Global arts and culture leader is new chair of Cultural Leadership Board

Skinder Hundal MBE, who currently works as the global director of arts at the British Council, has been announced as the new chair of the WMCA Cultural Leadership Board.

The programmes he has led at the British Council include the Golden Lion-winning British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2022 and has spoken for the sector at major events such asthe Davos World Economic Forum.

Skinder has a personal connection with the West Midlands, having been born and brought up here, and still lives in the region.

As chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority's Cultural Leadership Board, he will lead its work to drive forward the region’s vibrant cultural sector, which directly supports more than 24,000 jobs and has an economic footprint of £1.1 billion.

In addition, arts, culture and heritage deliver a number of other benefits linked to health and wellbeing, skills development, volunteering, pride of place, attractiveness of place for inward investment, and community cohesion.

The appointment of a global advocate of Skinder's calibre and reputation is a major coup as the WMCA looks to underpin its support for the region's arts, heritage and cultural sectors.

This is a key moment for the WMCA and the Cultural Leadership Board, given a total of £4.1 million has just been allocated from the underspend of the Birmingham 2020 Commonwealth Games to deliver a regional culture and heritage legacy programme.

In addition, a new formal partnership with the likes of Arts Council England, Historic England, Sport England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and Visit Britain was announced as part of the WMCA’s Deeper Devolution Deal.

This will see the development of a regional culture and heritage framework to support the region’s cultural sector, and to ensure more people have opportunities to take part in arts and heritage activities. Skinder said:

“I am delighted to accept the position of chair of the WMCA Cultural Leadership Board and look forward to working with the WMCA, the Mayor of the West Midlands and our key stakeholders across the region and beyond.

“The West Midlands has such a rich cultural and artistic heritage, and we now have an opportunity to build on the major cultural events which showcased our world-class cultural offer nationally and internationally.

“The recent devolution deal with the Government and the Commonwealth Games Legacy Fund all provide opportunities to harness key opportunities for the region and our cultural sector.

“We also know there are some key challenges which will need to be addressed, and we can only achieve this by working together. One of my first tasks will be to work with the WMCA and other key stakeholders to champion a new, ambitious and distinctive vision for culture and heritage in the West Midlands.

”I look forward to starting work on this, together with the other members of the WMCA Cultural Leadership Board.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “It’s great news that Skinder will lead our Cultural Leadership Board given his reputation and experience within our region’s rich and diverse cultural sector – as well as nationally and indeed internationally.

“Cultural Leadership Board members have made a significant contribution as the sector continues its post pandemic recovery and have helped to ensure the influence of arts, culture and heritage is felt across other areas falling within the WMCA remit such as skills, transport and housing.

“The success of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the legacy funding that is following on from that spectacular summer – combined with the stronger relationships with cultural funding bodies emerging from our new Deeper Devolution Deal – means we’re well placed to nurture the next generation of creative talent at the same time as making the West Midlands an even more attractive destination for residents, visitors and investors.”

The WMCA established the Cultural Leadership Board in 2020 to bring together professionals working in the different parts of the cultural sector to help the WMCA place culture and heritage at the heart of sustainable and inclusive growth in the region, and to enhance quality of life for local people.

West Midlands has one of the largest arts and cultural sectors outside London, as well as a rich intangible and tangible cultural heritage ranging from Shakespeare and Tolkien to heavy metal and Two-Tone. The region has a wide range of cultural organisations and heritage assets, many of them globally significant.

The role of the WMCA is to support the development of regional approaches to tackle challenges such as gaps in existing cultural infrastructure which limit people’s opportunities to take part in cultural activities, as well as to advocate for further investment.


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