Arts Council of Great Britain: records, 1928-1997

Series description

Series title: Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts: Correspondence, General, 1939-1960
Reference: EL2
Extent: 95 items


During the war 1939-1945, the committee structure of CEMA was widened to include provision for Scotland and Wales. Initially, no arrangements at all had been made for Scotland under CEMA, but in 1943 a Scottish committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Dr O H Mavor to advise the Council upon matters affecting Scottish policy and activities. CEMA had representatives for Art and Drama working in Wales and worked closely with the National Council of Music for Wales, who were one of the first recipients of CEMAmoney. A block grant was made to the National Council for concerts and organisers, and other money grants for factory concerts and guarantees to touring orchestras were allocated from CEMA and administered for them, under their direct supervision, by the National Council. In April 1944 CEMA opened a regional office in Cardiff and in 1945 an Advisory Panel was set up to administer CEMA funds and carry out its policy in Wales.

In the second Charter of the Arts Council, granted in February 1967, the Scottish and Welsh committees were upgraded to Arts Councils and given the power to exercise, or advise, the Arts Council of Great Britain on the exercise of their functions in Scotland and Wales.

CEMA for Northern Ireland was set up in 1943. The Chairman was Lindsay Keir, the Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast, and the Council consisted of representatives of the Queens University Joint Committee for Adult Education and coopted members such as the chairmen of the Art, Drama and Music Advisory committees. It was funded jointly by the Pilgrim Trust and the Northern Ireland Ministry of Education.

One of the first initiatives developed by CEMA was the establishment of a series of concerts in factory canteens. The idea proved so successful that it was destined to develop into one of CEMA's main activities.

A second successful initiative launched by CEMA was the organisation of Music Travellers. This was a team of six musicians, headed by Sybil Eaton, a violinist of great distinction, who were recruited to travel singly throughout the countryside playing and singing wherever they could gather audiences and organising local choirs and amateur orchestras.

In 1942 CEMA became involved in plans to rebuild Crystal Palace. Keynes wrote in December to the general manager of Crystal Palace suggesting the two organisations collaborate in a competition to design a new building on the Crystal Palace site. CEMA was motivated by a need to ensure the existence of buildings to serve as centres for cultural activities after the war. An open competition for designs was suggested to be funded jointly by CEMA and the Trustees of Crystal Palace. Sir Kenneth Clark was one of the five assessors of the competition, whose verdict was announced in 1946.

Scope and content

This series contains correspondence generated and received by the Secretariat of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), which became, in 1945, the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Several files within this series relate to the internal structuring of the Arts Council, for example, the establishment in 1942 of the first Advisory Panels for Art, Drama and Music under the deputy chairmen; Sir Kenneth Clark, Ivor Brown and Dr Stanley Marchant.

Correspondence files belonging to Sir Kenneth Clark and Ivor Brown are included in this series, as are those of a number of early members of CEMA. The most voluminous set belonged to John Maynard Keynes, the eminent economist, who was chairman of CEMAfrom 1942 until his death in 1946. Early CEMA members for whom correspondence files exist are Thelma Cazalet, Lord Esher, Professor B Ifor Evans, Miss Margery Fry, Dr Thomas Jonesand Dr R Vaughan Williams.

The correspondence of Lord Harlech, who was appointed chairmen of the Welsh Advisory Panel also appears in this series, as does correspondence between CEMA and bodies such as the Arts and Entertainment Emergency Council, the BBC and the British Institute of Adult Education.


General information on access to archives at the V&A is available on the archive pages of the V&A website. If you are unable to see the table of contents for this online catalogue at the left of your screen, please follow this link.

Restrictions on access

Access to unpublished material less than 30 years old may be restricted and requests for access can take up to 20 working days to be processed. When applying for access, it is helpful if you can quote the reference number, title and covering dates of the file(s) in question. For very large requests you are advised to contact us to discuss your requirements. All requests should be sent by e-mail to or by post to Victoria and Albert Museum Archives (ref. ACGB), Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QX.

