Denys Hodson (1928-2013)

The late Denys Hodson, former BFI governor and deputy chair, was a tireless champion of the arts at both regional and national level.

Samuel Wigley
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Denys Hodson

Denys Hodson

Denys Hodson, who died on 13 January aged 84, was a passionate and energetic advocate of the arts, a BFI Governor from 1976-87 and deputy chair from 1985-87. He was head of arts and recreation for Swindon Borough Council for 22 years, vice president of the Arts Council of Great Britain between 1989 and 1994, as well as chairman of Southern Arts, director of the Oxford Playhouse, a governor of Wyvern Arts Trust, and chairman of the council of the Regional Arts Associations.

Born on 23 May 1928 in Northleach, Gloucestershire, he was the son of Reverend Harold Hodson, who won the Military Cross during the British campaign in Salonika during the First World War. Schooled at Marlborough College after his family moved to a rectory in Bedale, North Yorkshire, Hodson later did National Service with the Palestine Police in Jerusalem.

Reading history at Trinity College, Oxford, he subsequently started management training at Imperial Tobacco before moving into the advertising industry in the 1950s. His career in the cultural sector began as controller, and later director, of arts and recreation for Swindon Borough Council.

During this tenure, he re-energised the city’s arts and leisure facilities, with developments including the Wyvern Theatre and Thamesdown Community Arts. The latter was instrumental to the early career of film director David Yates, now famous for his entries in the Harry Potter series, who received funding from Thamesdown for his short film When I Was Girl (1988).

Building on his local reputation as a champion of the arts, Hodson was appointed to several high-profile roles on the national stage, beginning his relationship with the BFI as a governor in 1976 and later serving as deputy chair under Sir Richard Attenborough.

He was awarded a CBE for his services to the arts in 1981.

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