Yiannis Toumazis, a prominent figure in the arts community, was on Wednesday appointed Cyprus’ first deputy minister for culture and will take up his duties on July 1.

Toumazis told the Cyprus News Agency that he would do everything in his power to serve the new deputy ministry.

“I will do my best to serve culture, its institutions, and most of all its people – the creators and producers of culture, having been an active one myself for over 30 years.”

The newly appointed deputy minister added that there is a lot to be done for the island’s cultural product, which has “great potential”.

“We need to work collectively, and nobody will be left out in this ambitious endeavour,” he said. “I believe that through collaboration we can achieve a lot, and I hope we will succeed.”

The appointment by President Nicos Anastasiades was announced by government spokesman Marios Pelekanos after Wednesday’s meeting on the Council of Ministers and follows the recent approval of the necessary legislation setting up the deputy ministry by the House of Representatives.

“Mr Toumazis is a personality identified with the culture of our country and its development. He is distinguished for his professionalism, his ethos and especially his deep knowledge of the sphere he is being called on to manage,” Pelekanos said in a written statement.

The creation of the deputy ministry and today’s appointment of Toumazis implements an objective of many years for our country, culture, and people, he added.

It also completes a reform of the government make-up promised by the president in his programme, that includes the creation of five deputy ministries – of research and technology, tourism, shipping, social welfare and culture.

Born in Famagusta, Toumazis studied civil engineering at Athens National Polytechnic, stage design at the School of the Arts of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and aesthetics and theory of art at the University of Amiens in France where he obtained his doctorate.

He is a professor of history and theory of art at Frederick University, coordinator of the doctoral studies programme and has many publications.

Since 1994, he has been the director of the Nicosia Arts Centre and the Pierides Foundation.

Toumazis has served as president of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (Thoc) and vice-president of the bicommunal technical committee on culture.

In 2011, France bestowed on him the title of knight of the arts and letters for his services to culture. Nine years later, in 2020, he was unanimously elected to the Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts.