Neil Mendoza. Courtesy of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.

UK Appoints Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal

The United Kingdom has hired Neil Mendoza, the provost of Oriel College at Oxford University, as its new commissioner for cultural recovery and renewal. He will be responsible for advising the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) on the steps that need to be taken to ensure the UK’s arts sector can recover from the pandemic.

“Our local, regional, and national institutions have been trailblazers in coming up with innovative ways to reach audiences during the lockdown,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement. “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.”

Mendoza currently serves as chair of the Landmark Trust and the Illuminated River Foundation as well as a non-executive director at DCMS. In 2017, he also spearheaded a review of museums across England in 2017. In this new role, Mendoza will consult with Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Historic England, where he previously served as commissioner, to generate ideas on how to bolster the UK’s creative industries and present them to DCMS and other officials. He will also be the head of a new cultural taskforce—one of five new ministerial-led teams that have been set up to develop plans for how and when closed sectors can reopen safely—which will oversee the Entertainment and Events Working Group (EWG).

EWG will collaborate with organizations such as the Society of London Theatre and meet with medical advisors to discuss which safety measures should be implemented in order to allow rehearsals, performances, theaters, and concerts to begin operating again. The group will also consider the potential implications of a return to work for both disabled artists and audiences. The group will be made up of representatives from Royal Albert Hall, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, One Dance UK, the Association of British Orchestras, and the Royal Opera House, among other institutions.

On the appointment, Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said: “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.”