ROSIE Millard is looking forward to being the cheerleader for Firstsite.

As the new chairman of the gallery in Lewis Garden’s she will be spending a lot of time celebrating the virtues of the site.

Rosie, 53, a former BBC arts correspondent says her new role plays to her strong points.

She said: “I have been a hack for a long, long time – I’m good on the radio, I’m good on TV and I am good online.

“And I am really chatty so I think I can be an effective advocate for Firstsite should Sally [Shaw, Firstsite director] want that.

“If she wants me to be a cheerleader on the side lines I am happy.”

Rosie, who is also chairman of BBC Children in Need and Children and the Arts, has taken over from interim chairman Professor Atul K Shah.

READ MORE: Rosie Millard joins Firstsite as chair of board of trustees

Prof Shah was appointed after former chairman Dr Noorzaman Rashid left the leadership team amid ongoing questions about his links to a firm which the gallery paid for work.

Rosie, now a freelance journalist and broadcaster, is passionate about art.

She started her career at a gallery in Newcastle and in 2014 was appointed chairman for Hull City of Culture.

Her work on the project, which saw 2,800 events organised, earned her an OBE.


For her, Firstsite epitomises what art is all about.

She said: “It is so important to have places like Firstsite. You don’t want to have to get on a train and have to go on a pilgrimage just to see something worth seeing.

“London has become a bit of a black hole – it is a wonderful place – but if we are not careful all the money, all the work and all the art is going there.

“It is important for towns like Colchester and Hull and Newcastle and Leicester to have places of culture which can flourish in their own terms for the community and for visitors.

“Colchester is an amazing town and I am really looking forward to getting to know it.”

Rosie started her new role at the opening of Susan Pui San Lok’s exhibition A Coven A Grove A Stand.

She believes galleries and art should be accessible for all – and says it is something Firstsite encompasses. She said: “Galleries are like libraries. Libraries are really important and not everybody can get to Waterstone’s to get a book.

“At Firstsite you can look and see not only a connection to the locality but also first class shows by people like Grayson Perry and Susan.”

Rosie did not have the smoothest of starts to her commuting from London after it took her five hours to do a 50-minute journey.

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She said: “On my first day I turned up for Susan’s show. It was really lovely and there were lots of trustees there and lovely to see the councillors.

“It got to 8pm and I needed to get home to London. I got on a train but there had been a problem further up the line and we were all told to get off at Chelmsford. In the end I didn’t get home until 1am after a journey involving a black cab, Uber, bus, taxi and a train.”

But Rosie is optimistic about Firstsite’s future. In 2017/18, the gallery attracted 156,000 visitors, the highest annual visitor figures since the gallery opened in 2011.

Rosie believes director Sally Shaw is leading the gallery to success.

She said: “I have known Sally for a long time.

“I knew she had gone to Firstsite and I was impressed with what she was doing there and what she is continuing to do.

“She is a real star in the arts world. She is dynamic and she has a real sense of community engagement.”

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