CBE for Brixton House chair David Bryan

portrait of man
David Bryan

David Bryan, chair of the board of Brixton House theatre, and also chair of Battersea Arts Centre, has been awarded a CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire – for services to the arts in today’s Queen’s birthday honours.

As chair of Brixton House, he is overseeing the creation of a theatre in Brixton at the junction of Coldharbour Lane and Somerleyton Road.

A leading figure in the arts, Bryan’s first venture into the area was running a bookshop in Brixton 1976 that specialised in Black literature and children’s books.

He went on to stage the first Black book fair in the UK.

He later developed Black Ink, based in Coldharbour Lane, a community publishing project to record the stories and poems of Black lives in Brixton.

Bryan became one of the first Black directors of an art and community centre in 1984, and possibly the youngest.

He led a multi-million-pound adaptation and renovation of what was also a landmark church in the centre of Brixton into a community arts centre.

Brixton House theatre on Coldharboiur Lane under construction

The arts programming was popular, attracted audiences and led to an award from Time Out for creating audiences for diverse work.

One of the programming successes was the development of Black comedy and cabaret.

He later developed The Black Comedy Club, touring venues around the country, and creating a market for others to develop.

Leaving Brixton, his first arts contract was with the National Theatre.

He established the Onyxarts Foundation and produced three successful, sold-out seasons of Black contemporary dance in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre.

He produced theatre and music festivals at Greenwich Theatre, the Commonwealth Institute and elsewhere.

He was for several years a consultant to arts organisations, the Arts Council of England and also organisations not in the arts. 

After studying for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Bryan became a management consultant, providing training and consultancy in the arts, not-for-profit and public sectors.

He is a member of Arts Council England’s national council.

close-up of women's face

Skunk Anansie’s Skin was awarded an OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – for services to music under her given name, Deborah Ann Dyer.

 “Not bad for an skinny Black girl from Brixton who fell in love with Rock & Roll!!,” she told her Instagram followers.

Luol Deng with Year 7 students from Ark Evelyn Grace Academy
Luol Deng in 2019 with Year 7 students from Brixton’s Ark Evelyn Grace Academy, with principal Tim Dainty and Mareca Laing, assistant associate principal and head of key stage 3

Former Brixton Topcats Basketball player Luol Deng, who went on to be an NBA star, was awarded an OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – for services to basketball.

Brixton-born opera singer Nadine Benjamin was awarded an MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire – for services to opera.