The work of The Place is endorsed and supported by our patrons - leading figures from dance, the arts, education and philanthropy whose backing helps us to continue and extend our work developing new dance and dance artists.
Bonnie Greer OBE has lived in the UK since 1986 and became a citizen in 1997. Her plays, books and novels are concerned with the lives of minorities within majority cultures, particularly those of women. She has been Arts Council playwright in residence at the Soho Theatre, and at the Black Theatre Co-operative. She was awarded the Verity Bargate Award for Best Play by the Soho Theatre Company. She has had over a dozen plays produced over BBC Radio; one short film for BBC 2, and co-produced and wrote and presented the documentary on Black art in the West: Reflecting Skin (2004) for the BBC. She is the author of two novels: Hanging by Her Teeth (1994) and Entropy (2009). In October 2009, her memoir/ music history Obama Music was published. Her biography Langston Hughes: the Value Of Contradiction was published by Arcadia in Spring 2011. In 2005 she was appointed to the British Museum's Board of Trustees for a period of four years. In 2008 she was reappointed as a Trustee for a second period and on 26 March 2009 she was promoted to Deputy Chairman. She was appointed OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for contribution to the arts.
Tony Hall CBE (Lord Hall of Birkenhead) is Director General of the BBC, a post he took up in April 2013. He was previously Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House for 12 years, and is widely credited with building that organisation into a global centre of excellence for opera and ballet, and a beacon of creativity and best practice within the arts sector. In addition to his leadership of the Royal Opera House, Hall was appointed Chair of the Cultural Olympiad board in July 2009 with responsibility for delivering a series of cultural events in the run up to the London 2012 Games. He has served as a non-executive director of Channel 4 Television, a Trustee of the British Council, chair of Stratford East Theatre, an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Journalism at City University, a member of the Regeneration Through Heritage Steering Group, a board member for Race for Opportunity, former non-executive director of HM Customs and Excise, and was a member of the Council for Brunel University. In 2007, he conducted a media review for the Ministry of Defence on the HMS Cornwall affair. Until 2001, Tony Hall was Chief Executive BBC News and launched Radio 5 Live, Britain's first 24-hour News and Sport Radio channel, BBC News 24, BBC News Online and BBC Parliament. He built the BBC news gathering network to be a world beater. Tony is the author of King Coal (1981) - a history of the Miners Union, and Nuclear Power (1984). He became a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 and was ennobled in 2010 as Lord Hall of Birkenhead.
Paloma Faith Blomfield is an English singer, songwriter, and actress. Faith is known for her retro and eccentric style. Her debut album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? was released in 2009 and has been certified double platinum in the UK, earning Faith her first BRIT Award nomination in 2010. In 2012, Faith released her second studio album, Fall to Grace, which debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart. The album was critically well received and surpassed the success of her debut, earning a double platinum certification in the UK. The album produced her first top ten single, "Picking Up the Pieces", the top twenty cover version of INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart" and earned her two BRIT Award nominations for Best British Female and British Album of the Year. Faith released her third album, A Perfect Contradiction in 2014, which stands as her most successful album to date. The album spawned the two UK top ten singles "Can't Rely on You" and "Only Love Can Hurt Like This", with the latter topping the charts in Australia. Faith won Best British Female Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards in 2015. Her fourth studio album, The Architect was released in 2017, and debuted at number one in the UK, becoming Faith's first number one album. Her new album Infinite Things was recorded in lockdown is out now. In addition to her music career, she has also made feature film appearances in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dread, the 2007 remake of St Trinian's and played Bet Sykes in the Epix Batman prequel series Pennyworth. In 2016, Faith appeared as a judge on the fifth series of The Voice UK. She is an ambassador for Greenpeace and Oxfam. After being kicked out of ballet training for not fitting the mould, Faith was a member of The Place’s Youth Dance Company, then led by Wayne McGregor (also a patron of The Place), while also being taught dance in her secondary school by Clare Connor, now Chief Executive of The Place.
