Recent decades have seen the development of a nationwide network of venues, many initiated and funded by local authorities and supported through central government capital schemes. The Arts Council currently provides programming and revenue supports to over fifty venues throughout the country. Critical to the support provided by the Arts Council is the support provided by local authorities, which is instrumental in ensuring that a stable and vibrant venue network can be maintained.
Venues are where, in the main, artists and audiences meet, providing an infrastructure of crucial importance for the arts nationally. As focal points for arts activities, they help communities to develop an artistic voice and they provide opportunities for investment in the creative energies and skills of future generations.
Many local authorities now recognise that cultural provision is as much a part of their remit as is the provision of more traditional local authority services such as roads, water and housing. The Arts Council endeavours to strengthen the links with local authorities and share information and expertise in order to provide effective support.
Venues have developed as much more than "receiving houses" for touring productions. Many have specialised in particular artforms and practise and it is to the benefit of audiences and artists that work is disseminated as widely and as cost-effectively as possible. The Arts Council actively supports and encourages networking and co-operation in all these areas.