Britain’s most powerful arts body is to be headed by a woman for the first time in its 62-year history.
Dame Liz Forgan will become chairwoman of Arts Council England in February when Sir Christopher Frayling steps down.
For Forgan, 64, the appointment crowns a career as one of the most successful and best-connected figures in the arts and media world.
As well as being a former head of BBC radio, in charge of the national networks, she was director of programmes at Channel 4 in the 1980s, and was chairwoman of the Heritage Lottery Fund until September.
One of Forgan’s first tasks will be to try to fend off possible cuts in the arts: the government has strongly hinted that public funding will be reduced because of the economic downturn.
The appointment of Forgan, who also chairs the Scott Trust, owner of The Guardian and The Observer, will be seen as a response to the call earlier this year by Margaret Hodge, then the arts minister, for more women to be appointed to senior posts in the arts.
No big arts or heritage body or museum has a majority of women on its board.