William Sieghart

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William Sieghart
Born 1960
Nationality British
Education Eton
St Anne's College, Oxford
Occupation Entrepreneur, Publisher

William Matthew Timothy Stephen Sieghart CBE (born 1960) is a British entrepreneur, publisher and the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry. He is the current chairman of the Somerset House Trust.

Education and career[edit]

Born in 1960, son of barrister Paul Sieghart, a human rights lawyer, campaigner, broadcaster and author, and Felicity Ann Sieghart, chairman of the National Association for Gifted Children, magistrate and later managing director of the Aldeburgh Cinema, William is the older brother of Mary Ann Sieghart.[1] He was educated at Eton and St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1986, he founded Forward Publishing with a business partner Neil Mendoza, an independent contract publisher, publishing magazines, children’s books and poetry books. He is the author of a book on golf, The Swing Factory. Sieghart presented a weekly TV programme for Bloomberg for three years. His interests include foreign travel and cricket. In addition to his work in poetry and the Middle East, Sieghart also founded Big Arts Week and Street Smart, the initiative whereby diners give a percentage of their restaurant bill to the homeless. He was a member of Arts Council England 2000–06, and was chairman of its Lottery Panel. In September 2015, Sieghart was appointed Chairman of Somerset House Trust.

Work[edit]

In 1992, Sieghart established The Forward Prizes for Poetry to help raise the profile of contemporary poetry by new and established poets.

In 1994, he founded National Poetry Day, a day of celebration of verse on the first Thursday of October which has become an established fixture in the cultural calendar. Events take place in schools, pubs, arts centres, bookshops, libraries, buses, trains and Women’s Institutes, and the day is the focus for media attention for poetry.[citation needed]

The Forward Arts Foundation (a registered charity) was set up in 1995 to administer the Forward Prizes and National Poetry Day.

His initiative Winning Words was a public art project during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. It aimed to enable everyone to experience poetry in exciting ways and to create a legacy of inspiring words for the nation to enjoy. Winning Words comprised both permanent and temporary poems throughout the Park, made up of site-specific poems commissioned from local poets, as well as poems suggested by the public and chosen by a panel.[citation needed]

Sieghart chaired and authored ‘An Independent Review of E-Lending in Public Libraries in England’ published by Department Culture, Media and Sport, 2013 and was subsequently jointly commissioned by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, DCMS and Brandon Lewis, Minister for Communities & Local Government, DCLG to consider and report on Public Library services in England. The ‘Independent Library report for England’ was published by DCMS in Dec 2014.

In 2014, Sieghart co-founded Vrumi with Roddy Campbell. Vrumi is a London-based digital start-up described by The Times (UK) as ‘the office version of Airbnb’.[2] Vrumi connects workers seeking space to householders with daytime rooms to let.

In September 2015, Sieghart was appointed Chairman of Somerset House Trust.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to public libraries.[3]

Interests[edit]

Sieghart also takes an interest in the Middle East. He is Founder and Chairman of Forward Thinking, founded post 9/11 to help promote durable peace agreements and to engage the most extreme parties in face-to-face dialogue. Forward Thinking works both in the UK and the Middle East.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. William Sieghart Reprieve
  2. Arabic Fiction; trustee

Further reading[edit]