The 1960s: A time of balance
Jennie Lee was appointed the first Arts Minister by Harold Wilson's government in 1964, a post she would hold until 1970. This was a junior ministerial role, and while Lee worked closely with Lord Goodman, the Arts Council Chairman at the time, the 'arm's-length' principle for funding held. Lee was concerned about the temptation to politicise the arts, and said, 'Political control is a shortcut to boring, stagnant art: there must be freedom to experiment, to make mistakes, to fail, to shock – or there can be no new beginnings. It is hard for any government to accept this.'
Under Lee's tenure, the regional offices, and the separate nations, would gain greater autonomy as the Council established a network of arts organisations across the country as regular client organisations.
The Department of Education and Science administered the Arts Council's grant from 1965 onwards. In 1967, the Arts Council was granted a new charter of incorporation, with the objectives:
- to develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and practice of the arts
- to increase the accessibility of the arts to the public throughout Great Britain
- to advise and co-operate with departments of Government, local authorities and other bodies on any matters concerned, whether directly or indirectly, with the foregoing objects
The 1967 charter also declared that the functions of the Arts Council of Great Britain in Scotland and Wales be carried out by two committees known as the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils.