Arts Council England celebrates its 75th anniversary

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Photo of students from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at Downing Street as part of their programme to expand diversity in theatre. They also performed As You Like It in the garden.

Arts Council England is today celebrating its 75th anniversary.

The body was created by Sir Winston Churchill’s wartime coalition government one month after VE Day before being formally granted its Royal Charter the following year in 1946.

Its creation “showed a commitment by that government to continue public investment in the nation’s creativity and culture, which has continued through successive administrations”, the organisation said in a statement.

The body is responsible for distributing funds to arts organisations in an effort to promote culture.

Arts Council England chair Sir Nicholas Serota said:

“The creation of the Arts Council and the model of funding which sees public investment in creativity and culture as essential to a mix which also includes philanthropy and private enterprise was a brilliant conception by a government in the middle of a war.

“Over the last 75 years, we have created a world-class creative and cultural sector.

“The anniversary is a moment to celebrate the impact of public funding of the arts on people’s lives, careers, and communities over this period.

“The principle of using public funds to stimulate creativity, culture and the arts was a bold innovation and has formed a blueprint for the creation of other arts councils across the world.”

Arts Council England has evolved from funding 46 organisations in 1946 to “several thousand” today, the organisation said.

Economist John Maynard Keynes served as its first chair and described its mission as “to give courage, confidence and opportunity” with “enjoyment being its first aim”.

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