The Arts and the People by Sir Roy Shaw - review by Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg

Acts of Faith

The Arts and the People


Jonathan Cape 192pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Roy Shaw was appointed Secretary-General of the Arts Council in 1975. He came from a working class background in the North of England, went to university late, found his career in adult education, became a Roman Catholic in the early fifties and saw the Arts Council as an extension of his wish ‘to help others as I had been helped’. His social origins, his firm religious conviction and his willingness and, worse, his ability to argue a case through make him a sitting duck for today’s fashionable arrows.

Had he got the job ten years earlier, then, out of the silly but willing sixties with Jennie Lee to back him, he would have provided Arts policy with a foundation. What it needed, like Wordsworth, was to discover and educate its own constituency. Roy Shaw’s devotion to Arts education

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