New arts council head and culture secretary appointed in reshuffle

Sir Peter Bazalgette has been named as the new chairmen of Arts Council England, succeeding Dame Liz Forgan. The press had been speculating about Bazalgette’s possible appointment following the government’s decision to not re-appoint Forgan earlier this year.

Bazalgette is widely known for the creation of globally successful television format Big Brother. He serves as chair at ENO, acts as president for the Royal Television Society and is a non-executive director of the department of culture, media and sport.

He said of his new role, due to begin in the new year: ‘2013 will be an excellent time to join the arts council. Sustaining our vigorous arts and cultural sector is admittedly a challenge, but one I greatly look forward to.’

Arts Council chief executive, Alan Davey was clearly pleased with the decision, describing it as ‘an excellent appointment’. He went on to describe Bazalgette as, ‘a great philanthropic contributor to the arts; an enthusiast who has done amazing work with English National Opera and has helped the arts council over the years to develop our digital thinking. We look forward to working with him.’

Bazalgette’s appointment was one of the last decisions to be made by Jeremy Hunt, with the prime minister’s approval, in his role as culture secretary. David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle involved the appointment of Maria Miller to succeed Jeremy Hunt as secretary of state for culture, media and sport. The MP for Basingstoke and former advertising executive will also undertake a role as minister for women and equalities. The Guardian described Miller as ‘a relative unknown for culture professionals’. Her new position will be Miller’s first cabinet role.

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