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The role

About Southwark:

Southwark is a large, ambitious and forward-thinking council with a ‘can do’ attitude and enviable reputation. Extending from the river Thames into South East London, Southwark encompasses some of the capital’s cultural hotspots, vibrant communities and acclaimed greenspaces. Southwark is proud of its diverse communities, with over 120 languages spoken, and is committed to making a real difference to the quality of life for local people. 

Southwark is a borough at the forefront of culture - whether that’s driving innovation in libraries and providing a lifeline through delivering books to housebound and older residents, using culture and events to help bring communities together, or providing services shaped by our young people, that support the best start in life. We have a resolute commitment to developing a fairer, greener and safer borough; this underpins everything we do.

Southwark Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

The Role:

This is a pivotal role, developing and leading key services which are at the forefront of our communities -i.e. libraries, heritage, culture, arts, events and youth & play services. 

Key priorities include: the implementation of an exciting new approach to services for young people, putting their voices at the heart of delivery; driving further innovation across the library service; and keeping Southwark at the forefront of London’s vibrant cultural scene.  The role will require significant energy, enthusiasm and determination. Whilst experience of youth work is not essential, a passion for ensuring young people enjoy a positive future most certainly is. We want to ensure that our cultural services are vibrant, enticing, and outstanding. This role is key to making this happen.

As Head of Cultural Services, you will maintain and develop the service as a centre of excellence, taking the professional leadership role for the Council across all these services.

About You:

Do you share Southwark’s passion for culture? Have you got the vision, skills and leadership qualities to help shape our services so they make a meaningful impact on the quality of our residents’ lives? Are you excited about the potential that these services offer, and are you driven to build on great practice to deliver something outstanding?

We are looking for a dedicated, energetic individual to drive forward our borough’s cultural provision and to help us protect and shape our services for future generations. We want someone who has the experience and drive to build on what’s good and to have a laser focus on how to make it even better; someone who is able to successfully lead complex change which really delivers better outcomes for local people.  You’ll need experience of managing services like these at a senior level and importantly, you’ll need in-depth knowledge and practical experience of making change happen. You will be ideally qualified to degree level or equivalent, with direct experience of most of the following services - libraries, culture and arts, youth and play.

Benefits and more information:

From flexible working to job sharing (where possible) we are committed to providing a healthy work life balance. You will benefit from 33 days basic annual leave (plus bank holidays), rising to 36 days with continuous service, a generous local government salary related pension, cycle to work and cycle loan scheme, season-ticket loan, confidential wellbeing and counselling support. For more information about the wide variety of benefits you can take advantage of please visit our Staff Benefits page.

Additional details

This post attracts an additional JNC financial benefits package of £3,503 per annum (pro-rata, April - March).

This is a full-time role which requires some evening and weekend working. Applications for job sharing or secondments will be considered.

Recruitment timetable


Closing date: Monday 13th February, 2023 at 23:59
Stakeholder Panel: Monday 27th February 2022
Interviews: Friday 3rd and/or Monday 6th March 2023


We are an organisation who is passionate about our people and understands that richness of diversity is a requirement to provide the best possible services to our communities. This is demonstrated through our council-wide ambitious commitment to tackle racial inequality in our communities and workforce through our Southwark Stands Together programme. We particularly welcome applications from members of the Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to increase representation at senior management level in the Council.