As the UK was beginning to bounce back from the Second World War, John Maynard Keynes gave a speech about the policy of the recently established Arts Council, of which he was president. We published some extracts from his speech (July 12, 1945):
“At last,” Keynes said, “the public exchequer has recognised the support and encouragement of the civilising arts of life as a part of their duty. But we don’t intend to socialise this side of social endeavour. Whatever views may be held by the lately warring parties about socialising industry, everyone recognises that the work of the artist is, of its nature, individual and free.
“Our biggest problem will be the shortage in most parts of Britain of adequate and suitable buildings. There never were many theatres in this country. The greater number, even of large towns, let alone the smaller centres, are absolutely bare of the necessary bricks and mortar."
“I hope that a reasonable allotment of resources will be set aside each year for the repair and erection of the buildings we shall need. I hear that in Russia theatres and concert halls are given a very high priority for building. We of the Arts Council are greatly concerned to decentralise and disperse the dramatic and musical and artistic life of the country.
“We already have our regional offices in Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Cardiff and Edinburgh. But it’s also our business to make London a great artistic metropolis. The London County Council has already allotted a site for a National Theatre. The Arts Council has joined with the trustees of the Crystal Palace to make that once again a great ‘people’s palace’.”
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