Culture shock: billionaires step down from leading roles in the arts –

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As two of the founders of Carphone Warehouse, David Ross and Sir Charles Dunstone have a great deal in common.

They both went to the same public school, forged stellar careers becoming billionaires, donated to the Conservative Party and are generous patrons of the arts.

But, this weekend it emerged both men are leaving roles at the helm of two world-renowned British institutions – the Royal Opera House and Royal Museums Greenwich – amid claims the Government is waging a “culture war”.

However, the reasons for their departures appear very different.

Sir Charles, 56, quit as chairman of the Royal Museums Greenwich after he clashed with Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, over granting a second term to a trustee and academic whose work had supported “decolonising” the curriculum.

It emerged he stepped down in February after Mr Dowden refused to backtrack on his decision not to reappoint to the museum’s board Aminul Hoque, a lecturer in educational studies at Goldsmiths, University of London whose work advocates “decolonising” the curriculum.

The academic and writer told the Financial Times he remained “shocked, disappointed and baffled” by Mr Dowden’s decision. Sir Charles declined to comment.


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