Traditionally, the Critics' Circle has made a single award annually since 1988 with theatre director Sir Peter Hall being the first recipient.
The awards, being presented at a private ceremony at the Barbican May 7, have been made to theatre director Max Stafford-Clark (currently artistic director of Out of Joint, the company he founded after departing from the Royal Court that he ran from 1979-1993), filmmaker Danny Boyle (who began his career in the theatre and returned to it to direct Frankenstein at the National Theatre in 2011), the late conductor Sir Colin Davis (formerly principal conductor for London Symphony Orchestra), choreographer Sir Peter Wright (former artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet) and Tate Galleries director Sir Nicholas Serota.
The Services to the Arts Awards are hosted by Dame Janet Suzman. The distinctive Services to the Arts awards have been designed by Royal College of Art student Marcin Rusack.
In a press statement, Arts Council England Chairman Peter Bazalgette commented, "Critics have always played a vital role in the arts by guiding audiences and curators and this role is still important in the digital age where informed comment, knowledge and history enriches our experiences in the face of information overload. Many critics have become as famous as the artists they write about and they have launched and supported careers so it is great to see this contribution being celebrated."
Simon Tait, president of the Critics’ Circle, added, "As 2013 is a momentous milestone in the history of the Critics’ Circle, it is only fitting that we should honor five leading figures from drama, music, film, dance and visual arts with acknowledging their Services to the Arts. They are all artists in their field, each unique in their work, but with a shared passion to offer their work to as many as possible – as do critics. Those who support and enjoy the arts always seek the views of critics who have the knowledge, experience, connections and a shared passion for the arts, which are as important and relevant today as they ever were."