Provost Neil Mendoza Appointed UK’s first Culture Commissioner to Support the Sector’s Pandemic Recovery

  • Oriel Provost Neil Mendoza standing in his study
21 May, 2020

On Wednesday 20th May, the Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden CBE, announced that Oriel’s Provost Neil Mendoza will provide an expert and independent voice to the government, advising on how UK culture and heritage can begin the road to recovery from the pandemic.

Cultural venues have been closed due to the pandemic, staff have been furloughed, and many organisations have taken significant financial damage as a result. The cultural and heritage sector faces some enormous challenges in the months and years ahead in order to recover from the impact of COVID-19, and to adjust to the new world of social distancing.

Neil will draw on his many years of experience within the cultural sector to gather together the most innovative and promising ideas for the sector’s renewal and will then present them to Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Ministers and officials. He will lead an ambitious philanthropic focus on arts and culture, and help ensure Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and other important bodies work together with DCMS to develop and deliver support to the sector.

Before joining Oriel in 2018, Neil worked extensively in the arts and heritage sectors. He is Chair of The Landmark Trust, The Illuminated River Foundation and is a Non Executive Director at the DCMS. He will undertake this important work for the DCMS in his spare time, while continuing to give priority to his role as Oriel’s Head of House, guiding the College through its own pandemic response.

Commenting on Neil’s appointment to this new role, 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 taskforce is all part of the government’s commitment to help get the cultural and creative sectors back up and running.”

Speaking about the importance of this work to our cultural lives, Neil said: “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.”

Welcoming the appointment, Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, 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.”

You can read the full announcement here.