Arts Council of Great Britain

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The Arts Council of Great Britain was a non-departmental public body dedicated to the promotion of the fine arts in Great Britain. It was divided in 1994 to form the Arts Council of England (now Arts Council England), the Scottish Arts Council, and the Arts Council of Wales. At the same time the National Lottery was established and these three arts councils, plus the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, became distribution bodies.

In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to quangos. NDPBs are not an integral part of any government department and carry out their work at arm's length from ministers, although ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Arts Council England arts organization in London, England

Arts Council England is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It was formed in 1994 when the Arts Council of Great Britain was divided into three separate bodies for England, Scotland and Wales. The arts funding system in England underwent considerable reorganisation in 2002 when all of the regional arts boards were subsumed into Arts Council England and became regional offices of the national organisation.

Contents

History

Dancers from the Ballet Rambert, under the auspices of CEMA perform Peter and The Wolf at an aircraft factory in the Midlands during World War II The Ballet Rambert Visiting An Aircraft Factory in Britain TR969.jpg
Dancers from the Ballet Rambert, under the auspices of CEMA perform Peter and The Wolf at an aircraft factory in the Midlands during World War II

In 1940, during the Second World War, the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), was appointed to help promote and maintain British culture. Chaired by Lord De La Warr, President of the Board of Education, the Council was government-funded and after the war was renamed the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr British peer

Herbrand Edward Dundonald Brassey Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr,, styled Lord Buckhurst until 1915, was a British politician. He was the first hereditary peer to join the Labour Party and became a government minister at the age of 23.

A Royal Charter was granted on 9 August 1946, [1] followed by another in 1967. The latter provided for functions in Scotland and Wales to be conducted by two almost[ citation needed ] autonomous committees known as the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils the basis for today’s Scottish Arts Council and Arts Council of Wales.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

The Council's first Chairman was John Maynard Keynes who used his influence in Government to secure a high level of funding despite Britain's poor finances following the war. The majority of this funding was directed to organisations with which Keynes had close ties such as the Royal Opera House and was restricted to Central London. Keynes used his political influence to ensure that the Arts Council reported directly to the Treasury rather than an Arts Minister or the Education Department as had been the case with CEMA, establishing the principle of an 'arms length' relationship between UK Arts policy and the government of the day.

John Maynard Keynes English economist

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, was a British economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Widely considered the founder of modern macroeconomics, his ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Central London innermost part of London, England

Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.

After Keynes' death in April 1946 Government funding was reduced but the Arts Council received wide recognition for its contribution to the Festival of Britain thanks to the new Chairman Kenneth Clark. Artworks commissioned by the Council for the Festival were retained to form the basis of the Arts Council Collection.[ citation needed ] The Arts Council commissioned 12 sculptors and 60 painters, who made large paintings, 114 by 152 centimetres (45 by 60 in) or more, to be displayed at the festival. Ultimately the works were to be given to new hospitals, libraries, schools, and health centres that emerged after the war. There were five cash prizes awarded: Robert Adams's Apocalyptic Figure, Elinor Bellingham-Smith's The Island, Lucian Freud's Interior near Paddington, William Gear's Autumn Landscape, and Robert MacBryde's Figure and Still Life. [2]

Festival of Britain national exhibition in the United Kingdom, 1951

The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition and fair that reached millions of visitors throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. Historian Kenneth O. Morgan says the Festival was a "triumphant success" as people:

flocked to the South Bank site, to wander around the Dome of Discovery, gaze at the Skylon, and generally enjoy a festival of national celebration. Up and down the land, lesser festivals enlisted much civic and voluntary enthusiasm. A people curbed by years of total war and half-crushed by austerity and gloom, showed that it had not lost the capacity for enjoying itself....Above all, the Festival made a spectacular setting as a showpiece for the inventiveness and genius of British scientists and technologists.

Kenneth Clark Art historian, broadcaster and museum director

Kenneth Mackenzie Clark, Baron Clark was a British art historian, museum director, and broadcaster. After running two important art galleries in the 1930s and 1940s, he came to wider public notice on television, presenting a succession of programmes on the arts during the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the Civilisation series in 1969.

The Arts Council Collection is a national loan collection of modern and contemporary British Art. It was founded in 1946. The Collection continues to acquire works each year. The Arts Council Collection reaches its audience through loans to public institutions, touring exhibitions, digital and outreach projects. The Collection supports artists based in the UK through the purchase and display of their work, safeguarding it.

Under the Harold Wilson Government of 1964-70 the Arts Council enjoyed a Golden Age thanks to the close relationship between Chairman Arnold Goodman and the Arts Minister Jennie Lee. This period saw the Council establish a network of arts organisations across the country as regular client organisations and a programme of touring exhibitions and performances. To support the Council’s responsibilities in relation to the visual arts, it opened the Hayward Gallery on London's South Bank in 1968 as a home for its major exhibitions and the base for the Arts Council Collection. Since 1987, the gallery has been independently managed by the South Bank Centre. In 2003 sculpture in the Collection was moved to a base in Yorkshire.

Harold Wilson former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, was a British Labour politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

Golden Age far-gone period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity, from Greek mythology

The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the Works and Days of Hesiod, and is part of the which comes from the golden agen of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages, Gold being the first and the one during which the Golden Race of humanity lived. Those living in the first Age were ruled by Kronos, after the finish of the first age was the Silver, then the Bronze, after this the Heroic age, with the fifth and current age being Iron.

Jennie Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge British politician

Janet Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge, PC LLD HonFRA, known as Jennie Lee, was a Scottish politician. She was a Labour Member of Parliament from a by-election in 1929 until 1931 and then from 1945 to 1970.

During the 1970s and 1980s the Arts Council came under attack for being elitist and politically biased, in particular from the prominent Conservative Party minister Norman Tebbit.[ citation needed ] The Government grant to the Council was capped effecting a real terms reduction in funding though it was argued that any shortfall would be made up by increased sponsorship from the private sector. The Secretary-General from 1975–83, Roy Shaw, the last secretary-General to be knighted, faced the difficult task of reconciling the needs of arts organisations with the restricted funding. William Rees-Mogg was a political appointment as Chairman and proposed slimming down the Council's responsibilities. This led to a series of clashes with prominent figures from the Arts such as Peter Hall who resigned from the Council in protest. In 1987 the restructure inspired by Rees-Mogg cut by half the number of organisations receiving Arts Council funding. During the same period the Arts Council began encouraging a greater level of corporate sponsorship for the arts.

The Arts Council of Great Britain was divided in 1994 to form the Arts Council of England, Scottish Arts Council and Arts Council of Wales. At the same time the National Lottery was established and the Arts Council of England became one of the distribution bodies.

Chairmen of the Arts Council

ChairmanServed
The Lord Keynes 1946
Sir Ernest Pooley 19461953
Sir Kenneth Clark 19531960
The Lord Cottesloe 19601965
The Lord Goodman 19651972
Patrick Gibson 19721977
Sir Kenneth Robinson 19771982
Sir William Rees-Mogg 19821989
Peter Palumbo 19891993
The Earl of Gowrie 19931997

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References

  1. Who's Who in Music and Musicians' International Directory. Burke's Peerage Edition, London 1962
  2. Becky Conekin (28 June 2003). The Autobiography of a Nation: The 1951 Exhibition of Britain, Representing Britain in the Post-War World. Manchester University Press. p. 36. ISBN   978-0-7190-6060-1.

Further reading