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Peter Stark OBE is a cultural policy expert with substantial experience of translating policy into practice in the UK and South Africa.

His fields of expertise include: research; cultural leadership and management training; organisational development and change and the design of cultural programmes and facilities.

Peter's principal concerns are in the deployment of that expertise in addressing the role of the arts and culture in economic and social regeneration whether at regional, city or community level.

He was based in South Africa between 2000 and 2012 working principally in Inner City Johannesburg on the Newtown Cultural Precinct, Constitution Hill and for Wits University - and the Eastern Cape where he founded The Swallows Partnership/Sihlanganiswa Ziinkonjane linking that Province and North East England through the arts, museums, libraries and film as well as expanding his interest in the role of culture in regeneration to the rural areas of the former South African homelands and conducting research projects for National and Provincial government.

From 1984, as Director of Northern Arts, Peter initiated the policies that led to the Gateshead Quays developments and the culturally led transformation of his native Tyneside including The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the Baltic Visual Arts Centre and The Sage Gateshead during the design and development of which he served as Special Projects Adviser to Gateshead Council.

Peter was awarded the OBE in 1990 for his work at Northern Arts and a Chair at Northumbria University in 2000. He was made an Honorary Professor of Cultural Policy and Management at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2008.

Although continuing his work in South Africa he is now based in Northumberland. Peter was appointed to the chair of Voluntary Arts in the UK and Ireland in October 2012.

In 2013 and 2014 Peter collaborated with two longstanding colleagues, David Powell and Christopher Gordon, on two major cultural policy reports: 'Rebalancing our Cultural Capital' (www.theroccreport.co.uk) and 'Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England' (www.theplacereport.co.uk) which focus respectively on the imbalance in public funding for the arts and culture between London and the rest of the country and on the distance beween public policy intention for the Arts Lottery and the actual pattern of distribution.

cultures in regeneration & The Swallows Parnership/Sihlanganiswa Ziinkonjane

Peter is a British citizen now resettled in Northumberland after twelve years working in South Africa. He has rights of permanent residence in South Africa in 2012 after six years working on 'Exceptional Skills' work permits.

cultures in regeneration is a South African company registered in 2008 as a base for Peter's work in cultural research, training and consultancy. It is in the process of being transferred to majority South African ownership.

The Swallows Partnership/Sihlanganiswa Ziinkonjane is an exchange and development programme in the arts and culture established by Peter from 2005 and formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Eastern Cape and the Association of North East Councils in 2008 (to be renewed in 2013). The management of the programme has now been transferred to 'incorporated charities' in each country, The Swallows Foundation UK and isiseko Senkonjane SA with their own Boards and staffs.


  • Project Co-ordinator for Birmingham Arts Laboratory (1968-70) and first administrator for John Fox's Welfare State (1970-72)
  • Member of Arts Council of Great Britain Committees for New Activities, Experimental Drama, Experimental Projects and Community Arts (1969-74)
  • Founding Director of South Hill Park Community Arts Centre in Bracknell (1972-77)
  • Arts Development Officer, Northampton Development Corporation (1977-79)
  • Lecturer in Arts Management and Head of Practical Training Scheme and Short Course unit (1979-82)
  • Administrator. Council of Regional Arts Associations (1982-84)
  • Director of Northern Arts (1984-92) playing a leading national role in the redefinition of the arts funding system and -n 1990 – initiating the policies that led to the culture-led regeneration of Tyneside.
  • Development Director, establishing the Voluntary Arts Network across Great Britain (1992-94)
  • Special Projects Adviser to Gateshead Council - on the development of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art with the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and chairing the client side throughout the design development phase for Norman Foster’s The Sage Gateshead
  • Chair in Cultural Policy and Management at Northumbria University (2000-2003)
  • Chaired the International Society of Performing Arts Academy and the International Theme for Creative Clusters Conferences (2000-2004).
  • Steering Group for the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies Conference in Gateshead (2006) and leader of successful Johannesburg bit to host the same conference in 2009.
  • Still an occasional singer of the songs of the North of England. Peter was awarded the OBE for services to the arts in the North in 1990.
  • Based in South Africa 2000-2012


Culture and urban regeneration

  • Cultural Audit of the Inner City for City of Johannesburg (with US Aid 2000/01)
  • Project management Johannesburg’s Newtown Cultural Precinct (JDA 2001 - 06)
  • Conceptual Framework for Constitution Hill (JDA 2001)
  • Inner City Vision for NMBM (with GAPP 2002) and Feasibility Study for “The
  • Statue of Freedom” (with KPMG 2003/4)
  • Management of design competition for The Statue of Freedom (2004/5)
  • Lead for Culture & heritage within MBDA Strategic Spatial Framework (with GAPP 2005/6)
  • Lead on Arts Culture & Heritage for the Johannesburg Mayoral Inner City Charter (2006-8)
  • Overview Capital Infrastructure Strategy to 2030 and Feasibility Study for an International Music Centre in Soweto. (Johannesburg 2007 -)
  • Masterplanning for Wits University (2004-6) and University of Johannesburg (2007- )
  • Study for Mining Museums & Miners’ Memorials for Chamber of Mines & NUM (2007 - 08)
  • Adviser on arts/heritage centres for Kwanobuhle, Tsitsikama and Humansdorp
  • Lead on consultation for urban upgrade of Donkin Heritage Precinct (MBDA 2008)
  • Project leader on operational support to Emthonjeni Arts - an International Artists Residency at the Kesiskamma rivermouth (2012)

Cultural Policy Research

  • Development of Cultural Policy for Nelson Mandela Bay Metro
  • Policy Framework for Local Arts & Culture Centres (SA Dept. of Arts & Culture 2004)
  • Scoping Policy and Budget Structure for National Arts Council SA (2006/7)
  • Project adviser to SA NAC (successful) bid to host the IFACCA World Summit on Arts & Culture in Johannesburg in 2009 (2005 - 7)
  • Co-leader (with MARU) of DAC research on Sustainable Human Settlements (2008 - 10)

Cultural Leadership and Management Training

  • Specialist advice to ATI (Arts & Teaching Initiatives) in their development of a Cultural Policy for the NMBMM. (2004-05)
  • Established Johannesburg Centre for Cultural Policy & Management and Masters courses in Cultural Management (Wits University 2002)
  • Scoping study for a Provincial In-Service Training Institute (EC DSRAC 2007 - )
  • Honorary Research Associate of Wits School of Arts (2006 - )
  • Honorary Adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Appointed by both the Management and Arts faculties to establish a Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries (NMMU 2008 -)
  • Cultural Project Management for rural South Africa. Course development and pilot with Lee Corner (2011-12)
  • Cultural Leadership Programme for English and Scottish managers in South Africa (2012)

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