Melanie Keen has been announced as the new director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva). She will join the organisation in September after five years at Arts Council England as a senior relationship manager in London. Previous Iniva director, Tessa Jackson, stepped down in March.
Keen, who worked as a project curator for the London-based organisation in its formative years between 1997 and 2003, will be returning with the aim of ‘refocusing the organisation’s mission in relation to the politics of race.’
Iniva was founded in 1994 to counteract the lack of diversity within exhibition practices in the UK. The organisation hit rocky ground in 2014 after receiving a 60% cut to its ACE NPO funding for the 2015 -18 period. It was also sharply criticised by its grassroots network of scholars and artists who motioned a vote of no confidence in its management team.
Keen has a background in curating and diversity scholarship, having completed her MA in Contemporary Curating at the Royal College of Art in 1995. She subsequently compiled the joint Iniva/Chelsea College of Art publication, Recordings: A Select Bibliography of Contemporary African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian British Art.
In her capacity as a freelance curator and arts consultant, Keen has produced a range of collaborative and educational projects including for Understanding Slavery, the National Maritime Museum, London; and the BFI Black World and Arts Council England Initiative, Necessary Journeys.
Speaking about her new role, Keen said: “I am thrilled to be joining Iniva in the midst of a transformation which will see it emerge as an organisation with a revitalised purpose and fresh artistic vision.
“Building on its previous achievements, Iniva will remain a champion of artists practising at the intersection of identity, politics and representation. Importantly, Iniva will continue to play a critical role in framing the discourse that challenges the notion of difference and diversity from a uniquely British perspective.”
Anita Bhalla OBE, Iniva’s chair, said: “[Melanie] has a strong track record in arts leadership and understands the needs of artists in an ever-changing and interconnected world.”
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