Londoner Diary: Curatorial Donor Named New National Gallery President



Welcome to the Londoner’s Journal. First, we learn that another Conservative donor has been appointed to a leading London institution. Later today, Garden Museum director Christopher Woodward tells us about his unfortunate encounter with a swan while trying to raise funds for his institution and Theresa May tells us how she found out about it. Nando’s cheeky habit of his former colleague. In SW1A, David Davis tells us that working in a virtual parliament was like holding a parish council in a barn.

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Another conservative donor has been named at a leading London institution. John Booth, an entrepreneur, will be the new president of the National Gallery, replacing former BBC managing director Lord Hall.

Booth’s appointment follows government pressure to get more sympathetic figures on the boards of cultural institutions. As Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told a think tank earlier this year that “the left has been making these decisions silently for years,” accused the left of “pushing” cultural institutions, and added that the government was not afraid to wade through such rows. . A director of the Science Museum Group resigned in March, accusing the government of ignoring the ‘long-established principle of independent bodies’, while another director of the Royal Museums in Greenwich was blocked.

Booth donated £ 207,000 to the curators four years ago, the Art Newspaper reported. Carphone Warehouse billionaire David Ross, another Tory donor, stepped down as chairman of the Royal Opera House this year. He also chairs the National Portrait Gallery.


RPO 75 years young

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its 75th anniversary with an emotional concert at the Royal Albert Hall last night. New artistic director Vasily Petrenko was delighted to find the “music” again, directing royal wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason in an Elgar concerto.

James Williams, chief executive of RPO, told the Londoner that while there is “progress being made” on the post-Brexit EU touring issues, with 19 countries offering visa waivers, others operational costs “began to pinch”. Such issues make Petrenko’s choice of ‘great British music’ in a European context for its first season a sharp attempt to ‘remember as an island that Europe has so informed about our cultural life and our heritage’.

Meanwhile, the orchestra is moving its headquarters to Brent, in part for outreach reasons, “bringing orchestral music to an audience that would otherwise never have the opportunity to engage.” A Wembley Featured Show Inviting You?



David Davis has little time for the resounding void of Virtual Parliament. “It was like having a parish council in a barn,” he says. “Where is the emotion, where is the fear, where is the anger? The former Brexit secretary underlined the government’s defeat in the face of the Syrian intervention in 2014 when “we knew we had displaced 20 votes. You couldn’t have done it in a barn ”.

Sir Mark Sedwill knows how to keep up appearances. The former UK official – and chairman of the Special Forces Club – was also at the launch of Gavin Barwell’s book last night. Did he have a favorite memory of working with the former No. 10 chief of staff? “That’s not what I’m going to tell you,” he told us. Whatever happened, it seems impossible to print. Attractive.


Latest adventure for fashion enthusiasts

Jourdan Dunn

/ Dave benett

MISAN HARRIMAN, the new President of Southbank, joined Fashion Director Giovanna Engelbert at Annabel’s during the British Fashion Council’s Changemakers Prize on the last night of London Fashion Week. Singer Ellie Goulding, model Jourdan Dunn and activist Munroe Bergdorf also partied. Model Erin O’Connor was also at dinner and earlier that evening was at the Roundhouse for the Cos AW21 show.


‘May had an ear for my cheeky Nando’s’

Therese May

/ Getty Images

Theresa May cheered on her former colleague Gavin Barwell at the launch of her book Chief of Staff: Notes From Downing Street last night, but admitted he had his weaknesses. When May called her on a Friday night, there was always a distinct background noise, she told the Londoner. “There was only one sentence you could say, ‘Gavin, are you at Nando’s?’ The answer, it seems, was always yes. “He’s an honest cop,” Barwell conceded. “One of the pressure releases was a late Nando Friday night. She was very good at telling from background noise. Peripheral perceptual.


Nil hits the wrong note

Nil Rodgers

/ Nil Rodgers

NILE RODGERS tells us that there has been a “seismic shift” in the music industry from the 1970s. “I work mostly with women,” Chic guitarist said at the Ivor Awards. Novello yesterday at the Grosvenor Hotel in Mayfair. “When I started in the business and they walked into the studio, they looked at the console like it was a 747, now… I work with so many women who don’t are not afraid of the equipment. ” A valiant, if very unfortunate, attempt to strike a progressive note.


Swimming was almost swan song

Director of the Christopher Woodward Garden Museum

/ Director of the Christopher Woodward Garden Museum

Garden Museum director Christopher Woodward put himself in danger when he joined forces to keep Lambeth’s institution afloat during the pandemic. Last night at a party for the Constance Spry exhibit, he told us about training for his 50-mile fundraising swim in Richmond and the unexpected loving attentions of a swan, possibly seduced by her white bathing cap. “It was like real life Leda and the Swan,” he shuddered.


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