Success Stories

Arts Emergency - Recruitment of a Chair

About Arts Emergency

Arts Emergency approached TPP Recruitment with their search to find a new Chair as their founding Chair was stepping down. Arts Emergency is a mentoring charity and support network. Since 2013 they have worked to address the inequalities in the creative and cultural sectors. Founded in Hackney by two friends, activist Neil Griffiths and comedian, Josie Long, they now support 1300 brilliant young people across the UK, providing guidance so they can chart their own course and create connections to help them get ahead.

Arts Emergency logo

Challenges in recruiting for a Chair

It was an exciting time to join the charity as they were conducting a strategic review to inform their direction and update their mission and extend impact. They were expanding to meet the urgent need for their support having grown fivefold since 2016 and were aiming to work with up to 2,000 young people by 2024/25. It was critical they had an effective Board who could help them shape the future of the organisation and an approachable Chair who could support the CEO. 

It was paramount that the Chair had ‘lived’ experience. They needed to understand the barriers faced by young people from underrepresented backgrounds, had been through a similar journey and had forged a career themselves in the arts. 

They would be required to be a figurehead for the organisation – someone who could be an inspiration and role model for the young people they work with, as well as being an influential changemaker and advocate, who could promote Arts Emergency commitment to social justice across the creative industry and government. 

They needed to be passionate about supporting young people to realise their potential and create a creative culture that’s inclusive for all.

Services Delivered

TPP carried out a headhunting campaign based on industry research and followed up with some professionals recommended by Arts Emergency. This was supplemented by database search and online marketing on several specific job boards including Charity Jobs, Women on Board, Black on Board, and Evenbreak. The role was promoted extensively across several social media platforms and across design, advertising, publishing, arts and architecture networking groups – all discovered as part of TPP’s pre-search work.

For the headhunting search, TPP identified 38 influential spokespeople within the arts and creative industries and made approaches.

TPP received 16 formal applications from a total of 51 expressions of interest.

Based on lived experience, arts/creative industry knowledge, board experience, strategic leadership and ambassadorial ability, 9 candidates were longlisted for assessment by the TPP team and these candidates were interviewed against competency-based criteria that had been designed for this role.

An in-depth report was submitted with a recommendation to interview 4 candidates.

Following discussions with the hiring team at Arts Emergency, TPP were aware that there was also the potential to add two new Trustees the Board.

When briefing candidates, TPP also asked candidates if they would be open to a Trustee role if they were unsuccessful with the Chair position. TPP made Arts Emergency aware of those who would consider this as an option.

TPP facilitated pre-chats with the CEO, prior to interview.

All candidates were supported with interview Trustee guidance and preparation.

two women smiling

Results Achieved

The interview panel were delighted with the candidates interviewed and successfully appointed a Chair

They were the CEO of one of the largest publishers in the UK and had been recognised as one of the UK’s most powerful leaders and publishing innovators whilst also receiving high accolade for their work introducing inclusive workplace policy. They were a motivational and influential spokesperson, who were passionate about levelling up. They’d spoken at schools and advocated literacy and arts with government and other business leaders. They came from a large first-generation migrant family and knew first-hand the barriers faced in forging a career: “I’m the person who had zero knowledge, low-social economic background, no connections, no role models and had to fight for everything I achieved.”

Arts Emergency subsequently offered two of the other candidates Trustee positions.

One had forged a highly successful career in media, had been a head of department, broadcaster, journalist, director columnist and inclusion leader working for leading TV channels and leading publications. They had also developed a groundbreaking broadcast training programme whose diverse alumni had gone on to take up positions across UK’s TV broadcasters and creative industries. 

The other was Head of Innovation at an organisation that champions social mobility through programmes research and policy influence. They had extensive education experience running initiatives and mentoring programmes for young people. They were highly experienced in youth policy and youth advocacy and had advised the government on policies for young people. They had previously been a Trustee and had a very good understanding of board governance, had led on multiple strategic reviews and supported CEO’s to set new visions and growth programmes.

Diversity Data


"I am Neil, I have worked in the third sector for my entire 22 year career and founded Arts Emergency in 2013. I’ve been CEO since 2015. Turning over our founding Board of Trustees was a big deal, and as a charity started by people who had lived experience of the cause it was so important that our new Chair also brought that to the leadership of our organisation. We also had some very specific requirements around professional knowledge and experience and TPP did a fantastic job shortlisting some very exciting people, and I’m delighted to say that we have found a Chair person who embodies everything we stand for, and also brings a high level of business knowledge and leadership to the role. We were so lucky to interview four amazing women, and ended up with two new Trustees from the pool as well. TPP kept those candidates warm for us while we went through the necessary steps to sign off those new positions, and we are now in such a great position to kick on and are currently making our first three year business plan. Thanks Team."

Neil Griffiths, Chief Executive, Arts Emergency

"I am Binda and I have been a Trustee at various charities for over the past 12 years. My journey into Trusteeship first started as a young Trustee for the Diana Award, and I’ve held several roles since, including my current role at Arts Emergency. A report by the Civil Society found that 1 in 12 Trustees are called either John or David, 92% are white, and the average age of Trustees is 62. This totally jarred with me – the UK is vibrant, diverse, and inclusive, and yet our charities don’t represent this at the most senior levels. Being a Trustee is my way of challenging the status quo. As a woman, a person of colour, and the daughter of migrant parents, I bring a different perspective and offer valuable insights and diversity of thought – all things that can be hugely beneficial to organisations. It’s also great to share the knowledge I have gained throughout my career and use this to influence and enhance their work. I have also grown as a result of being a Trustee. I have gained skills, built my understanding of how charities operate, and developed my professional network. It really is a win-win! I am really enjoying my time at Arts Emergency – they deliver high-impact programmes for young people and it’s fab to know that I have played a small part in the organisation’s journey."

Binda Bhudia, Trustee, Arts Emergency

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