as a journalist and as an illustrator. He was awarded an OBE for “services to creative industries and the arts” in the 2015 New Years Honours List.


(Originally posted 10 May 2017.)