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Arts Council England was formed in 1994 when the Arts Council of Great Britain was divided into three separate bodies for England, Scotland and Wales. It is an non-departmental public body of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The arts funding system in England underwent considerable reorganisation in 2003 when all of the Regional Arts Boards were subsumed into Arts Council England. The boundaries of the regional offices are now co-terminous with the standard English Regions.

It is a government-funded body dedicated to promoting the performing, visual and literary arts in England. Since 1994, Arts Council England has been responsible for distributing lottery funding. This investment has helped to transform the building stock of arts organisations and to create lots of additional high quality arts activity.



The Arts Council of England was created in 1945 as the Arts Council of Great Britain, which was then divided to form the Arts Council of England, the Scottish Arts Council and the Arts Council of Wales in 1994. At the same time the National Lottery was established and the Arts Council of England became one of the distribution bodies. This increased responsibility saw the Arts Council of England grow back in size to the point where it was larger than before the 1987 restructure.

In 2001 Chairman Gerry Robinson announced a further restructuring in which the Arts Council of England would be merged with the existing Regional Arts Boards to form a single organisation: Arts Council England.

Governance and administration

Arts Council England has a national council of 17 members including the Chairman. The national council meets 5–6 times a year and is made up of representatives of the arts community with 9 of the members also representing the regional councils and one seat reserved for a representative of the Black and Asian community. There are nine regional councils based on the government office regions of England. Each has a board of 15 members (except for the South East, which has 20) made up of representatives of their regional arts community and local government. The regional councils are:

The appointment of the Arts Council England Chief Executive is made by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, a position held by Alan Davey since 2008. Each regional council had an Executive Director and each artform has a specialist advisor. The Arts Council England divides its funding into the following headings:

  • Combined Art (Festivals)
  • Dance
  • Education
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Research
  • Theatre
  • Touring
  • Visual Arts

Chairs of Arts Council England

Executive Officers


In September 2008 the DCMS announced that Arts Council England would be managing its scheme to provide free tickets to the theatre for under 26 year olds. The scheme, [A Night Less Ordinary], was launched in February and the results for the first quarter were recently announced at a celebrity reading event attended by over 200 under 26 year olds at the Royal Court in London. Between February 16 and April 30 2009 the theatres involved in the scheme have given away almost 50,000 free tickets. This amounts to more than 4,000 free visits to a theatre in England every week in the first 12 weeks of the scheme.

Action on recession

The current and future effects of the economic downturn on the arts understandably continue to be a main concern of the arts sector and the Arts Council has said that it will do its best to protect the interests of audiences who deserve the best art there is.

Early in 2009 they announced the Sustain fund which is a way that artistic excellence can be maintained in the context of the economic downturn, protecting the investment made in the arts over the last ten years and ensuring sustainability in the future.

This is just one strand of the Arts Council's work in this area with more information available on their website

Organisation review

In 2009 The Arts Council was asked by Government to reduce its grant-in-aid administration costs by 15% by 2010-11. The Arts Council also decided that 15% savings should be made on our National Lottery costs, so that a total of £6.5 million could be found to go back into the arts.

The key elements of the proposal are as follows:

1) a smaller head office - focused on strategy and support to frontline staff
2) nine smaller regional offices - focused on frontline delivery, working with the organisations it funds, artists and other key partners
3) regional offices grouped under four area executive directors
4) a central Grants for the arts processing team - relieving regional offices of administrative processes and making grant-giving more equitable
5) a streamlined advocacy and communications team
6) a smaller executive board (nine members) with a balance of regional knowledge and a strategic overview


See also

External links



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