The BFI announced two highly anticipated appointments to its new executive director board. Appointed by BFI chief executive Ben Roberts, the new roles will work closely with him to build and deliver the BFI’s ten-year strategic vision. Arike Oke joins the BFI in January as executive director of knowledge & collections, where she will lead the teams at the BFI National Archive and BFI Reuben Library – one of the largest and most important collections of film and television in the world – and lead on strategic support for the UK-wide screen heritage sector. Jason Wood has been appointed executive director of public programmes & audiences, where he will lead the BFI’s audience development strategies through public programmes and education initiatives – in venue, across the UK and online.
BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: “I’m so thrilled that Arike and Jason are joining the BFI. We have a vision of transforming access to our programmes, our collections, and to screen culture across the UK, and Arike and Jason bring passion and wisdom in spades. I’m very happy to welcome them to the BFI as we start an exciting new chapter together.”
As BFI director of knowledge and collections Arike Oke will set and deliver the strategy for the BFI National Archive and Reuben Library, the world-leading archive of the moving image and one of the UK’s premier national collections. She will reframe the public’s relationship with the BFI’s collections and the UK’s regional and national archives, telling the story of the art, history and impact of the moving image with a focus on digital accessibility.
Arike’s role involves ensuring the BFI continues to collect, preserve and restore a broad range of historical and contemporary moving image, and related special collections and library material, representing film, television and digital media including immersive work and videogames. She will lead teams of curators, archivists and conservationists at the BFI National Archive John Paul Getty Jnr Conservation Centre in Berkhamsted, the BFI’s Master Film Store at Gaydon, Warwickshire and London locations BFI Stephen Street and BFI Southbank.
Arike Oke said: “I’m delighted to be given this rare opportunity to lead the nation’s greatest treasury of moving image heritage, the BFI National Collection, into fulfilling the ambitions of the BFI, the knowledge and collections experts, and the public. From my earliest memories of soaking up Nigerian TV and Bollywood films as a child, through preserving dance history on film at Rambert, and celebrating Black film with BCA’s Black Lens film festival, the diversity of screen heritage has shaped me. Now I am honoured with the opportunity to look into a digital future for the BFI National Collection. I can’t wait to get started.”
Arike joins the BFI from the Black Cultural Archives, where she was managing director since 2019, revitalising the home of Black British history and developing a ten-year strategy with the BCA board. She previously worked as an archivist for the collections of Welcome Trust and Rambert, in audience development at the Hull History Centre and on strategic boards with The National Archives and the Mayor of London. Arike is a registered archivist, curator and museology consultant, currently advising the National Archives, BAFTA’s Heritage Committee and was an invited member of the Home Office’s Windrush Working Group. She is a Group Board member at Notting Hill Genesis, and is a fellow of the Arts Council’s Museums and Resilient Leadership programme.
In the newly created role of director of public programmes and audiences, Jason Wood will become one of the BFI’s key cultural leaders, shaping the editorial voice of the BFI and advocating for the power of the moving image. Jason’s leadership will drive the BFI’s objectives to broaden audiences and public and community engagement for its public programmes across the UK and internationally and focus on the organisation’s ‘digital-first’ direction, and the growth of BFI Player. Jason¡¦s remit also includes the programme and events at BFI Southbank, the BFI London Film Festival, Education and Learning activity – including the BFI Film Academy, BFI membership strategy, Sight and Sound and the UK-wide audience development activities funded by the National Lottery.
Jason Wood said: “I am delighted to be joining the BFI as Executive Director of Public Programme and Audiences. We are at a time of great change but also stand at a moment of great opportunity. Under the impressive leadership of Ben Roberts, someone I am very much looking forward to collaborating with, the organisational goal is to increase access to the moving image and to remind of the power of culture as a bonding and unifying force. We want to take audiences on a virtual and physical journey, celebrating film in all its diversity; acknowledging its rich heritage whilst also plotting a course towards its future. I want to thank HOME and particularly CEO Dave Moutrey for a wonderful 6 years. HOME will always have a place in my heart and I will carry with me the spirit of Manchester and the need to represent both metropolitan and rural areas.”
Jason is currently creative director for film & culture at HOME, Manchester, one of the UK’s leading centres for international contemporary art, theatre and film. He is also a Research Professor of Film at the Manchester School of Art. Jason was formerly Director of Programming at Curzon Cinemas, and is author and co-editor of several major publications including The Faber Book of New British Cinema, The Faber Book of Mexican Cinema volumes 1 & 2, 100 Road Movies, 100 American Independent Films. Throughout his career, Jason has been a passionate champion of British and international cinema, spanning cultural and commercial roles in both distribution and exhibition. In this new role he will divide his time between Manchester and London.
Arike and Jason join the BFI’s restructured executive board, led by Chief Executive Ben Roberts. The executive board includes Harriet Finney, deputy CEO and director of corporate and industry affairs, and Francesca Vinti executive director of fundraising and enterprise. Alyson Hagan joined the BFI as executive director of finance, people and business operations in September and is based in Glasgow. The recruitment process for an executive director of technology and digital transformation is also underway.