The chair of Arts Council England Sir Peter Bazalgette has announced that he will step down in January 2017, after completing only one term in the job. The 62-year-old, who was best known for his Endemol production company, the creators of Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal said, “there are a number of new opportunities I would like to take up before I pop my clogs” He added, “I will be 63 next January, I spend a lot of time on the Arts Council and that’s fine, I love it. But the question is: do I want to do it for eight years? I am very active in the creative industries and intend to continue to be active but I want to do a few other things.” John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, was informed of the decision last summer.
Bazalgette whose annual salary as Director of ACE is a mere £40,000, works up to two days per week. This job is considered part-time although it takes up may unrecorded extra hours. The government-backed council promotes and funds the arts across England and as part of its remit is involved in investing National Lottery money. Similar bodies take on the role in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When taking up the post, Baz as he is known to friends said: “Sustaining our vigorous arts and cultural sector is admittedly a challenge but one I greatly look forward to.”
Sir Peter is regarded as a leader who successfully balanced the books during a period of harsh funding cuts. At the outset of taking over the job from Dame Liz Forgan he gave a speech about creative opportunities and challenges ahead of these imminent cuts by the government, instigated by Chancellor George Osborne. Bazalgette also outlined a “fundamental shift” in the Arts Council’s approach to diversity. It placed responsibility on every organisation it funds to make their programme of work more reflective of the diverse communities they serve, stating that the starting point must be the art itself: “Britain’s got many, many talents. And our work should reflect and engage with all our talent and communities. That’s how we will ensure work of true ambition and enduring quality.” His stewardship of ACE is widly viewed as a success.