Whyte joins on 1 March in one of the most challenging years in the council's history. It is seeking to raise its profile ahead of the Government's comprehensive spending review, the results of which will be announced in 2007.
The last time the government reviewed spending across all departments was in 1997. In the council's last review three years ago, its budget was frozen at £412m.
The Arts Council will also be heavily involved in discussions around the National Lottery renewal process. The allocation of funds for good causes, including the Arts Council, is to be reviewed in 2009. Opportunities for cultural events around the 2012 London Olympics will also be examined.
Whyte will head a team of 60, taking responsibility for strategic communications and campaigns across media relations, public affairs and internal comms, as well as overseeing nine regional comms teams, each housing three staff. He will report to Arts Council England chief executive Peter Hewitt.
Whyte replaces interim executive director of external relations Carol Bewick, a freelance specialist in interim comms management, who held the post for four months.
Whyte took redundancy from the BBC last September and has been freelancing since. The BBC is not recruiting for a direct replacement, although it is searching for a head of PR - reporting to head of communications Sally Osman - who will take on some of Whyte's former duties.
BBC head of editorial and marketing services Helen Mackintosh is covering Whyte's former responsibilities, which included opinion former work and events.
His previous roles include head of corporate and public relations for BBC Broadcast, external affairs adviser for Shell International and five years as director of corporate affairs at News International.
The Arts Council England has used a number of mostly specialist arts agencies on a project basis, including Colman Getty and Brunswick Arts. It has also used Fishburn Hedges for public affairs.