Tusa is retiring in August after 12 years in the position. According to The Guardian, Kenyon's appointment comes as something of a shock to the London arts world, where it had been widely predicted that Graham Sheffield, the Barbican's artistic director, would assume the position.
The paper writes that Sheffield had publicly discussed his desire to take over from Tusa and quoted him yesterday as saying, "I've spoken to and congratulated Nick. We have always been decent friends, and I am not going to go off in a huff. I will see the next few months through and give the matter a lot of thought. I have wished him a lot of luck. I am not resigning, but how it goes forward will depend a lot on my conversations with Nick."
Kenyon will supervise the 2007 Proms season and begin his tenure at the Barbican in October. His appointment comes as the Barbican celebrates its 25th birthday next month with a lineup of special events.
The Barbican complex, which includes a concert hall, two theaters, two galleries, three cinemas and a public library, has just completed a major, seven-year refurbishment at a cost of Ô£35 million, fully funded by the City of London Corporation, which built the venue in the early 1980s. The Guardian quotes Tusa as saying that the Corporation reduced its subsidy by 9% (adjusted for inflation) over the past nine years. According to Bloomberg News, there will be a gap of Ô£1.8 million in the budget for the 2008-09 season unless the Centre can raise the difference.
Kenyon, born in 1951, started his music career working for the English Bach Festival and the BBC Music Department. He worked as a music critic for The New Yorker, The Times of London and The Observer. He then worked as an artistic advisor at the South Bank Centre and as controller of BBC Radio 3 before taking over the Proms in 1996.