Stellar advisory council announced for Humanities Cultural Programme

HCP advisory council

Ten internationally leading figures in the arts and humanities have been appointed to the inaugural Advisory Council for Oxford University’s Humanities Cultural Programme (HCP).

The HCP is an active programme of public events and projects powered by research in the Humanities at Oxford. Working in collaboration with both local cultural partners and the world's leading performers, artists, film-makers and musicians, the HCP seeks to increase the social impact and understanding of humanities research and reaffirm its value to our common future. Engaging new audiences and participants of all ages, the HCP is a founding stone of the new Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, due to open in the academic year 2024/25.

The Advisory Council will advise, guide and inform the HCP in its aim to become a globally leading university centre for art, culture and community engagement. The new building will enable Oxford Humanities to host a full range of arts from exhibitions, music and theatre performances, as well as film and digital spaces. The HCP will curate a rich and diverse programme of world class arts, cultural and community engagement.

The members will initially meet twice a year, with the first meeting to be held via video conference in November. They are:

  • Professor Homi K. Bhabha, who is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University.
  • Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic orchestra.
  • Professor Judith Buchanan, Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford and an expert on early modern literature and the study of film.
  • Sir Clive Gillinson CBE, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall.
  • Michael Kaiser, an arts administrator who was president of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and led the Royal Opera House.
  • Neil Mendoza, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford and the UK government’s Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal.
  • Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, a writer, art historian and filmmaker who wrote The God Child (2019).
  • Sir Simon Russell-Beale CBE, an actor, author and music historian.
  • Anoushka Shankar, a sitarist with six Grammy® Award nominations.
  • Amy Stursberg, Executive Director at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Foundation and CEO for Schwarzman Scholars Programme, who led the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation cultural and community grants programme.

Professor Karen O'Brien, Head of Humanities at Oxford University, said: “We are honoured that such a talented group has agreed to form the first Advisory Council for the Humanities Cultural Programme. They have unparalleled experience in music, theatre, literature and arts administration, which will be vital in shaping and developing the Programme’s future. They will ensure that the HCP’s events are of the highest standard and attract the widest possible audience. Although we are still several years away from having our new building with its three performance venues, the Humanities Cultural Programme is already underway. Tens of thousands of viewers from more than 20 countries have tuned into our live online events during the pandemic, which demonstrates the important role of the arts in a time of crisis.”

Professor Homi K. Bhabha said: “I am eagerly looking forward to working with my colleagues to build an innovative forum for the Arts and Humanities at Oxford. The Humanities represent the crossroads of the campus and enable the traffic of people and ideas across disciplines and departments to convene an on-going conversation between academic creativity and the public interest. The Humanities build communities, rather than models, and the cultural programme of the Humanities Centre will provide the spark for an energetic and engaged community of ideas and action at Oxford.”

Dr Nana Oforiatta-Ayim said: “Oxford has produced so many world leaders and thinkers and I am excited about joining its Humanities Cultural Programme Advisory Council and hopefully increasing the diversity and plurality of cultural output and voices.”

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the arts and the HCP aims to continue to partner with and support local, national and international cultural organisations in the coming months. The HCP will host debates and discussions about the future of the arts, and these events will benefit from the expertise of Neil Mendoza, who is the UK government’s Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal.

The HCP also supports Visiting Fellows and Writers. Theatre director Katie Mitchell, OBE, is working as the first HCP Visiting Fellow this year, and the Programme’s first two Writers in Residence are Sophie Jai and Justin Torres. 

For more information on the HCP and its recent and upcoming activities and output, visit: