Museum sector laments Forgan’s exit

Minister will not renew arts council chair's tenure
Patrick Steel
Plaudits for Liz Forgan have been rolling in from the museum sector following culture minister Jeremy Hunt’s announcement last week that he would not reappoint her as chair of Arts Council England (ACE) when her tenure ends in January next year.

Nicholas Serota, the director of Tate, said: “I am deeply disappointed that Liz Forgan is not being renewed as chair of the arts council.

“She has led the council with real verve and conviction through a period in which cuts to arts spending could have resulted in the loss of major parts of our cultural landscape.

“That the arts are weathering these reductions is due to the resilience of companies and artists but also to the leadership and good judgement that she has shown as chair of the arts council.”

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, said: "Liz Forgan led the arts council through an exceptionally difficult period with intelligence and integrity.

"Cuts were handled through a system so transparently fair that even the losers knew they had been treated well - an outstanding achievement.

"Her departure will sadden and disappoint everyone who deals with ACE or who cares about the quality of public administration."

Maurice Davies, the head of policy at the Museums Association, said: “Liz Forgan has been a superb chair at the arts council and a great supporter of museums, not least because of her years of service as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. She’ll be a hard act to follow.”

Forgan was appointed under the last government. Under the coalition government she has presided over a 29.6% cut to ACE’s 2011-2015 budget and was reportedly fighting a government request to find a further 50% of cuts in administration.

In a letter to Forgan last Wednesday, Hunt wrote: “Set against your excellent track record… I had to weigh the future development of the sector, and the need to find someone who could steer it successfully through what will be another challenging period, and one which will throw up some particular challenges, not least around the digital and philanthropy areas.”

Recruitment for the next chair will begin after Easter.


This article was updated at 15:55 on 28.03.2012

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