Sinking South Bank Centre appoints classical music chief

Sinking South Bank Centre appoints classical music chief


norman lebrecht

November 04, 2020

London’s Southbank Centre has recruited Toks Dada as head of classical music from next month.

He is presently classical programme manager at Birmingham’s Town Hall Symphony Hall, where he has one orchestra to deal with. At the South Bank he’ll have a fistfull, all angry at the centre’s steady dereliction of classical music.

We wish him well.

From his bio:

Progressive in his thinking, most recently Toks presented new approaches to attracting new audiences and engaging young people at the International Society for the Performing Arts Congress and the Association of British Orchestras Conference.

Toks has previously been a Board Director of Sinfonia Cymru, Executive Chair of REPCo (a student arts enterprise initiative based at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama), and a participant on the Association of British Orchestras’ Find Your Way programme for senior and emerging leaders.

Toks holds a Masters in Arts Management and Bachelor of Music degree from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.



  • Bored Muso says:

    Even his experiences and masters degree in arts management will be useless in this poisoned chalice role….

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, I’ve had a scan through google and he strikes me as a good hire. Young, a “person of colour,” interesting experience, receptive to new music, and a massive social media presence. He looks like someone who will give it a good shot.

      On the downside: he’s in no position to fill a hall.

      But he must be used to challenges. He’s a violist.

  • Adrienne says:

    ‘presented new approaches to attracting new audiences’

    Fine, so long as he doesn’t lose the existing ones in the process.


    It’s a brilliant appointment by SBC. He is uniquely qualified to help turn it around. We should ALL wish him well

  • Papageno says:

    i always find it interesting Asian orchestras would hire white players (mainly principals) to lend themselves more respectability.

  • Such an exciting appointment. London is lucky to have Toks – we’ll miss him very much in Brum, but we’re thrilled for him.

  • Barbara says:

    “Presently” means soon in British English e.g The doctor will see you presently but he is busy with another patient now.

    • V.Lind says:

      Oh, thank you — I do so like to see that word, and “enormity,” used correctly (the latter is lost also, I fear).

    • Neowiser says:

      “The two apparently contradictory meanings of presently, “in a little while, soon” and “at the present time, now,” are both old in the language. In the latter meaning presently dates back to the 15th century. It is currently in standard use in all varieties of speech and writing in both Great Britain and the United States. The sense “soon” arose gradually during the 16th century. Strangely, it is the older sense “now” that is sometimes objected to by usage guides. The two senses are rarely if ever confused in actual practice. Presently meaning “now” is most often used with the present tense ( The professor is presently on sabbatical leave ) and presently meaning “soon” often with the future tense ( The supervisor will be back presently ). “

      So, note that Mr Lebrecht’s usage is correct in that it is in the present tense.

      • V.Lind says:

        Ta. I knew that, actually. I just opt not to use “presently” when mean “currently” but I admit it is a preference. I find when it is used to mean “soon” the sign of grammatical sophistication, but its other usage is not a sign of its absence.

  • Nicholas Ennos says:

    It will be yet another failed attempt to market classical music to young people and ethnic minorities.

    • V.Lind says:

      I think they may want to bring it to more than that, and it looks to me as f this young man is clearly minded as to what it takes to build audiences. I am not predisposed to predicted his failure.He, or anyone in that position, certainly has a hard row to hoe, but there is nothing in his c.v. to suggest he is not as up to it as anyone with the guts to take it on.

  • Fred Perry says:

    What is very surprising is that this role was recruited for ‘on the quiet’ and wasn’t publicly advertised, only through a headhunter. Not great for a institution in receipt of so much public funding.