New chapter for Hay Festival Foundation Ltd as board welcomes 7 Trustees

Hay Festival Foundation Ltd Chair Caroline Michel has today announced the appointment of seven new members to the charity’s Board of Trustees following an open recruitment process.

Based in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, Hay Festival is one of the world’s best-known arts charities, running events and projects that widen access to culture in eight countries across three continents. 

Joining the Board are farmer, ceramicist and film producer Corisande Albert; economist Nick Butler; arts leader and digital specialist Tony Followell; tech investor Suhair Khan; historian, writer and broadcaster David Olusoga; business leader Ed Shedd; and digital content specialist Shakia Stewart. 

Each new Trustee will serve a fixed term, supporting the charity’s refreshed mission and ongoing new audience development strategy. They join established Board members comprising international lawyer Victoria Bejarano; journalist and campaigner Baroness Rosie Boycott; business leader Geraint Davies; accountant Mair Gwynant; writer and lawyer Philippe Sands (KC); with literary agent Caroline Michel. 

Retiring Trustees at the end of their fixed term of duty include Lord Terry Burns, Jonathan Godfrey, Nik Gowing and Dylan Jones, who have supported the board with their expertise over the years. Jonathan Godfrey, Nik Gowing and Dylan Jones will now transition over to the Hay Festival Foundation Ltd Advisory Council, a body of ambassadors that supports the Festival year-round, while Lord Burns will continue as an advisor to the charity’s Finance & Audit Committee.  

Hay Festival Foundation Ltd Chair Caroline Michel said: “I am delighted to welcome these seven exceptional individuals to the Hay Festival Foundation Ltd Board. Each new member brings extensive expertise and experience at a crucial moment for our charity. As we continue to deliver on our mission in the UK and globally, their contribution will prove invaluable. I look forward to working with them. 

“At the same time, we offer our warmest thanks to our outgoing Trustees – Lord Terry Burns, Jonathan Godfrey, Nik Gowing and Dylan Jones. Each has served our charity with dedication and passion through a period that saw us rise to the challenges of a global pandemic and transition to full charitable status while reaching more audiences globally than ever before.”

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “It is thrilling to begin 2024 with a raft of new Board appointments to aid our continued transformation. Closely aligned with our charitable objectives, each Board member brings both specialist expertise and a passion for our mission to inspire audiences, new and established.”

The new Trustee announcement comes on the back of recent Hay Festival expansion with new Forum editions in Panama City, Panama, and Seville, Spain; year-round After Hours events in cities across the UK, supported by a new multi-year funding agreement with the Unwin Charitable Trust; a revived Hay Festival Book Club; plus national funding investments in the core charity.  

Meanwhile, Festival events further afield are already in full swing. This month, there were Hay Festival editions in Jericó, Medellín and Cartagena, Colombia, and Panama City, and Hay Forum Seville in Spain takes place in March. Closer to home, Hay Festival Scribblers Tour is currently taking writers direct to schools across Wales in free events, finishing in February. 

And at the end of last year, Hay Festival announced 30 earlybird events for its next UK edition, 23 May-2 June 2024, offering a promise of fresh thinking, dynamic performances and diverse voices accessible to all. Confirmed speakers include novelists Colm Tóibín, Marlon James, Jeanette Winterson and Andrey Kurkov; environmentalist George Monbiot; podcaster Rory Stewart; comedians Julian Clary and Sara Pascoe; poet Hollie McNish; musician Jools Holland; and actors Miriam Margolyes and Lenny Henry.

Corisande Albert is a farmer, ceramicist  and award-winning film producer. Trained as a barrister, she is Managing Director of Transatlantic Films and has an organic regenerative agriculture farm near Hay-on-Wye, Wales. She also runs a ceramics studio with her work exhibited nationally. She said: “There is something magical and unique about Hay Festival. By sharing stories and ideas locally and across the globe, Hay sparks friendships, debates, hope and moments of pure joy.  It is a privilege to join the board of trustees as Hay Festival Foundation begins an exciting new chapter with expanded horizons and exciting possibilities.”

Nick Butler is an economist, specialising in the transition to a lower carbon society and the relationship between energy and security. He is an experienced non-executive Director and Chairman of commercial and not-for-profit entities. He said: “I am flattered and delighted to have been invited to become a Hay Festival Foundation Ltd. Trustee. Having attended the last 22 festivals and found a home in Clyro it is a pleasure to be able to contribute to the remarkable work which the Festival does - in Hay, across Wales and in countries across the world. Hay Festival is a charity of ideas and optimism - both much needed in these difficult times.”

Tony Followell is Managing Director at TRG Arts and Chair of Trustees at Music for All. His past roles saw him build the Royal Opera House global Live Cinema business, advise the cultural sector on digital and commercial strategies, and win numerous awards as a BBC producer and director. He said: “I am enormously excited to be joining the board at a time of renewal for the foundation. I am passionate about helping the foundation to deliver on its mission, and to grow its national and international impact in an innovative, inspirational and inclusive way.”

Suhair Khan is a technology entrepreneur and creative leader. She is the founder of open-ended design, a platform and incubator for creative technologists working with artificial intelligence. In over a decade at Google and Google Arts & Culture, Suhair led initiatives which merged cutting edge technologies with arts, design, culture, education and environmental sustainability. She is on the board of trustees / advisory committees to the Design Museum, British Library, Sadler’s Wells, London Design Biennale and the UK’s Museum of the Year Prize and is currently a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design where she lectures on technology and spatial practices.

David Olusoga is a historian, author, presenter and BAFTA-winning film-maker. He is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and the author of several books. His book Black and British was awarded both the Longman-History Today Trustees Award and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, while the children’s edition won best Children’s Non-Fiction at the British Book Awards. David is a recipient of the BAFTA Special Award, the British Academy’s President's Medal and the Norton Medlicott Medal for Services to History. He said: “I first came to the Hay Festival over 20 years, when I was a young TV producer looking for inspiration. What I learned then, and what each visit to Hay Festival reminds me, is that there is simply no other festival like it. The Hay Festival is special and I am thrilled to have the chance to play a small part in the next stages in its story.”

Ed Shedd is a long-standing Partner at Deloitte where he leads the European TMT and Climate & Sustainability practices. Experienced in supporting CEO-led growth and digital transformation, he is passionate about driving change to help deliver society’s transition to a net positive, circular economy. He is also Chair of Create Central, an industry body helping to turbo charge the West Midlands creative content sector. He said: “Inspired by the power of ideas to change the world and enchanted by the Hay Festival for over thirty years, I am so excited to be joining the Hay Board.  Hay has performed the rarest of magic tricks.  It is rooted in the beauty of the hills and valleys of the Welsh countryside, whilst simultaneously existing as a powerful force for positive change, wherever there is a community of people who are keen to understand the world as it is, how it might be, and perhaps most importantly of all, how it might be made better.  It is that combination of challenge, ambition and optimism that draws me to the Hay Festival.”

Shakia Stewart is Global Head of Digital Content at the British Council. A champion of inclusive design and the power of storytelling, she is an advocate for equality and diversity in the workplace and beyond. With an MA in Latin American History, she has a special interest in the Black diaspora and is a widely travelled content specialist and consultant, working with change groups including the Black Swimming Association and the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery at the Museum of London, Docklands. She said: “I’m over the moon to be joining Hay Festival at this critical time, when shared understanding has never been so important. I’m excited to share my love of storytelling, and it’s power to help us understand our past and build a more sustainable and inclusive global community for our future generations.”