Keith Lucas: Artist and visionary arts administrator


I'm not sure that there would have been a Canterbury Festival without Keith Lucas, who died on 23 March. Keith was a visionary, as strong in determination as he was gentle in his friendships. He was an artist, both at the easel and on film.

He was born in Beckenham on 28August 1924, his Who's Who entrylisting his education as having been at the Royal College of Art, as if that were all that really mattered. He was Professor of Film and Television therefrom 1964 till 1972 and he then became, for six years, Director of the BritishFilm Institute. In 1980 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Commonwealth Film and TV Festival, andhe was Head of Radio, Film andTelevision studies at Christ Church College (now University) for five years in the 1980s.

He was at the heart of the first stirrings of the cultural revolution that has benefited East Kent so richly over the past 40 years. He was Chair of Canterbury New Theatre Ltd, which set out, as its name implies, to build a theatre to raise the cultural sights of our community and to establish Kent Opera in a new and permanent home in Canterbury. He worked with Kent Opera's Lady Marie Sygne Northbourne, Robin Jessel and Norman Platt and a growing team of enthusiasts in pursuit of a strategy that was disrupted only by the Arts Council's sudden and unwise decision to withdraw funding from Kent Opera.

But an important part of the strategy survived. The then Canterbury City Council had found £2 million to buy and convert the old Odeon Cinema, and with Keith as its Chairman, the fledgling Canterbury Festival set out to follow the dream that Keith expressed thus in his first chairman's message in 1984: "For those of us fortunate enough to be close to Canterbury the establishment of a major Arts Festival should provide a focus for the growing cultural vitality of the City and its significance as a historic centre of the region." The Festival should be, he said, "a focus of pleasure and enrichment for local inhabitants and visitors alike."

Keith chaired the Canterbury Festival until 1986, when he became its first President, a post he held until ill-health forced his retirement in 2007. Mark Deller, who was an inspiration during those formative years of cultural growth, and became the Festival's Director, remembers Keith as "a key player in the revival of the Canterbury Festival. I greatly valued his calm and wise council; he was a talented artist and, combined with his wife Rona's great knowledge of music, his breadth of knowledge of the arts was considerable."

As an artist, Keith was a regular contributor to what was known as "the East Kent School", which embraced John Ward, John Doyle, Jehan Daly and Gordon Davies, and he was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art. During their years in Kent, Keith and Rona gathered talented friends around them at their home at the Old School House, Bishopsbourne, gatherings much missed since they moved back to London some years ago.

Peter Williams

Peter Williams is President of the Canterbury Festival and Chair of Trustees, Marlowe Theatre Development Trust

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, colleague or family member please send a piece of no more than 400 words by email to or by post to Obituaries, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. We reserve the right to edit copy for length and style.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home