Arts Council England

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The Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) was created in 1940. “The initial decision to fund such a measure came from the Pilgrim Trust. … That grant was matched by the Treasury via the Ministry of Education budget." The Trust money only lasted for two years, and then the government stepped in to fully fund the Council. “In 1946, CEMA was transformed into a new organisation, the Arts Council of Great Britain, with Keynes as it first Chairman." [1]

"Between 2008 and 2011 we'll invest in excess of £1.6 billion of public money from the government and the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country." [2]

According to Corporate Watch UK: "The Arts Council was originally set up on an ‘arm’s length principle’ popularised by Lord Redcliffe-Maud. But key politicians and government officials have always had varying degrees of influence on the Council’s decisions through direct and indirect channels, from the Chancellor, Arts Minister, Parliamentary Committees, to the Council’s appointed chairs and panel members. As Raymond Williams put it in a 1979 article in the Political Quarterly on the Arts Council, 'all that is gained by an arm’s length is a certain notion of removal of directly traceable control.' And let’s remember, the Council’s first chairman was none but the founder of Keynesian economics, John Maynard Keynes himself. The current advisory panels system, which is often bypassed in major decisions, is also part of his legacy." [3]


Accessed December 2010: [4]



Critical Articles

Related Books

  • Eric Walter White, The Arts Council of Great Britain (Davis-Poynter, 1975).
  • Robert Stewart, The arts : politics, power and the purse : the report of an international conference on the structure of arts funding held by the Arts Council of Great Britain at London, 4-5 March 1987.
  • Andrew Sinclair, Arts and cultures : the history of the 50 years of the Arts Council of Great Britain (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995).

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Larraine Nicholas, Dancing in Utopia: Dartington Hall and its Dancers (Dance Books, 2007), p.132.
  2. About, Arts Council England, accessed December 10, 2010.
  3. "REFINING DISSENT: THE ARTS COUNCIL AND RADICAL ARTS," Corporate Watch (UK), Newsletter 43, June 2009.
  4. Council, Arts Council England, accessed December 10, 2010.