THE new South West Area Chair of Arts Council England has been appointed, starting from December 5.

Helen Birchenough has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a term of four years.

Helen has been involved in the arts and education in Wiltshire for 20 years.

She was Chair of both the Salisbury Playhouse and Salisbury International Arts Festival and led the Festival into merger with the theatre and Salisbury Arts Centre to become the new pan-arts organisation that is Wiltshire Creative.

She is also a Trustee of Wiltshire Creative.

Driven by the power of the arts and education to change lives, Helen is a strong believer in the importance of further education and vocational training.

She was Chair of Wiltshire College for five years, leading the College through a period of transformational change.

Helen also chairs the education panel at Wiltshire Community Foundation, giving grants to young people to access educational resources and services and bursaries to those who could not otherwise go to university. She is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire.

She is a non-executive director of Messums Wiltshire, a pioneering multi- purpose gallery and art centre in a fourteenth century tithe barn in Tisbury.

Her working life started in advertising and brand development and she has always enjoyed working with creative people and the creative process.

This appointment has been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Under the Code, any significant political activity undertaken by an appointee in the last five years must be declared. This is defined as including holding office, public speaking, making a recordable donation, or candidature for election. Helen has declared no such political activity.