Mr Robinson, 49, who was tipped for the post, will join the Arts Council of England immediately and take over from Lord Gowrie when he steps down at the end of April. He will serve for three years.
Making the announcement, Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, said: "I am delighted that Gerry has agreed to lead the Arts Council. I look forward to working with him to ensure the long-term health and stability of the arts in this country. He will take over a council which Grey Gowrie has led with distinction for some years and I should like to thank him for all he has done during that time."
Mr Robinson, who is also chairman of BSkyB, campaigned for Labour during the last general election. He has an active interest in the performing arts and is a council member of the English Stage Company as well as chairing the development of the Royal Court theatre in Chelsea, south-west London.
Newspaper advertisements and headhunting were used to draw up the shortlist for the post, which was only filled after interviews by a panel including independent advisers, the Department of Culture said.
A former Conservative arts minister, Lord Gowrie has been outspoken in his belief that public spending cuts have brought the arts to crisis.Reuse content