Yoko Ono, who will celebrate her 80th birthday next year (on 18th Feb 2013) has today been announced as the director of Southbank Centre’s Meltdown Festival 2013.

In curating the festival in its 20th anniversary year, the iconic musician and artist follows in the footsteps of some of music’s biggest names including David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker and Massive Attack.

Worldwide cultural icon Yoko Ono brings a lifetime of achievement in music, visual art and peace activism to Southbank Centre.

Yoko Ono’s Meltdown (14th – 23rd June 2013) will be led by the artist’s dedication to music across all genres, environmentalism, feminism and peace.

As well as featuring iconic names from the world of music and arts, Meltdown will at the same time be an opportunity to discover new and emerging talent from around the world.

For 20 years Meltdown has invited internationally renowned musicians to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences at Southbank Centre. Tasking artists to take over the 21-acre artistic site, Meltdown is renowned for unique events and artist-led programming, from Jeff Buckley’s final UK show, to the New York Dolls reuniting, and a rare live performance from Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser.

Yoko Ono is no stranger to the festival, having performed as part of both Patti Smith’s Meltdown in 2005 and Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown in 2009, and her return for the 2013 festival promises to have 10 days of not-to-be missed performances.

Yoko Ono said today: “I am deeply honoured to curate the world-famous Meltdown Festival. In doing so I am aware of the great tradition of experimentalism mixed with classicism that has made the festival such an enduring part of the British Arts landscape. I am now starting to approach names from all over the world, some of whom you will know and some who might be new to your world. Let the fun begin! ”.

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Jude Rogers & Jane Beese – Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4

Yoko Ono to Curate Meltdown at Southbank Centre, London, UK in 2013
Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, Thursday 8 November 2012
Jenni Murray speaks to Jude Rogers, music journalist for The Guardian and Jane Beese, head of contemporary music at Southbank Centre.



Yoko Ono’s Meltdown is part of Southbank Centre’s summer festival sponsored by MasterCard.
The Observer is Media Partner of Meltdown 2013.

For press information please contact:
Oliver Krug – [email protected] / 020 7921 0676 / 07852 842912
Lara Delaney – [email protected] / 020 7921 0917

About Meltdown Festival (1993 – present)

Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival has been running since 1993 and each year invites a different cultural figure to act as director of the event and pick the performers of their choosing.

Previous directors include: Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Lee Scratch-Perry, Morrissey, Massive Attack, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave, Scott Walker, John Peel, Ornette Coleman, Richard Thomson, Laurie Anderson, Ray Davies and Antony.

Performers have included musicians, artists, filmmakers and comedians and have included Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Ivor Cutler, Radiohead, Grace Jones, Sir Michael Palin, Damon Albarn, Sir Les Paterson, Nancy Sinatra and The Master Musicians of Jajouka.

Meltdown has a reputation for staging one-off performances and collaborations by legendary artists. The New York Dolls reunited for Morrissey; Jeff Buckley played his final UK show at Elvis Costello’s Meltdown; Nick Cave, Grace Jones and Pete Doherty sang Disney songs with Jarvis Cocker; Patti Smith performed Horses in full for her Meltdown; Ray Davies re-staged the TV pop show Ready Steady Go!, and a rare live performance from Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser as part of Antony’s Meltdown.

About Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is an award-winning multi-media artist and peace activist, who constantly challenges and stretches the traditional boundaries of sculpture, painting, theater and music. Her seminal performance art in the early 1960s, experimental films and collaborative music with John Lennon in the 1970s and international one-woman shows and retrospectives during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s illustrate her varied career.

Some of Yoko Ono’s achievements include:

  • Grammy Award 1982 – “Double Fantasy” Album of the Year; Yoko Ono and John Lennon – Artists and Producers, NYC
  • MOJO Lifetime Achievement Award 2009 – MOJO music magazine, London
  • Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement in Art 2009, Venice Bienniale, Venice, Italy
  • ArtTable Award 2010 – Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts, NYC
  • 3rd Hiroshima Art Prize 2011, Hiroshima, Japan
  • Oskar Kokoschka Prize for Applied Arts 2012, Vienna, Austria

Yoko Ono is well known for her peace initiatives both by herself and, later, with events created with her husband John Lennon: Bed-In for Peace and War Is Over! (If You Want It).

She is now widely known for her more recent events with her IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland and participatory Wish Trees throughout the world.

Reflecting on her reputation for being outrageous, Yoko smiles and says, “I do have to rely on my own judgement. I have my own rhythm and my own timing, and that’s simply how it is.”

About Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.

For further information please visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk