About The Critics’ Circle

Picture caption

President: Anna Smith
Vice-President: William Russell
Hon. General Secretary: Rick Jones who can be contacted at criticscircleallsections@gmail.com
Hon. Treasurer: Peter Cargin
Trustees: Ian Herbert, Michael Billington, Peter Cargin

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 professionally, 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. www.amazon.co.uk

News & Reviews

Un ballo in maschera, Opera North, Leeds

By Tom Sutcliffe Who is to blame for the less than wonderful launch of Opera North’s latest Verdi? - the marvellous Un ballo in maschera, with its unconsummated central love affair, superstition and violent politics. Richard Farnes is widely accepted as a major...

read more

Pooh, the bear that delights young and old

There is an enchanted place in the V&A, a place where wonder is being created. From the moment you even look for information on the website and find your cursor has become a swarm of honey bees, the Victoria & Albert’s Winnie-the-Pooh: exploring a classic is magic. If...

read more