New Writing and the State: the Arts Council of Great Britain and New Writing Development, 1945-1990

Taryn Storey

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book examines the influence of Arts Council of Great Britain (ACGB) policy on the evolution of new writing development in British theatre between 1945 and 1990. As such it provides a unique analysis of the origins, historical development, and efficacy of a specific strand of Arts Council policy, and is the first serious attempt to consider in detail the impact of ACGB policies on the development of post-war British theatre. Research for this book has been drawn almost exclusively from the Arts Council of Great Britain (ACGB) archive housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Theatre and Performance archive. Written as a culmination of four years of detailed research in this archive, the book contains substantial material that has not previously been published. It proposes that new writing development in the post-war period was predicated on a decision by the Arts Council to underwrite artistic risk, and that from the early 1950s this began to form a key rationale for state subsidy to theatre. In 1985 the Arts Council’s decision to transform state subsidy into ‘risk capital’ was to turn this policy on its head, with a devastating impact on the new writing output of our regional theatres. Crucially, it reveals the extent to which political, ideological and economic factors have influenced the direction of ACGB policy and identifies a causal link between the methods by which new writing has been funded and assessed by the ACGB, and the output of the repertoire of theatre in the UK in the years between 1945 and 1990. As such, this book represents a major expansion of research and thinking into the historiography of the Arts Council and its impact on the evolution of the post-war theatre industry - research that informs the current debate around arts funding, civic culture and the value of the arts, and will be a primary source of reference for any scholar of post-war British theatre.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan UK
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 2018

Publication series

NameNew Directions in Cultural Policy Research
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • Arts Council of Great Britain, New Writing, Funding, Arts Policy, Civic Culture, Royal Court Theatre, Live Theatre, Belgrade Theatre, Artistic Risk, George Devine,


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