The newly selected chief executive for the city's art hub has impressed the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority with his experience in drawing up strategies in Europe's biggest multi-arts centre. Graham Sheffield joined the Barbican multi-arts centre in London as an artistic director in 1995. During his 15 years' service, he has been responsible for all programming across various art forms, including music, theatre, dance, visual arts and cinema. It sold 1.2 million tickets and saw attendance surge 13 per cent in the year ending March 31. The centre was opened in 1982 and presents arts and educational events. It is home to the London and BBC symphony orchestras. The centre comprises two theatres, two art galleries and other informal performance spaces, including three restaurants, seven conference halls and two trade exhibition halls. The Hong Kong arts hub will have a proposed 15 performing venues and a museum. 'I don't look that old, but I have 20 years of senior experience in two great art centres - both in London - leading diverse programming, building audience trust, diversity, building audience numbers and making a complex art centre work,' Sheffield said yesterday, after the announcement of his appointment by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, the authority's chairman. 'That at least gives me the experience to try to come and help you do the same.' The uneasy relationship between the subsidised arts and politics seems to be a topic of special interest to Sheffield. He gave a talk on the topic, titled 'Art and politics: a marriage of inconvenience', at Hong Kong's New Vision Arts Festival in 2002, sharing his experience at the Barbican. In 2007, Sheffield - to the surprise of the British arts world - was not chosen to step up to the post of managing director of the Barbican with the retirement of Sir John Tusa. The Guardian said Sheffield had made no secret of his desire to take over. Sheffield lost the position to Nicholas Kenyon, controller of the BBC Proms, a most-sought after job in classical music. He told the paper that he was 'not going to go off in a huff'. Before his appointment as artistic director of the Barbican, Sheffield was music director of the South Bank Centre (Royal Festival Hall) for five years and a producer in the BBC's music department for 13 years. He was awarded a CBE early this year. In 2005, he was named a Chevalier de I'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, recognising his contribution to the arts. Before commencing his career, he studied at Edinburgh University where he received a degree in music. He was made Doctor of Arts by City University in London in 2004. A keen pianist, he is also described as being passionate about cricket and skiing. Sheffield described himself as good networker when meeting the local press yesterday. He said that being an arts adviser for the British Council, which has strong presence in Hong Kong and the mainland, had put him in a good position and he was familiar with other leading arts professionals in the Asia-Pacific region. His new position pays more than HK$3 million a year, but yesterday neither Tang nor Sheffield would disclose the exact salary, which Tang said would be revealed in the authority's annual report.