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Gilane Tawadros. Photo: Brian Benson.
Gilane Tawadros. Photo: Brian Benson.

Gilane Tawadros to Lead London’s Whitechapel Gallery

Gilane Tawadros has been appointed director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London, where she will take up her new post this October. Tawadros has since 2009 served as chief executive of the London-based Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), a nonprofit specializing in artists rights management. She succeeds lwona Blazwick, who helmed the Whitechapel for two decades. Blazwick in January announced that she would be stepping down this spring, noting, “As the gallery emerges from the pandemic in a strong financial position and with programs admired and respected around the world, now seems a good time to hand over the reins.”

“I am overjoyed that Gilane Tawadros will lead Whitechapel Gallery in the next stage of its history,” said Whitechapel chair David Dibosa. “Gilane has a compelling vision and brings decades of experience to help make this a reality. She believes in the role of art in society and knows how to equip institutions to play their part. Throughout her career, Gilane has remained committed to artists alongside all those who help to bring their work into public view.”

Prior to arriving at DACS, Tawadros was from 1994 to 2005 the founding director of London’s Institute of International Visual Arts, or INIVA, a nonprofit organization devoted to elevating the work of British artists from the African and Asian diasporas. Among the artists who received early-career assists from Iniva are Steve McQueen, Yinka Shonibare MBE, and Sonia Boyce, who earlier this month won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale, where she was representing Britain. In 2014 , Tawadros established the Art360Foundation, which assists artists and their estates in creating accessible archives. Last year she initiated through DACS “Manifesto for Artists,” which put forth policy changes aimed at providing direct financial support to artists weathering the yearslong Covid-19 crisis.

“I look forward to working in close collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery’s board and team, artists, and communities in East London, across the country and the globe, to shape a future for the gallery that is bravely responsive to the pressing sociopolitical and environmental context of our time,” said Tawadros. “Cultural diversity, access and inclusivity are abiding concerns for me that underpin a desire to make contemporary art and the art gallery central to all our lives.”