Arts Council England
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75 years of public investment in arts, culture and creativity: Share your #CreativeMemories

As we mark 75 years since our first Royal Charter, we’re sharing our top #CreativeMemories from the last seven and a half decades – and you can share yours too. 

Today (Monday 9 August) is the 75th anniversary of the Arts Council receiving its first Royal Charter in 1946. We were born out of the optimism of the post-war era to promote “courage, confidence, and opportunity” in great culture and creativity so everyone could enjoy the benefits they bring whether they are performers, artists, visitors or audience members. 

Get involved

To mark our anniversary we will be sharing iconic moments from the last 75 years that highlight the role public investment has contributed to creating a vibrant and thriving cultural and creative sector in our country. We are also asking you to share your memories of visiting and participating in creativity and cultural activities that have benefited from that investment. 

Share your #CreativeMemories >

An image of a crowd of people at an outdoor arts event. 4 performers are throwing coloured powder paint over the crowd. the text reads: "Creative memories. Celebrating 75 years of public investment in art, culture and creativity..."

Our history

During the darkest days of the Second World War the government set up our forerunner The Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) “to bring pleasure and the highest forms of inspiration” to the millions who were living through the blackout and nightly threat of bombing raids. Just a little over a month VE Day in 1945, one of the last acts of the wartime coalition government was to make CEMA a permanent, arms-length body and give it a new name in the process: The Arts Council of Great Britain. A year later the Arts Council was given a Royal Charter.

The light sculpture Skylon towers over buildings on London's Southbank.

View of the Skylon at the Festival of Britain, 1951. Photo © Historic England

Our 75th anniversary comes when the nation is emerging from another time of crisis which has the seen the government invest almost £2 billion in ensuring the survival of the sector, allowing it to be well placed to assist in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. During the last eighteen months people have found new ways to engage with cultural activities, and have explored their own creativity as a way of maintaining their wellbeing during lockdowns, shielding and self-isolation.  

For the last eight decades we have worked closely with government and our partners to promote the benefits that a flourishing creative and cultural sector can provide everyone wherever they live. Throughout those years the Arts Council has evolved and developed while always making sure that culture and creativity remain a crucial part of the lifeblood of our nation. As a previous chair put it: “if we did not have it (the Arts Council) we would have to invent some comparable body to take its place.” 

Sir Nicholas Serota, our Chair, has written about the importance of the principle of public investment and what it has meant and continues to mean to the sector, which you can read here. Please note that this article is behind a paywall.


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