Sir Roy Shaw – devoted arts sector champion dies aged 93

Former Secretary General of the Arts Council, Sir Roy Shaw, has died aged 93.

Originally born in Sheffield, he presided over the Arts Council from 1975 to 1983, a notoriously difficult time for arts funding in England, during which he tirelessly championed subsidies for the sector.  After he retired he wrote The Arts and the People, chronicling his Arts Council career.

Sir Roy came from an adult education background, and believed passionately that the job of the Arts Council was to give people the means to enjoy art of the highest quality.  His belief that the art had to be good, but that it should become more available, resulted in some significant acts, such as the setting up of Opera North.  Essentially he began to articulate what the Arts Council is currently about Great art for everyone.

Alan Davey Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:

‘Everyone who has worked in the Arts and who has followed the business of the Arts Council over the years will be sad to hear of the death of Sir Roy. I went to see him in his home in Hove a couple of years ago. I knew we were about to face cuts, and wanted to ask his advice on steering the Arts Council through such difficult times as he faced following a period of cuts in the early ’80s.  He was resolute – “If you have to make cuts, discriminate, stick to your guns, and protect quality and reach”.

‘He wrote several books, the best of which is Arts and the People, which sets out his beliefs on the power and place of art in society.  These are beliefs that have given me a huge amount of inspiration in my time here. ‘


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