Institute of Contemporary Arts appoints director - Museums Association

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Institute of Contemporary Arts appoints director

Bengi Ünsal joins from London's Southbank Centre
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Bengi Ünsal has joined the ICA from the Southbank Centre
Bengi Ünsal has joined the ICA from the Southbank Centre

London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has appointed a new director.

Bengi Ünsal, who joins from the Southbank Centre where she was the head of contemporary music, becomes the first woman to serve as the ICA’s director in 55 years.

Alongside the centre’s visual arts, film and education programmes, Ünsal will develop a broader range of live performances and build on the build the ICA’s night-time programming. She will also expand the digital arts programme that grew during the pandemic.

“We are living through a time that is challenging everything we know about work, life, the world, our connectivity,” Ünsal said. “In a time of such questioning, it is vital that the space for culture, art and expression is safeguarded to help us make sense of it all. We need our cultural institutions to be the platforms which allow artists to do just that.”

During Ünsal’s time at the Southbank Centre she was responsible for a programme of more than 200 contemporary performances, including the annual Meltdown festival. Before joining the Southbank Centre in 2016 she was the artistic and managing director of Istanbul's live performance and multi-arts venue, Salon IKSV.

Former ICA director Stefan Kalmár, who spent five years at the organisation, announced plans to step down last year.

The ICA was founded in the 1940s by a collective of artists and poets, and their supporters. It is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

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