Arts Council England

Has funding from the Arts Council England had a positive effect on Arts Organizations, in England, in the past 15 years?

Background of the Arts Council England (ACE)

How ACE was founded

The creation of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) in 1940, which is recognized as the prototype for the Arts Council of Great Britain (the CEMAs' post war successor), was a reaction to the low morale of the Country following the Second World War. Originally funded by a wealthy “Anglophile American railway financier Edward J. Harkness” (pg 27 ACE 50yr history) the CEMA was managed by knowledgeable individuals who had previous experience in funding early arts programs in South Wales and County Durham. The CEMAs' main goal was to “[…] sustain and preserve the heritage and social culture of Great Britain” (pg27 ACE 50yr history). In 1940 the CEMA produced there first four objectives, which is outlined below by Andrew Sinclair in Arts and Cultures The history of the 50 years of the Arts Council of Great Britain (p.g30)

A) The preservation in wartime of the highest standards in the arts of music, drama and painting;

B) The widespread provision of opportunities for hearing good music and the enjoyment of the arts generally for people, who, on account of wartime conditions, have been cut off from these things;

C) The encouragement of music-making and play-acting by the people themselves;

D) Through the above activities, this rendering of indirect assistance to professional singers and players who may be suffering from a wartime lack of demand for their work.

To link to the Present day Arts Council England, these original objectives are not so different from the aims and objectives put forward by ACE in the 2009 Annual review (pg 115)

“The plan is underpinned by five outcomes: excellence, innovation, diversity, reach and engagement:

· excellence - high quality arts and arts experience

· reach - more people attending and taking part in the arts

· engagement - more people feel that there are opportunities to be stimulated or inspired by, and get actively involved in, arts activities that are personally relevant to them

· diversity - arts that reflect the diversity of contemporary England

· innovation - artists have the freedom, and are challenged to, innovate”

Excellence, innovation, reach, and engagement are the common themes, which have impressively survived the 60 years the organization has been around. It was only after Antony Everitts' (1900-1994) time as Chief Executive of the Arts Council England (then General Security) did the concept of “diversity” becomes an important factor. Everitts' personal interest in community arts shaped the ACE and promoting “diversity” in the arts is presently the organizations main concern. His interests in Community Arts are clearly outlined in his book Joining In (Footnote/reference).

At the end of the War the Chairman, at the time, John Maynard Keynes adopted and nurtured the theory of arts for social good and developmental purposes. As an economist and a lover of arts Keynes put forward a precursory aim of the Arts Council by taking over the lease of The Georgian Theatre Royal, Bristol inadvertently creating the first subsidized theatre in Britain.

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