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Former government culture boss to lead V&A Dundee



Arts and culture leader Leonie Bell has been named as the new boss of V&A Dundee to succeed founding director Philip Long.

The new director moves from Renfrewshire Council where she is currently Strategic Lead for the Future Paisley Partnership. Long has left to become chief executive of National Trust for Scotland.

Bell was previously head of Culture Strategy & Engagement at the Scottish Government, chairs the Advisory Board of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and is a trustee of the Edinburgh International Festival.

She said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed director of V&A Dundee. I am looking forward to working with the Board, the team, the museum’s partners and the people of Dundee to further establish V&A Dundee as a world class design museum for Scotland. Like so many, I have watched V&A Dundee flourish in its first two years, and it is a huge privilege to lead the museum into its next phase.”

Dundee-born Bell began her career at Glasgow 1999: UK City of Architecture & Design before becoming Programme Director at The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design & the City. She became director of arts & engagement at Creative Scotland and at the Scottish Government led Scotland’s cultural programmes for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Bell has been leading Paisley’s cultural regeneration plans since June 2018.

She replaces the man who led the development of V&A Dundee from its early planning to opening in September 2018.

V&A Dundee chair Tim Allan said: “We are delighted that Leonie has accepted this leading role at V&A Dundee, leading its awakening from the Covid-19 lockdown into a new era. She is a very experienced, charismatic leader with a passionate background in design and what it can do for communities and places as well as enhancing our position in the world.

“Leonie was born in Dundee and grew up in nearby Fife. She has real authenticity, knowledge, energy and understanding of the museum, its importance to Dundee and Scotland, and of the cultural sector in Scotland and the UK.”

Bell added: “V&A Dundee is an emblem of the city’s design and industrial heritage and a bright beacon for its future. The spectacular building is situated on one of the most beautiful estuaries and in one of UK’s most ambitious and creative cities.”

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said: “This is a fantastic appointment for both V&A Dundee and the city and I wish Leonie all the best in her work for the future. Our design museum has played an integral part in Dundee’s ambitious transformation. I am excited about the next stages of its development to engage with local communities and attract visitors to the city.”



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