March 2016: at the annual Critics' Circle lunch, Dame Maggie Smith accepts the Circle's highest honour for the contribution she continues to make to the arts. Picture © Elliott Franks
President: Jeffery Taylor
Vice-President: Anna Smith
Hon. General Secretary: Rick Jones who can be contacted at email@example.com
Hon. Treasurer: Peter Cargin
Trustees: Ian Herbert, Michael Billington
The Critics’ Circle has existed since 1913 to protect cultural criticism from the censor and the despot. It was at first an offshoot of the Institute of Journalists on Fleet Street and has aways had the critics of the daily national papers as the core of its membership. The Circle views criticism as an arm of free speech and an essential ingredient of a healthy society. From small beginnings, the Circle today has 490 members shared between Theatre (117), Music (78), Film (151), Dance (57), Visual Arts (47) and Books (40). As an association, it provides numerical strength to its members, most of whom labour as unrepresented freelancers. After much philosophical debate in the 1980s, the Circle decided to become an award-giving organisation and since 1988 has presented each year the Service to Art Rosebowl to an artist of conspicuous achievement whom the President toasts by raising the Charles Dickens Goblet to him or her at the annual luncheon usually held in London. In 2015 the members voted for Dame Maggie Smith. The sections also make their own awards, some of them in ceremonies which have become siginificant social occasions. The sections hold periodic meetings to discuss their awards, propose new members, debate current issues and sometimes meet artists.
Admission to the Circle is by invitation from the 28-member Council. The rule book states:
Invitations are issued to persons engaged regularly and substantially for at least two years in the writing or broadcasting (television, radio and internet) of criticism of drama, music, film, dance, visual arts and literature or who write or broadcast informed analytical features or programmes.
A Critical Century - a history of the Circle is available on Amazon as an E Book.
Royal Opera House
Clangers, Bagpuss & Co, V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA, 19 March-9 October 2016
Welsh National Opera
Wales Millennium Centre
Royal Festival Hall
Gay's not quite the word
Enquiries about the Critics' Circle should be made to the Hon Gen Sec Rick Jones by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8698 2460.
The Critics’ Circle is the oldest critics' organisation in the world and to date has over 500 members who work in the media throughout the United Kingdom.Read more...
Pictures from our 2011 Film, Dance and Drama Awards presented in January 2012
The reports in The Stage about the setting up of the Circle
Stars and critics from the 1940s to the 1980s