Detailed catalogue

Miscellaneous files, 1939-1949
Reference Description Dates
EL2/1 Art Advisory Panel Dec 1942 - July 1945
EL2/2 Drama Advisory Panel Sept 1942 - Dec 1946
EL2/3 Music Advisory Panel Dec 1942 - Feb 1945
EL2/4 Art and Entertainment Emergency Council : establishment, application for grant, exemption of male ballet dancers from National Service, Bath Festival Nov 1939 - Aug 1940
EL2/5 BBC and CEMA : correspondence and minutes concerning the organisation of broadcast concerts 1942-1945
EL2/6 British Council Nov 1942 - Mar 1944
EL2/7 British Council Apr 1944 - Dec1945
EL2/8 British Institute of Adult Education : correpondence and papers concerning Art for the People exhibitions 1942-1949
EL2/9 CEMA History
Partially indexed.
EL2/10 CEMA Northern Ireland : establishment, organisation and policy Dec 1942 - Dec 1945
EL2/11 Council - General
Contains correspondence relating to the appointment of Lord Keynes as Charman of CEMA.

Council Membership, 1941-1960
Reference Description Dates
EL2/12 Ivor Brown 1943-1948
EL2/13 Sir Kenneth Clark 1941-1960
EL2/14 Viscount Esher 1942-1963
EL2/15 Dr B. Ifor Evans: report on a tour of Canada 1941-1953

The Arts Council and CEMA, 1941-1950
Reference Description Dates
EL2/16 Margery Fry 1942-1950
EL2/17 Lord Harlech 1945-1948
EL2/18 Dr Tom Jones 1945-1963
EL2/19 Thelma Cazalet Keir 1942-1948
EL2/20 Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams 1941-1950

Crystal Palace, 1942-1947
Reference Description Dates
EL2/21 Crystal Palace : initial plans for site, acquisition of site, competition for development of site organised with RIBA Mar 1943 - Jan 1944
EL2/22 Crystal Palace : Architectural competition Oct 1943 - Dec 1945
EL2/23 All Nations, Crystal Palace Feb 1946 - Oct 1947
EL2/24 Ministry of Education Oct 1942 - Sept 1945
EL2/25 Entertainments Tax : exemption for events organised by CEMA Oct 1941 - Feb 1943
EL2/26 Entertainments Tax Mar 1943 - Dec 1944
EL2/27 Entertainments Tax Jan 1945 - June 1946

Factory Concerts, 1940-1952
Reference Description Dates
EL2/28 Entertainments National Service Association May 1940 - Apr 1942
EL2/29 Factory Concerts : general correspondence June 1940 - Jan 1943
EL2/30 Factory Concerts : correspondence with companies A-K 1940-1942
EL2/31 Factory Concerts : correspondence with companies L-Z 1940-1941
EL2/32 Factory Concerts : correspondence with orchestras 1940-1941
EL2/33 Income Tax (Exemption) Apr 1944 - Feb 1952

Lord Keynes' Correspondence, 1940-1946
Reference Description Dates
EL2/34 Information from organisations in response to the broadcast The Arts Council : its Policy and Hopes 1945
EL2/35 Correspondence in response to the broadcast The Arts Council : its Policy and Hopes 1945
EL2/36 Advance Players Ltd and Donald Wolfit : application for a grant 1940
EL2/37 Miscellaneous, including Ballet Joos, Bristol Theatre Royal, Frederick Ashton, Old Vic, Sadler's Wells Opera and Ballet, Symphony Orchestras Feb 1942 - Dec 1942
EL2/38 Miscellaneous, including Bristol Theatre Royal, Crystal Palace, Donald Wolfit, ENSA, Entertainments Tax, Old Vic, The Drama Panel, Sadler's Wells, Scotland Jan 1943 - Dec 1943
EL2/39 Miscellaneous, including Albert Hall, Arts enquiry, Ballet Joos, Crystal Palace, Dartington Hall, ENSA, Entertainments Tax, Old Vic, The Drama Panel, Royal Opera House, Sadler's Wells, Scotland Jan 1944 - Dec 1944
EL2/40 Miscellaneous, including Ballet Joos, Bristol Theatre Royal, BBC, Crystal Palace, ENSA, Old Vic, The Drama Panel, Royal Opera House, Sadlers Wells, Scotland, Symphony Orchestras, Wales Jan 1945 - Dec 1945
EL2/41 Miscellaneous, including Royal Charter, Council, Edinburgh Festival, ENSA, Old Vic, Sadlers Wells, The Age of Organisation and the Demand for Social Amenities; Entertainment and Education Centres by General Planning and Development (Holdings) Ltd Jan 1946 - Apr 1946
EL2/42 Local Authorities : correspondence concerning the provision of concerts and entertainments 1943