Dr Haruhisa Handa is Chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, Honorary Chairman of the International Golf Association for the Blind, and Vice-Chairman of the International Shinto Foundation (a United Nations authorized NGO). Backed by the Cambodian government, Mr Handa handles the construction and management of a 24-hour service free emergency hospital in Cambodia. He is a management consultant and owns and manages thirteen Japanese and international corporations. As an artist he is involved in a wide range of activities, including opera, drama and dance. His many years of involvement in the arts-world and corporate philanthropy have led to the award of an honorary Doctor's Degree in Literature from Edith Cowan University (Western Australia).
Anthony Van Laast CBE trained at London Contemporary Dance School, later joining the internationally acclaimed London Contemporary Dance Theatre. He has gone on to become one of the world's leading commercial choreographers. Some of the productions he has worked on include: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Jesus Christ Superstar; Whistle Down the Wind and Bombay Dreams; Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods and A Little Night Music; Leonard Bernstein's Candide; the Broadway and West End productions of Sister Act and both the film and the theatre productions of Abba's Mamma Mia! In 1999 he was awarded the MBE for services to Dance.
Sir Tim Lankester has led a distinguished career in economics and public service and is an ardent supporter of charity and the arts. After studying at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Yale University, Tim went on to enjoy an career with World Bank and then in the English Civil Service, including; at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., as Private Secretary to James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher, as Permanent Secretary at the Overseas Development Administration (now the DFID), and at the Department of Education. He retired from public service in 1994, for which he was knighted. He went on to serve as Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1996 – 2000), President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2001 - 2009), and Chair of the Council of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2008 – 2014). From 2007 to 2015, Tim was Chair of The Place and formerly a board member of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama and Governor of the Royal College of Music. Currently, Tim sits on the boards for many charities, including; Wells Maltings Trust, Norfolk; International Foundation for Arts and Culture; MBI AL Jaber Foundation; and Karachi Education Initiative UK. Tim also sits on the Board for the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art and Culture, University of East Anglia, and is and Honorary Fellow of both SOAS and St John’s College, Oxford.
Wayne McGregor CBE is a multi award-winning British choreographer, renowned for his physically testing choreography and ground-breaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science. He is the Artistic Director of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Resident Company at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London and Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet (appointed 2006). In January 2011, McGregor was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). From 2008-2010 McGregor was appointed the government's first Youth Dance Champion. In 2004 McGregor was a Research Fellow at the Experimental Psychology department of Cambridge University.
Simon and Gilda Russell (Lord and Lady Russell of Liverpool) have been ardent supporters of The Place for many years. As a nephew of Robin Howard, Simon had the privilege of growing up with The Place as an ever-present and normal part of family life. He first visited the Place in 1969 and has been a fan and supporter ever since. He spent over 30 years as an international headhunter. A hereditary peer, he entered the Lords on the crossbenches in 1982, leaving after the 1999 House of Lords Act, returning in 2014 as one of the 90 elected hereditary peers. He is a Deputy Speaker and is the crossbench representative on the human rights organisation, the Council of Europe. He is an active member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts & Heritage and is a trustee of the Foundling Museum. He is a Governor of the UK’s oldest children’s charity, Coram and is a Patron of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE was born in London to English and Nigerian parents. He spent his formative years in Glasgow and then Cambridge, before moving to London aged 18 to study at London Contemporary Dance School. His 25-year performing career included London Contemporary Dance Theatre (1981-1994) and Arc Dance Company (1994-2005). He has worked extensively as a choreographer, teacher and director, including at The Royal Ballet School and National Youth Dance Company. He was Dancer in Residence at Queens’ College Cambridge from 1998-2006 and was Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln (2009-2012). He was co-director of Artyfartyarts, a multi-disciplinary arts group and has choreographed over 45 dances. He served on the Board of the Royal Opera House from 2002–2010. He is a Patron of Akademi and sits on the Cultural Learning Alliance Steering Group. He was a finalist in the inaugural Black British Business Awards (2014), is named in six successive Powerlists of Britain’s most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage, and appears in Who's Who. Kenneth taught for the twelfth successive year on the Royal Ballet Summer School at White Lodge (Lower School), Richmond in 2015. Kenneth was the BBC Young Dancer 2015 Category Finalist Judge across all categories in the inaugural year of the competition. He was Chief Executive of The Place from September 2007 to November 2016. In May 2018 he was appointed director of the Africa Centre, London. Kenneth was appointed an OBE in 2003, then a CBE in 2017, in recognition of his services to dance.