Our organisation

Hand drawn iIllustration by Supermundane with lots of intricate lines and patterns

We were set up in 1946, by Royal Charter, to champion and develop art and culture across the country. We’re governed by an executive board and national and area councils.

We invest public money including National Lottery money to help bring great art and culture to everyone. Because it’s your money, it’s very important that we can give an honest account of every penny spent. But none of the funding, or advice, or development, or policy we’ve helped shape, would be possible without a large number of very dedicated people. So it’s equally important we recognise their contribution to making great art and culture for everyone a reality.

Over the next three years we'll invest £1.1 billion of public money from Government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create great art and culture for everyone, everywhere. We receive our Government funding from the Department for Culture Media and Sport and our requirements are laid out in a funding agreement with them.  

A female performer in top hat and tails holds her hands in the air on a small stage, while other performers move around behind her through piles of torn paper.
Cynthia Erivo in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Liverpool Everyman. Photo © Gary Calton  for Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse

For the arts, museums and libraries

We work to make the arts, and the wider culture of museums and libraries an integral part of everyday public life, accessible to all, understood as essential to the national economy and the health and happiness of society. Find out more about how we support art and culture.

For cultural education

We also work with the Department for Education to manage a portfolio of programmes, improving standards, reach and sustainability of music and cultural education in line with the National Plan for Music Education and Cultural Education Plan recommendations. Find out more about Cultural Education.

For cultural property

We also have statutory responsibilities to bring objects and collections of special interest into public ownership and protect them. Find our more about how we support collections.

How we are run

You can read more about our Governance and how we make decisions through our Executive Board, our National Council and Area Councils, our non-executive committees and other decision-making bodies below.

Three performers partially obscured behind a curtain, with butterfly shaped light projections on the fabric, and above their heads.

Area Councils

Our five area councils: North, Midlands, London, South East and South West

The exterior of Newcastle City Library at night.


We have a duty to be fair, honest and open about the way we’re run, how much we spend and how we treat people

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Working with us

We’ve got great people working for us. Find out how you can join our team

A lady reads information on an interactive display.

Annual Reviews

What have we achieved in the last year? Our Annual Review gives you a detailed picture of who and what we’ve supported in 2015

Two writers lean over a table in an old-fashioned house, making and comparing notes.

Our history

The Arts Council was founded in 1946 in an era of increased opportunity for all, following the Second World War

A hand holds another person's arm.

How we work in partnership

The success and sustainability of the arts and cultural sector depends on effective partnership between the Arts Council and local government

Image captions
Top left to bottom right: 1. Shailesh Bahoran and Sooraj Subramaniam of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance perform Material Men, commissioned by Southbank Centre. Photo © Chris Nash. 2. Neon Dogs by Deepa Mann Kler, produced by Artichoke. Photo © Chris Hill / Artichoke. 3. Dot, Squiggle and Rest at Polka Theatre with Royal Opera House. Photo © Robert Workman / Polka Theatre. 4. Newcastle City Library. Photo © Newcastle City Library / Mark Thurston / Steve Brock 5. David Glowacki's Hidden Fields. Photo © Paul Blakemore / Interactive Scientific Ltd 6. Reopening of Manchester Central Library, March 22nd 2014. Photo © Joel C. Fildes for Arts Council England 7. Reopening of Manchester Central Library, March 22nd 2014. Photo © Joel C. Fildes for Arts Council England.. 8. Jon Nash & Jim Crago, writers of Spice Box: a Barbican Theatre Plymouth production at The Elizabethan House. Photo © Gemma Ward Photographer / Barbican Theatre. 9. Hands. Photo © CP Photo Art / DigitalVision / Getty Images. 10. Old Furnace Coalbrookdale, lit as part of the Cultural Olympiad 2008. Photo © Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust 11. Artificial Things by Stopgap Dance Company © Photo Chris Parkes 12. Gecko Theatre: Institute. Photo © Richard Haughton 13. Scattered by Motionhouse. Photo © Chris Nash / Motionhouse 14. Plymouth Music Zone participants making music. Photo © Plymouth Music Zone / Kevin Clifford 15. David Glowacki's 'Hidden Fields'. Photo © Paul Blakemore / Interactive Scientific Ltd.