Southbank Centre has appointed the current Manchester International Festival (MIF) creative director, Mark Ball, as artistic director.

Ball will join the multi-arts centre in January and will be tasked with driving a broader UK-wide reach and expand the organisation’s digital offer.

Ball, who is chair of Belarus Free Theatre in London, will report to CEO Elaine Bedell and will be responsible for the delivery of the Southbank Centre’s entire artistic programme.

In his current role at MIF, Ball is responsible for leading the artistic programme for The Factory – a new cultural space currently being built in Manchester. He was previously artistic director and chief executive of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), head of events and exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and artistic director of Fierce Festival in Birmingham.

Ball said, “I’m keen to build on the unique legacy of the Southbank Centre, which emerged from the Festival of Britain, and build a bold, inclusive and collaborative international programme that’s seared with artistic innovation and experiment and that excites the imaginations of artists and audiences across London and the UK.”

Bedell said: “As we enter a new era, Mark will bring a uniting vision to our mix of music, visual art, literature and performance. He has a clear and ambitious vision for the artistic future of the Southbank Centre, with excellence, digital innovation and international collaboration at its heart.”

Southbank Centre chair Misan Harriman said, “Mark will bring a fresh perspective on how we deliver a cultural programme that appeals to the many audiences we serve, and I’m excited at how he will also bring new energy and innovation to the remarkable artistic community we work with.

“Lockdown has shown us how many people turned to culture, both online and outside, so we’re aware of huge potential as we explore new ways to bring arts to our communities.”