The Arts

The Government sets the arts budget for a three-year period so that arts bodies can plan ahead and diversify their sources of funding. The Government encourages arts bodies to seek funds from the private sector.

The British Council furthers knowledge of British culture and the English language overseas. It initiates or supports tours by British companies and artists.

London is a major international centre for theatre, opera and dance. There are many important companies and theatres outside the capital. The Royal National Theatres stages classical and modern plays. The Shakespeare Festival takes place in April. People flock to Stradford and pack its theatre. On the 23rd of April – the Bardic Birthday – representatives of all nations walk from the theatre and stand under their national flag in Bridge Street. A procession goes to the Birthplace - the house where Shakespeare is said to have been born. The Royal Shakespeare Company performs both at Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and in London. The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and the English National Opera are the main London opera companies. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own .

British pop musicians and groups have worldwide appeal and have set new trends.

Some 650 professional arts festivals take place each year. The Edinburgh International Festival is the largest of its kind in the world.

British films, actors and the creative and technical services which support them are acclaimed at international film festivals. The industry also produces films for television.

About 2,500 museums and art galleries include the major national museums, with world-famous artistic, archeological, scientific and historical collections. The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace shows pictures from the royal collection. Many of Britain’s great private houses (some open to the public), of prime architectural interest, also contain art treasures.

A network of free public and other institutional and private libraries helps to maintain the vast wealth of English literature and culture. The British Library, Britain’s national library, is one of the world’s three largest.

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