"The things of peace": the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts and the transformation of the British musical experience, 1939-1945

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Virginia Tech


Examining developments in British musical life within the context of the Second World War, this thesis chronicles the emergence of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), the first body offering state-supported funding for art music activities in Great Britain. Focusing on Britain's musical life during the war demonstrates that the preservation of Britain's "cultural" heritage (of which music was a part) became a rationale for the beginnings of state-supported arts funding. By studying CEMA and its effect on Britain's musical life, we reexamine how art music experienced growth during this period. CEMA's work of providing concerts in factories, shelters, and the countryside, transformed the ways the British public experienced art music. This thesis examines the process by which the organization evolved into the Arts Council of Great Britain and set the future course of arts funding for most of the organization's history. CEMA's story offers insight concerning the function of arts funding, as well as illustrates the effects that public support of the arts can have on the artistic life of a modern Western society.