14-18 NOW is the UK’s official arts programme marking the centenary of the First World War, which took place from 2014 to 2018. We commissioned artists from all artforms (including visual arts, film, theatre, literature, mass-participation events, music, fashion, digital projects, poetry, dance and opera) to make new work inspired by the period 1914-1918. All of our projects were co-commissioned in partnership with cultural and heritage organisations across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The first season of 14-18 NOW in 2014 focused on the centenary of the outbreak of war. The second season in 2016 focused on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the battle of Jutland. The final season in 2018 culminated on the centenary of Armistice Day.
14-18 NOW worked closely with Imperial War Museums and was part of its Centenary Partnerships programme http://www.1914.org. Its offices were based at IWM London.
Engaging people through the arts is a powerful way to bring the past to life. With no serving survivors left to tell the stories from the First World War, the arts are an effective way to engage contemporary audiences, especially those who currently feel little connection to the First World War. This programme is indebted to the vital role that artists – poets, painters, film-makers and others – have played in shaping public perceptions of the First World War.
The Government instigated 14-18 NOW (under the working title First World War Centenary Cultural Programme). In line with established government policy on funding the arts, 14-18 NOW was established as an independent arts organisation with its decisions overseen by a Board. 14-18 NOW was an independent unit hosted within Imperial War Museums (IWM), based at IWM London so that both organisations could benefit from their respective expertise. The Government was also one of the funders of 14-18 NOW through the DCMS.
14-18 NOW was a UK-wide curated programme across all the artforms with a specific set of aims. This programme was curated by the Director of 14-18 NOW, guided by a team of Artistic Advisors and overseen by the Board.
Events took place in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and internationally. More than 420 artists from 40 countries created artworks in 220 locations across the UK, delivered with 600 partners including arts, heritage and community organisations.
The programme was designed to engage everyone with the centenary of the First World War. 35 million people engaged with the programme, including over 8 million young people.
14-18 NOW was funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Additional funds were secured from a range of sources including public funding, trusts and foundations, individuals and corporate supporters. The list of supporters is here. Fundraising was overseen by the board, under the chairmanship of Vikki Heywood.
Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. Project specific funding was granted from the Big Lottery Fund for Pages of the Sea to mark the centenary of Armistice.
The Board chaired by Vikki Heywood was responsible for monitoring the delivery by the Director Jenny Waldman and her team. Funding was subject to the usual monitoring and evaluating processes, imposed as a condition of support by funders. Evaluation reports can be found here.
14-18 NOW’s main legacy is the impact on individuals who experienced our commissioned events and engaged with the centenary of the First World War through the arts. Over 35 million people engaged with the programme, including 8 million young people. The commissioned arts projects form a body of work which has shed light on many different aspects of the First World War. Many of the works will have a life lasting long into the future, as permanent works of art, touring performances, musical scores, books and films. More broadly, through 14-18 NOW the heritage and contemporary arts sectors have developed new ways to collaborate, bringing the past to vibrant life for today’s audiences.