The Provost of Oriel College, Neil Mendoza has been appointed as the UK’s first Culture Commissioner as part of efforts to aid the sector’s recovery following the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The announcement was made by the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden CBE. With the sector struggling due to the financial effects of closures as a result of the pandemic, Mendoza’s role will be to provide expert, independent advice to the UK government on the necessary steps needed for its recovery. This is with the added difficulty of social distancing measures needing to be in place across all cultural venues when they reopen.

As Culture Commissioner he will also be responsible for gathering innovative ideas and initiatives to help renew the sector and will ensure that The Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and other organisations in the culture sector work together to develop and deliver support.

Mendoza is experienced in this sector, as the Chair of the Landmark Trust and the Illuminated River Foundation, and as the non-Executive Director of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) since 2016. He also led ‘The Mendoza Review’, an independent review of museums in England, in 2017. 

Mendoza said in a statement: “Our culture holds us together. Arts, music, theatre, museums and heritage and culture in all its other forms are a vital part of people’s lives up and down the country. Our outstanding creativity and arts excellence sets an example for the world. The people that work in cultural sectors want to work, to help continue to support and inspire their communities.” 

“DCMS intends to help them do just that through this pandemic and be ready for renewal once social distancing is over.”

The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “Our local, regional and national institutions have been trailblazers in coming up with innovative ways to reach audiences during the lockdown. Our focus now turns to paving the way for the reopening of the country’s cultural hubs including theatres, galleries, museums and entertainment venues, when it is safe to do so.”

“Neil’s appointment as Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal and the creation of a new task-force is all part of the government’s commitment to help get the cultural and creative sectors back up and running.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England also added: “Neil Mendoza has been a champion of art and culture throughout his career and I am delighted that he will bring his extensive experience in the creative, heritage and business sectors to his appointment as Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal. Culture and creativity will be vital to rebuilding communities across the country and in sustaining our international standing as a creative nation. Helping the sector to reopen is a priority for the Arts Council and I very much look forward to working with Neil in support of the aims of the Taskforce.”