Jude Kelly CBE

Founder, Women of the World Festival ​

Jude Kelly CBE

Jude Kelly CBE founded the WOW - Women of the World festival in 2010, which has now become a global movement.

To date, there have been over 42 WOWs in 20 countries across 5 continents. WOW celebrates the history and potential of girls and women in all fields of life and highlights the obstacles that prevent gender equality from being achieved. The WOW Commonwealth Festival has just been held by invitation of the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Queensland Government and Jude is leading the closing plenary of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum. 

In 2014, she also founded BAM - Being a Man to support men and boys explore issues arising from narrow definitions of masculine identity.

She is the winner of the Veuve Clicquot Women and Business Award for Social Commitment and The First Women Award winner and Red Woman of the Year, 2016. 

Jude is currently establishing a new charity, Drivers for Change, to support young creative entrepreneurs from a wide range of social backgrounds to be given skills and networks to affect change in marginalised communities.

In theatre, Jude has directed over a hundred productions in the UK and internationally, and her work in both theatre and opera has been recognised in a number of ways, including two Laurence Olivier awards. She has been founder Artistic Director of a series of institutions, including Battersea Arts Centre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and her own charity Metal - a laboratory for artistic practise in community settings.

She led the cultural bid for the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic celebrations, based on the concept of ensuring the widest possible involvement of people across all nations and regions to celebrate their identity through cultural activity and shape the stories that are told. 

She’s the recipient of 17 honorary doctorates for her work in the field of cultural access and received an OBE and a CBE for services to the Arts. 

She is currently the Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, one of the largest cultural centres in Europe. She leaves there this summer to take the global work of WOW and its related programmes to all corners of the globe.