New chair of Town Hall/Symphony Hall named

Former BBC executive to head venues group. 

Performances Birmingham Limited, the charity that runs Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall, has announced that Anita Bhalla OBE DL has been elected its new Chairman. Ms Bhalla, a former senior BBC executive, will assume her post early next year, taking over from Roger Burman CBE DL, the founding Chairman of Town Hall Symphony Hall, who has been in post since 1991.

Mr Burman leaves the charity in a stable financial position, with record audiences in the past year, and a thriving learning and participation programme that takes music into communities across the city. He said: “It has been a privilege to serve Birmingham as  chairman of one of the UK’s leading music organisations over the past 22 years.  We are very proud of the wide range of musicians, orchestras, singers and bands we have brought to the city, the many partners with which we work across Birmingham, the musicians whose careers we have nurtured and the achievements of the tens of thousands of young people involved in our music education and community activities. Town Hall and Symphony Hall are at the heart of the city’s cultural life, as well as offering significant economic benefits, and I am proud to have been a part of Birmingham’s cultural renaissance over the last two decades.”

Anita Bhalla has been a trustee of Performances Birmingham Limited since 1996, and until recently worked for the BBC in a variety of roles, including overseeing the national network of Big Screens that show live relays of major cultural and sporting events, and founding the BBC Asian Network.  She has a strong commitment to public service, and serves as Chair of the Creative City Partnership for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. A former Governor of Birmingham City University and member of the Independent Commission on Social Justice, she has more recently been part of the Birmingham Social Justice Commission, led by the Bishop of Birmingham.  She was the first woman Chairman of Circom, a Europe-wide group of public service broadcasters, and has won several awards including the Commission for Racial Equalities’ Race in the Media National Television News Award.  Ms Bhalla was awarded an OBE for her service to Broadcasting and Communities in 2009, and served as High Sheriff of the West Midlands in 2010-2011.

Ms Bhalla said: “I am really looking forward to taking up my post, and helping to guide PBL during what will be a difficult period as public sector funding cuts bite.  I am particularly keen to forge even stronger relationships with our artistic partners – including our resident ensembles and artists, such as the CBSO – to ensure that PBL presents a wide and diverse programme of events which reflects the demographics of our great city.”

She continued: “I would like to pay tribute to Roger Burman for his sterling work as Chairman of PBL over the past two decades, and his leadership of the Board of Trustees.  We will be working together, alongside the Deputy Chairman Andy Street and Chief Executive Andrew Jowett, to ensure a smooth changeover.”

Anita Bhalla will take up her post following Roger Burman’s last board meeting on 27th February 2014.