Music Travellers, 1940-1944
Reference Description Dates
EL2/43 Helen Anderson, North Eastern Region 1941
EL2/44 Helen Anderson, North Eastern Region 1942-1943
EL2/45 Ronald Biggs, Southern Region 1940-1941
EL2/46 Sybil Eaton, Southern Region, Region 12 1940
EL2/47 Sybil Eaton, Southern Region, Region 12 1941-1944
EL2/48 Christine Godwin, Norfolk 1940-1941
EL2/49 Eric Greene, East and West Riding 1940-1941
EL2/50 Richard Hall, North of England 1940-1941
EL2/51 Imogen Holst, Region 3 1940-1941
EL2/52 Imogen Holst, Region 3 1940-1942
EL2/53 Eve Kisch, North Western Region 1941
EL2/54 Eve Kisch, North Western Region 1942-1943
EL2/55 Mary Lake, Midland Region 1941
EL2/56 Mary Lake, Midland Region 1942
EL2/57 Mary Lake, Midland Region 1943-1944
EL2/58 Audrey Piggott, South Western Region 1941-1943
EL2/59 Audrey Piggott, South Western Region 1941
EL2/60 Audrey Piggott, South Western Region 1940
EL2/61 Ralph Vaughan Williams, Surrey: organisation of a concert in Dorking 1940
EL2/62 Myra Verney, Region 4 1941-1942
EL2/63 Myra Verney, Region 4 1942
EL2/64 Myra Verney, Region 4 1943
EL2/65 Harry Vincent, West Midland Region 1941
EL2/66 Harry Vincent, West Midland Region 1942
EL2/67 Harry Vincent, West Midland Region 1943
EL2/68 Helga White, Southern Region 1941-1942
EL2/69 Anne Wood, North Midland Region 1940-1941
EL2/70 Anne Wood, North Midland Region 1940-1941
EL2/71 David Yacamini, Scotland 1941-1943

National Council of Music for Wales,
Reference: 1941-1950
Reference Description Dates
EL2/72 National Council of Social Service : correspondence with the National Council of Music in Wales relating to factory concerts, Welsh music travellers and grant applications Oct 1941 - Apr 1943
EL2/73 Correspondence with the National Council of Music in Wales relating to factory concerts, Welsh music travellers and the role of CEMA in Wales 1943-1944
EL2/74 National Council of Social Service : correspondence with the National Council of Music in Wales relating to factory concerts and the Country Music Committee Conference 1944
EL2/75 Correspondence with the National Council of Music in Wales relating to factory concerts, grants and the Association of Music and Arts Clubs 1945-1946

Finance, 1941-1950
Reference Description Dates
EL2/76 Nominal ledger of CEMA accounts 1941-1950

Photographs, [n.d.]
Reference Description Dates
EL2/77 Photographs of a broadcast concert at Arundel Castle ca. 1940s
EL2/78 Photographs of CEMA Factory Concerts, including the Jacques String Orchestra ca. 1940s
EL2/79 Photographs of a broadcast concert at Thaxted Church ca. 1940s

Scottish Committee, 1940-1951
Reference Description Dates
EL2/80 Scottish Committee: minutes and corrrespondence 1940-1945
EL2/81 Dr Ernest Bullock, Principal of The Royal Scottish Academy of Music 1943-1950
EL2/82 Dr T. J. Honeyman, Director of Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums 1943-1949
EL2/83 Dr O. H. Mavor 1942-1945
EL2/84 Scottish Committee membership and resignations 1946-1951
EL2/85 Dr J. R. Peddie, Secretary of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland 1943-1951
EL2/86 Neil Shaw 1943-1950
EL2/87 Treasury : formation of the Arts Council and correspondence with the Treasury about its grant Nov 1943 - Dec 1945
EL2/88 Vic-Wells (Theatre & Ballet) : estimates for Sadlers Wells Opera, proposals to re-establish the Old Vic Mar 1944 - Jan 1945
EL2/89 Vic-Wells : re-opening of Sadlers Wells and proposals for its future Jan 1945 - Dec 1945
EL2/90 Agreement between CEMA and the Governors of the Royal Victoria Hall and the Old Vic & Sadlers Wells Trust Ltd 1944

Welsh Committee, 1945-1949
Reference Description Dates
EL2/91 Welsh Committee Mar 1945 - Sept 1946
EL2/92 Dr D.O. Evans 1945
EL2/93 Sir Cyril Fox, Director of the National Museum of Wales 1945-1949
EL2/94 Mrs Herbert Jones 1945-1949
EL2/95 Dr Thomas Taig 1945-1946