Government announces new Culture Commissioner and recovery taskforce

The taskforce will focus on supporting the culture sector's recovery in the wake of coronavirus

The government have appointed Neil Mendoza as Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal, with a taskforce also set up to advise on how UK culture can begin to recover in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The role is intended to provide an expert and independent voice to the government on cultural matters – including how to best support live music venues, theatres and cinemas affected by lockdown.

Mendoza will be working closely with Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and other key bodies to develop “an ambitious philanthropic focus on arts and culture” according to a government press release.

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“Our culture holds us together,” Mendoza said with regards to the role. “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 [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] intends to help them do just that through this pandemic and be ready for renewal once social distancing is over.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also spoke about the taskforce’s role in supporting the arts through coronavirus, stating the move is “all part of the government’s commitment to help get the cultural and creative sectors back up and running.”

Working with organisations such as Society of London Theatres (SOLT), UK Theatre and Arts Council England (ACE), the group will focus on a number of key issues, including how and when to safely reopen music venues to the public.

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Yesterday (May 19) it was reported that around 140 UK music venues at risk of permanent closure have been temporarily saved thanks to a campaign – but many remain at risk.

Last month saw the Music Venue Trust launch the Save Our Venues campaign, with a crowdfunding bid to prevent 556 independent UK venues from closure and stop “damage that would undermine the UK music industry for 20-30 years”.

“The fact we have managed to remove 140 grassroots music venues off of our critical list in the last three weeks is, of course, a cause for celebration. But we are not complacent as this is only a relatively short-term fix,” said Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd.

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