Shocked and distressed at being sacked by a Culture Secretary she thought she had under control, Dame Liz Forgan sent the following sad and dignified letter to her colleagues on the Council and senior staff.
With great sadness I must write to you today to say that my chairmanship of the Arts Council will come to a close at the end of the year. The Secretary of State has decided, as he is of course fully entitled to do, that he wishes to make a new appointment to take the Council forward from 2013.
I shall look back on my time here with enormous pleasure and some pride. Together we have wrought radical change, coped with significant funding cuts, been charged with running a huge additional chunk of the culture world and given a central role in the cultural education in our schools. In that time I think it is fair to say that the reputation of the Arts Council among artists and in the wider public has taken a turn for the better – entirely as a result of the expertise and dedication with which everyone at the Arts Council has gone about their work.
The big pleasure for any Arts Council chair is of course to go out and see, hear, read or experience the work of the artists we support. In this respect I have had a ball. The arts in England are repaying handsomely the investment that successive governments have made and I don’t believe there is a country in Europe with a more vibrant and creative cultural sector or one where the spirit of innovation is more alive.
But close behind for me has come the pleasure of hearing people who work in the sectors we are responsible for, including the ones we have just acquired, say how much they have valued and appreciated the work of the Arts Council. Alan and the senior management team have set a tone of openness, expertise and true commitment that has been echoed up and down the organisation and you, both staff and Council, are a credit to public service.
I shall miss you all and I am particularly sorry to be going just as the Arts Council faces another reorganisation but under Alan’s outstanding leadership I know you will tackle it as well as you did the last one with a determination to protect at all costs the excellence and the range of work we support.
I will of course continue to be fully active as Chair until the end of the year, and I will continue to vigorously represent the interests of the Arts Council and the arts.
Thank you for making the last three years such a delight. I wish you all possible good luck for the years ahead.
Dame Liz Forgan
Arts Council England