This introductory chapter begins with a description of the inaugural Edinburgh Festival of 1947 and sets the scene of the post-war world in which it took place. The Festival City is conceptualized as a site of cultural contest, and arts festivals as an effective ‘lens’ through which to explore wider debates about culture and society. The key themes of the book are introduced: the changing role of the culture in post-war Britain, the development of arts policy, the secularisation and liberalisation of British society, the role of theatre in social change, new trends in the arts, and the ‘culture wars’ that were bound up in the ‘battleground’ of the arts.
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