Arts Council of Great Britain: records, 1928-1997

Series description

Series title: Finance Department: Housing the Arts Files, 1960-1994
Reference: ACGB/12
Extent: 6m 50cm


In 1958, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan, invited the Arts Council to undertake a first ever survey of existing buildings to house the arts, and to make recommendations for the future. The consequent Report was published in two volumes in 1959 and 1961.

The Report painted a very bleak picture, but a further four years passed before the Arts Council was empowered to give capital grants to encourage local authorities and other promoters to build. The scheme was a success and, by 1976, grants totalling 8,214,500 had been paid or promised to 271 schemes in England, Scotland and Wales.

In 1982/83 responsibility for the Housing the Arts Scheme was taken over from the Finance Department by the Regional Department. By the mid-eighties, the capital programme was wound up and Housing the Arts survived briefly only in an advisory and information role.

Scope and content

The bulk of these files contain correspondence, invoices, reports and accounts relating to individual Housing the Arts projects. There are also some more general files, including ones entitled Financial Papers, Legal, Statistics, Scottish Arts Council, Welsh Arts Council, Record Keeping and Building for the Arts. Finally there is a bundle of plans for theatre and other building projects.

Series ACGB/84 also contains files relating to individual Housing the Arts projects. However these files were found in boxes marked "closed". In order to protect the original order of the Archive they have been catalogued as a separate series. See ACGB/107 for Housing the Arts planning records and ACGB/120 for files relating to the administration of the scheme.

The files relating to individual projects are arranged alphabetically by file name. The file name being either the name of the place where the client is based or the actual name of the client. There are then three boxes of more general files and four boxes of Building for the Arts files, as well as one bundle of plans.

No list of individual files in this series is currently available.


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Restrictions on access

Because this series is uncatalogued, access is restricted under section 22 (information intended for future publication) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. For more information, please write by e-mail to or by post to Victoria and Albert Museum Archives (ref. ACGB), Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QX.