Barbican main hall plenary


2nd - 4th July 2018
The Barbican 

Plenary Speakers

We were delighted to welcome our three inspiring plenary speakers to this year's event.

Monday 2nd July, Barbican Hall, 9.15am - Will Gompertz

Will Gompertz is the BBC's first Arts Editor, a senior journalistic role he took up in 2009. In the past eight years Will has conducted extensive (often exclusive) television interviews with many of the world’s most recognised arts figures including: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Mick Jagger, Jennifer Lawrence, Paul McCartney, Marina Abramovic, Daniel Barenbiom, Viola Davis, Ai Weiwei, Tom Hanks, JK Rowling, Denzel Washington, Zaha Hadid, Orhan Pamuk, and Madonna.

He is a respected and widely known commentator on the arts and has presented numerous programmes and documentaries for the BBC, hosted his own regular network radio show, and written for leading magazines and newspapers, such as: Vanity Fair, The Times, and The Guardian.

He has also written two best-selling non-fiction books (both published by Penguin in the UK). What Are You Looking At? – a history of modern art – which was published to excellent reviews in 2012, and has gone on to become one of the most frequently cited texts by students studying art history in the U.K. It has been re-printed many times over and translated into twenty languages. As has Will’s second book, Think Like an Artist (2015), which is about creativity.

Before joining the BBC Will spent 7-years as a Director of the Tate Galleries where he was responsible for its BAFTA-winning website, creative direction, and the launching of the UK's first Performance Art festival.

Will was voted one of the World's Top 50 Creative Thinkers by New York's Creativity magazine and is a Fellow of Harris Manchester, Oxford University. 

Tuesday 3rd July, Barbican Hall, 1.45pm - Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto was born under curfew in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1982. Her father, Murtaza, was in exile from his home country of Pakistan whose military junta had executed his father, Pakistan’s first democratically elected head of state Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, three years before. Before Zulfikar was hanged, he ordered his two sons to leave Pakistan, he feared that he would be killed and that they would be next.

Though Fatima spent her childhood in Damascus, Syria before returning to Pakistan, politics and the violence that accompanied it was never far behind. In 1985 her uncle Shahnawaz Bhutto was murdered and her father, a member of parliament in Pakistan, was killed outside their home in 1996. In 2007, her aunt Benazir also lost her life violently. Fatima studied Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, before completing a Masters in South Asian Government and Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She published her first book, a volume of poetry Whispers of the Desert (Oxford University Press) when she was 15 years old. Fatima began her writing career with a weekly column for Jang, Pakistan’s largest Urdu newspaper, and The News, its English sister paper, which included written diaries from Tehran, Iran, Cuba and Lebanon during the 2006 summer war.

Her work has since appeared in The Financial Times, Granta, Vogue, and The Guardian, among other publications. Fatima’s published works include a collection of first-hand accounts from survivors of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, Songs of Blood and Sword (Jonathan Cape) a non-fiction account of Pakistani politics and her family, and a novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon (Penguin), which was long listed for the Bailey’s Prize in 2014 and won the Prix de la Romanciere in 2014.

In 2012, she was selected to be a Young Global Leader for the World Economics Forum, one of 192 YGLs from 59 countries, all of whom were chosen for their outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to society.

Wednesday 4th July, Barbican Hall, 1.45pm - June Sarpong MBE

June Sarpong MBE is an established TV Presenter, who has enjoyed a 20-year career, in which she has become one of the most recognisable faces of British television, as well as being one of the UK’s most intelligent and dynamic hosts; comfortable interviewing politicians, celebrities and members of the public, even interviewing Tony Blair for an exclusive special, ‘When Tony Met June’ in 2005, with unprecedented access to the then British Prime Minister.

June has taken on the world’s most challenging live audiences, hosting 2005’s major Make Poverty History event in London’s Trafalgar Square and presenting at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 alongside Will Smith she also hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.

June has worked extensively with HRH Prince Charles for ten years as an ambassador for his charity the Prince’s Trust. June was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to broadcasting and charity, making her one of the youngest ever people to receive an MBE.

June is the co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise). WIE first launched in New York in 2010, and then in the UK 2012. This acclaimed conference has featured leading speakers from a wide range of industries, with previous speakers including Sarah Brown, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan, Queen Rania, Nancy Pelosi and Iman.

In 2016, June was announced as the official ambassador for Superdrug’s Shades of Beauty campaign, to tackle product inequality in high street beauty, with the aim of making it more accessible for black and Asian women to shop affordably on the high street.

In 2017, she released her first book, ‘Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration’, which argues the case for the social, moral and economic benefits of diversity, whilst also exploring how limited we are by social division thus inspiring us to make a change.

June’s inspiring plenary presentation will focus on the topic of diversity and consider how we create and use stereotypes, and how they negatively impact our social interactions both overtly and covertly.

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