Arts Councils



  • The main funding bodies for the arts in England, Wales, and NorthernIreland. In 2007 the Arts Council for Scotland was replaced by a new agency,Creative Scotland. In the field of drama the Councils have fostered the growth of repertory, encouraged new playwrights, subsidized ticket prices, and assisted commercial theaters with 'partly educational' productions. Grants and awards are made to hundreds of companies throughout Britain, the chief recipients being the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since 1995 the Arts Councils have been responsible for allocating about 20% of those funds from the National Lottery designated for 'good works'.

    The Arts Councils evolved from the Council for the Encouragementof Music and the Arts (CEMA), which was set up in 1940 (with grantsfrom the Pilgrim Trust and the Treasury) to bring drama, opera, ballet,concerts, and other entertainment to areas whose populations had increasedbecause of wartime evacuation. In 1946 CEMA was replaced by the Arts Council of Great Britain, created by Royal Charter to "develop a greater knowledge, understanding, and practice of the Fine Arts" as well as to make them more accessible to the public and to improve artistic standards. The Council was now funded on a permanent basis, mostly by an annual grant-in-aid from the Treasury. The Arts Councils of Scotland and Wales became independent in 1994 (that for Northern Ireland having always beenautonomous).