Executive Board

The Executive Board is our strategic and executive decision-making body. It provides the executive link between our national and area offices.

It is responsible for developing the long-term strategy for the Arts Council and for ensuring delivery of our strategic framework Great art and culture for everyone. The role of the executive board is to:

  • oversee the development and implementation of corporate strategy
  • undertake high-level monitoring to ensure delivery of the Arts Council plan
  • make major recommendations to Council within delegated powers, and to approve further delegations as appropriate

Read our Executive Board terms of reference

Executive board is chaired by the Chief Executive, Darren Henley, and comprises the Deputy Chief Executive, the executive directors for art and culture, national strategy and our five areas, with directors for advocacy and communications and finance.  


Chief Executive
Arts Council England

Darren Henley has been Chief Executive of Arts Council England since April 2015.

He previously spent twenty-five years working in radio, leading Classic FM for fifteen years, first as Managing Editor and then as Managing Director. He was appointed an OBE in 2013 for services to music. Darren has chaired or sat on a range of government advisory boards in the area of cultural education. His two independent government reviews into music education (2011) and cultural education (2012) resulted in the creation of England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company.

He is the author or co-author of twenty-nine books, including The Virtuous Circle: Why Creativity and Cultural Education Count. It argues that an excellent cultural education is the right of everyone, bringing personal, social and commercial advantages that can only benefit the lives of all individuals in our society.


Deputy Chief Executive
Arts Council England

Althea Efunshile was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of the Arts Council in 2012, after joining in 2007 as Chief Operating Officer. Althea has responsibility for operational delivery and corporate planning across the organisation, as well as for developing and implementing the national Arts Council Investment Strategy.

Althea spent six years as a senior civil servant in various director level roles in the Department for Education and Skills. The greater part of Althea's career has been in local government. From 1996 to 2001 she was a chief officer with the London Borough of Lewisham, first as Director of Education and Community Services, and then as Executive Director for Education and Culture. She had previously worked in London Borough of Merton, London Borough of Harrow, and Buckinghamshire County Council. She has also worked in the voluntary sector as the head of a Community Education Centre in Westminster.

She started her career as a secondary school teacher in the London Borough of Brent.


Director, Finance and Corporate Services
Arts Council England

Liz Bushell was appointed as Chief Finance Officer/Director Finance and Corporate Services at Arts Council England in January 2013.

Her responsibilities include oversight of finance, HR, IT, and estates and facilities for the organisation. Liz joined the Arts Council in 2000 and her previous roles include the position of Director, Finance, which she held since 2003. Liz qualified as a chartered accountant in 1998, working for Ernst & Young in their technology, communication and entertainment division from 1995 to 2000. She also has a degree in Music from Durham University.


Executive Director, North, Midlands and South West
Arts Council England

Laura Dyer was appointed Executive Director for national strategy and the North, the Midlands and the South West in the recent organisation review. She joined the Arts Council in 2000 as part of the merger of the ten regional arts boards in her role as Chief Executive of East Midlands Arts Board. Until 2010 when she became Executive Director Midlands and South West she held the post of Executive Director, East Midlands. During her time in the East Midlands Laura led a capital development programme which transformed the region's cultural landscape. Over £130 million has been invested in the creation of six new arts and cultural facilities.

As a member of the Executive Board she has also taken on a number of national roles, including acting as lead for human resources for four years. After postgraduate studies at Essex University Laura started her career in the arts in a number of theatre and community arts companies before moving into large outdoor events programming at the Garden Festival Wales. She went on to work for local authorities, firstly as an Arts Development Officer in Norfolk where she led the redevelopment of King's Lynn Corn Exchange, one of the first Lottery funded buildings in the East. Later, as Head of Arts in Croydon, she managed the Croydon Clocktower and established the Croydon Summer Festival.


National Director of Communication
Arts Council England

Mags Patten joined the Arts Council in June 2012. She was appointed to the post of National Director of Communications as part of the organisation review.

Mags leads on advocacy and communications for the Arts Council, looking after media relations, strategic communications with audiences including government and the arts and culture sector, internal communications, customer services, digital communications, events and publications. Mags began her career in television publicity, where she looked after some of the BBC and Channel 4's high profile current affairs, arts and drama output and the media launch of More4.

She has led communications at English National Opera and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Prior to joining the Arts Council she worked as a consultant for clients including the European Union/Equality Commission Northern Ireland and Channel 4 television and lived in the French Alps learning French and mountaineering.


Executive Director, Arts and Culture
Arts Council England

Simon is Executive Director, Arts & Culture for Arts Council England, where he is a member of Executive Board, responsible for Arts and Cultural strategy.

He was previously General Director of the Manchester International Festival and before that held roles as Executive Director and Administrative Producer at Lyric Hammersmith. He was also producer and founder of Gloria Theatre Company, and worked as Youth Arts Projects Coordinator for the Southbank Centre. He has also been Head of Education at Battersea Arts Centre and Co-Director of Pegasus Theatre in Oxford.

Image captions
Top left to bottom right: 1. Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann Kler, produced by Artichoke. Photo © Chris Hill / Artichoke. 2. Dot, Squiggle and Rest at Polka Theatre with Royal Opera House. Photo © Robert Workman / Polka Theatre. 3. Shailesh Bahoran and Sooraj Subramaniam of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance perform Material Men, commissioned by Southbank Centre. Photo © Chris Nash. 4. Newcastle City Library. Photo © Newcastle City Library / Mark Thurston / Steve Brock 5. David Glowacki's Hidden Fields. Photo © Paul Blakemore / Interactive Scientific Ltd 6. Reopening of Manchester Central Library, March 22nd 2014. Photo © Joel C. Fildes for Arts Council England 7. Reopening of Manchester Central Library, March 22nd 2014. Photo © Joel C. Fildes for Arts Council England.. 8. Jon Nash & Jim Crago, writers of Spice Box: a Barbican Theatre Plymouth production at The Elizabethan House. Photo © Gemma Ward Photographer / Barbican Theatre. 9. Hands. Photo © CP Photo Art / DigitalVision / Getty Images.